By Hans Ebert
Gawd knows, I’m part of the Minority Report, but, try as I may, I am just not getting the new track by Adele and its accompanying music video. I fully understand that Mother Adele is up for sainthood, and how this aperitif before the main course arrives is something we have been waiting for almost three years following her brilliant last album, but, unlike millions of others, I am not feeling it, not that the chanteuse could care less. From all reports, the new record will be bigger than when Moses managed to part the Red Seas.
The five second teaser kinda whet the appetite for something stunning even though I have a particular allergic reaction to any song that starts off with the word “Hello”. Jeff Lynne got away with it on ELO’s “Telephone Line”, as did Todd Rundgren with “Hello It’s Me” long before anyone else opened a song with a Hallmark greeting card, but opening a song with “Hello” belongs exclusively to Lionel Ritchie.
When Miss Adele stares at you and sings “Hello”, memories of that creepy video for Lionel’s “Hello” where he, as a teacher, stalks a blind student, takes over the flooding windmills in my mind and nothing else is allowed in. I’m on Shutter Island with the blinds pulled down. Sister Adele lost me at Hello.
What’s the song about? No idea except that she’s still pining for some lost love- one supposes the same lost love she was rolling in the deep about three years ago. And, hello, what’s this video about? A friend thinks it’s Ghost Adele meeting some black bloke- the role is played by Tristan Wilds from “The Wire”- as she’s “doing a” Sixth Sense and seeing dead people because she sings the line, “Hello, from the other side.”
Personally, I don’t think it’s anything as deep and rolling in the deep as that: Sad Adele returns to the home she shared with the black bloke with her flip phone- there are phones and telephone booths all over the place to re-enforce the Hellowness of it all- to air the place out cos it’s got all musky and smelly and she wants to sell it off to make a few quid and then goes a little potty like some bunny boiler and starts having severe flashbacks of the black bloke who was rolling her in the deep.
This is why the song goes nowhere except familiar territory as Mother Adele has not moved on. Maybe she doesn’t want to. Maybe she wants to wallow in the deep as Sad Sells? At least on this track, she’s still singing about “someone like you”, but, this time- and this new music has been three years in the making – the pathos seems a tad contrived. Contrived? You wanna hear contrived? Here’s what the director of the video had to say: “It’s the ‘connect with memory,’ the ‘walk down memory lane’ . . .We would cut from Adele in the present to this guy looking at her and not have a younger version of Adele so that watching it, you would feel like her looking back. When I heard the song I saw a story right away, just this idea of taking the phone and calling your past.”
Yeah, whatever, but it all goes pear-shaped with the moody close-ups of her face, her carefully tousled hair- she plays a lot with her hair- the sight of her wearing a fur coat and screaming at a river while rain falls all around her, which, I guess, symbolises tears, and the starched frock she wears to the House At Pooh Corner where she lived with Christopher Cock Robin. And when she sings about “California dreaming”, I become extremely nostalgic for the Mamas and Papas and, especially, Mama Cass. If only she didn’t eat that last Club sandwich.
I like Adele singing “Chasing Pavements”, “Someone Like You” and “Rolling In The Deep”, but not nearly as much as I love Annie Lennox singing anything. That doesn’t matter. Together with Taylor Swift, Adele is the most popular and powerful musical artist in the world. This new record has been a very long time coming though not nearly as long as it’s taking Ms Lorde to write a follow-up to “Royals”.
Some report that she produced an entire record and scrapped it. One supposes this comprised songs she was said to be writing with Phil Collins, who always seemed an odd choice for a song writing partner as most of his more melodic hits were written by other people. “In The Air Tonight” wasn’t exactly musical rocket science.
Ryan Tedder from OneRepublic is apparently heavily involved on her new record along with a cast of thousands. And I guess because of this and the incredible pressure to follow up a brilliant record like “21″, one was expecting something more from someone who truly must have arrived as the conspiracy theorists have her now with that old gang at the Illuminati.
The album might be a masterclass in musical ingenuity, but as for “Hello”, it just shows a very good singer with a makeover singing second rate fluff.
On a completely different note, or it could be the same one banged on over and over again, whatever happened to Susan Boyle? Hello?