Say 'Hello' to an instant hit

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Taylor Swift has officially been dethroned as the queen of pop now that Adele has returned with her much anticipated third album, 25. After an absence from the music industry of five years, the 27-year-old British singer is back and better than ever, musically, mentally, and emotionally.
With her successful previous albums, 2011’s 21 and 2008’s 19, Adele said in an interview that she didn’t think she could top their popularity. But the world was hungry for her music, and her suspenseful, bone-chilling comeback single, “Hello,” immediately sky rocketed to the top of the iTunes charts and stayed there for weeks.
Adele comes back confident, sexy, and belting notes in almost every song. Songs like “When We Were Young,” “Million Years Ago,” and “Remedy” are soft, pretty, and sorrowful piano ballads, with romantic lyrics and calming acoustics. But then the album takes a dip into catchy pop music with “River Lea,” “Water Under the Bridge,” “Send my Love,” and “I Miss You,” all featuring incredibly catchy beats, with background sound effects and vocals. Adele sounds like she is almost having fun.
Although many of the songs are her usual slow, beautiful tunes, the pop ones are nestled in between, almost as if they are a surprise. Definitely the most compelling song on the album is the catchy “River Lea,” personally my favorite; but it also comes with a heavy backstory. The Lea River is a tributary of the Thames River near Adele’s hometown. Adele is singing an ode to this river, and she has mixed feelings about it because she wants to forget where she grew up, but the past will always be a part of her. In the first verse, Adele sings: “I grew up by the River Lea / There was something in the water / Now that something’s in me / Oh, I can’t go back, but the reeds are growing out of my fingertips / I can’t go back to the river.” And in the chorus, she sings out: “I blame it on the River Lea.”
Adele’s voice has the ability to draw people in to the story she tells through her lyrics, and on 25 she shows she has overcome personal struggles. The boost in her confidence and self-esteem suggests it just took her a while to finally find her inner superstar. “I was too strong/ You were trembling/You couldn’t handle the hot heat rising/ Baby, I’m so rising,” she sings in “Send My Love.” This album, while new and confident and fiery, has a nostalgic touch to it, as if Adele secretly wishes she could relive her younger years.
Adele is a pop colossus who doesn’t conform to the basic rules of fame. She prefers not to be seen in public, and she is humble in every single interview, despite holding a BT Digital Music Award, four Brit Awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, 10 Grammy Awards, 13 Billboard Music Awards, and four American Music Awards. If that doesn’t define a music icon, then I don’t know what does.
~julia sexton, co-features director