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After her successful album 21 (2011), which was at the top of the music charts for nearly half a year, Adele could not outdo herself. She decided to match that album’s level of success four years later in 25, released in 2015. Four years ago, Adele expressed her regret over what could have been on tracks like “Rolling in the Deep” and “Set Fire to the Rain.” She learned how to deal with the end of a relationship and expressed her anger with herself and the mystery man through her bellowing lyricism. Now, Adele is jaded and clearly realizes the importance of reconnecting with those in life who matter to her most, even if it’s been a while. The album covers depict this: in 21, Adele tried to ignore her inner demons by looking away on the album’s cover, but in 25, Adele admits her mistakes and looks at you straight in the eye.
Does this new mindset alter Adele’s instrumentation and style? No—it is far from doing so. 25 allows Adele to improve on that which made her music as great as it was: percussive piano, tambourine tempo, and of course her notorious voice, which brings it all together on songs like “Million Years Ago,” now paired rather experimentally with booming choruses as in “Water Under the Bridge” and “When We Were Younger.” Of course, the most prominent and easily recognizable single from this album is Adele’s ever-quoted call for apology, “Hello,” which came out in the middle of October as a reminder of the reason we adored Adele only a few years ago. We had watched her undergo throat surgery, a new man, and a new baby, and this track seemed to reflect our cries for a new Adele album. Adele answered our calls in the best way she could, working with notable producers like Bruno Mars, Danger Mouse, and Max Martin to let us know she is fed up with every last heart break; “I’m giving you up, I’m forgiving it all,” Adele sings on “Send My Love.”
As corny as it may be, Adele’s formula for the perfect R&B pop song really hits her global audience. She seems to capture the somber regret that comes with the wintry months, and the new year of hope that also comes with them. Sure, we made some mistakes this year, but Adele knows there’s a light at the end of this tunnel and it definitely is not in any man. Though her one-track mind only seems to think about love, Adele sings what she knows best, and does it better than anyone in her generation.