amanmusthaveacode
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Someone like you: Adele back, baby!

Photo via The Edge.

There are those who say that Adele always makes the same songs. The same music. That whenever she does release new music, it always follows the same formula and same sound. And that though as impressive as these new songs may be as singing feats, that they’re pointless because they’re too demanding to even be considered as part of a hypothetical touring set list and that Adele could never play them live. That it all sounds the same every time.

In other words, there are those who are wrong.

(For her part, Adele herself has addressed this and it mostly comes down to this: why would she make different music than what she’s always made when literally no one else sounds like and does what she does?)

The latest such “same song” arrived last week as the first single to Adele’s next album 30. The song is Easy On Me. It’s excellent and, yes, reminiscent of previous songs of hers. It is not (sorry) an afropop duet with Tems, or a trap anthem with Cardi B. It’s a gorgeous piano ballad, the likes of which Adele has already made plenty of already. Easy On Me slides somewhere halfway between the longing and melancholy of Someone Like You, and the calm and detente of Remedy. It’s full of the vocal tricks that Adele has mastered, the soaring choruses, the li-i-i-ft off of her voice as she belts out the bridge.

Easy On Me came with a video. It’s helmed, much like the video for 25’s Hello, by Quebecois Xavier Dolan. Because of that, it’s full of close-ups and lingering shots on Adele’s face and emotions. She’s feeling things, the video seems to say, and she’ll make you feel things with her as you watch it. And because it’s Dolan, it’s a gorgeous clip shot in black and white. Everything he does, shoots or writes is gorgeous. It’s full of his usual tricks too, full of close-ups on Adele’s face where she’s just off-center. There’s also a close-up of her hand putting a cassette tape inside her car’s audio player because, yes, of course it’s a cassette tape. A shot of her eyes as she glances back in the car mirror to the house she’s leaving. (The way the shot is framed, it’s as if she’s looking back at you.)

There’s a shot, at 01:57 of the video, of Adele’s left hand hanging outside the car window and going up and down as she drives away. It’s to show that Adele is lost in her thoughts, or something like this. She’s abandoning and letting go, it seems to say. Then, because it’s Dolan, there’s a point where the image goes from black and white to colours. As if to suggest that Adele has, erm, processed the emotions she’s feeling. (It’s not entirely dissimilar to when Dolan literally opens up the screen ratio during the gutting and excellent Mommy movie. See below.) It’s a shot that’s echoed in Adele’s performance in the song itself. By the second time she sings the chorus, she drowns out the eaaaaa-aaaaa-aaaasy on me, and you can practically see her hand moving up and down as she sings. Like it happens in the videoclip.

Easy On Me is a great song. It’s the lead single to her upcoming 30 album and, because it’s the first Adele song in six years, it broke the world record to stand as the song with the most streams in 24 hours in history. It’s the first song Adele wrote and recorded for the new album, which is fitting.

It’s fitting in that it’s a fairly typical Adele piano ballad: it’ll speak to you and leave you absolutely wrecked and gutted. Adele starts by looking honestly at her relationship with previous husband Simon Konecki, this river that keeps flowing but there’s just no gold at all anymore. The second verse is addressed directly to Konecki, and we probably get a first glimpse at the reason behind their divorce there: Adele gave up parts of herself to save, in order, her relationship, and her husband and son Angelo. Her and Simon, ultimately, were both too stuck in their ways. “You can’t deny how hard I have tried,” she sings – left unsaid here is the fact that Konecki maybe, probably didn’t try hard enough.

The chorus is the real gutting part. The British superstar is deeply human and she begs for empathy and sympathy. Please go easy on her, she sings, because she’s never had time to figure out how to become a fully formed individual. A mother. A lover and wife. She has been all of those things, but she was all of those things while she was launching a career and just overall reaching stages of global stardom that very few people have ever reached. How can she see who and what she is, or how can she choose what she chose to do and to feel the world around her as she sings, how can she know herself if she’s been a beloved icon since the age of 19?

When you first hear the chorus, you think it’s Adele imploring her son Angelo. But it also works if you hear it as Adele asking her ex-husband all these things as she works at becoming a better person. But by the end of the song, you realize it’s mostly Adele singing everything to herself. She’s asking herself for empathy and indulgence. She’s saying that she knows that she’ll mess up, that it won’t be perfect. But that she deserves the good and joy happening that will surely come after the hard work. As she does on most of her “same songs,” Adele is putting her heart out there. What’s more human than that?

Give Adele a piano and she’ll give you the world, maybe that’s the lesson here. Well okay, maybe not the world. But she’ll give you one of the greatest songs in modern time.

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The blog provides commentary on music, sports and pop culture. It looks at overarching themes and issues and goes beyond the typical stories. Most of all, it tries to laugh: give laughing a chance. Do it for the culture (and the ‘gram sure).

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Charles BlouinGascon

Charles BlouinGascon

Poutine. Sarcasm. #GFOP. My own views. Wayne fever forever. Not a troll account.

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