That Adele’s 25 will be the biggest album of the year isn’t really in doubt. Her 2011 record 21 sold so many copies that Taylor Swift would sacrifice an infant live on stage to match those numbers, and with so few artists that bankable left in the recording industry, her team isn’t taking any chances with how the album is being marketed. Hence a narrow window from announcement to release, a quickly dropped video that captures the exact mood that people want from Adele, a Saturday Night Live performance the day after the album drops, and now a live-in-the-studio performance video promising that the next song sounds, well, just like Adele.
Like “Hello,” the new track, “When We Were Young,” is a ballad designed to show off Adele’s pipes. It’s full of minimal guitar and piano lines offering a complement to her booming vocals, percussion mallet drums and backing singers accompanying the song’s rise, and Adele herself building the whole thing to a fevered crescendo.
Nothing about “When We Were Young” reinvents the wheel–or even deviates slightly from the very narrow path that the wheel rolled down its last time out on its way to 30 million worldwide album sales–but when you’re the biggest artist of the millennium (with only 985 years to go to officially earn that title) sticking with what works makes a whole lot of sense.