Single Review: Adele – ‘Someone Like You’

Well if there ever was a management decision that put The Saturday’s old manager’s frequently observed ineptitude when it came to single releases, this is it. ‘Someone Like You’, having been available from Adele’s sophomore album for nearly fourteen weeks, and having spent five weeks atop the UK Singles Chart already, based on downloads from said album as well as the live recording from the BRIT Awards, is now being released in physical format, nine weeks after it’s last week at #1, which is quite the senseless managerial decision.

By now, we’ve all heard Adele’s haunting vibrato and dusky tones on ‘Someone Like You’. As she softly smothers our ears with droplets of heartbreak, kindly reminding us that at times, when it’s done right, pop music can still evoke a strong emotional response from it’s listeners, a gentle piano melody acts as a mightily powerful accompaniment, only elaborately drawing further on a canvas already full of raw conviction.

It would be useless, nay – patronising, of me to talk about how ‘Someone Like You’ sounds, purely because it’s been inescapable over the last few months, and you can be sure that when Radio 1 and 2 stop playing it, in true Capital FM style, it’ll be spun to death by them too, prolonging the song’s exposure. 

Anyway, back on track, and with a song like this, it’s best if we consider the reactions after the first listen, because unfortunately, and no matter how much of Adele’s voice you’re used to, emotive tracks will wear with time – ‘Someone Like You’now doesn’t provide half the beautifully profound, almost tangible narrative that it had upon my first listen. You see, the song was something of untouched beauty. Unspoilt and natural, with just a vocal and piano performing in seamless harmony that complimented each other will all the immaculate perfection that has comes to be expected of Adele, without once sounding over-rehearsed or forced or too contrived to be convincing.

Music like this was a breath of fresh air to be had when Adele first performed it on Later… with Jools Holland, and once you connect with the lyrics, it’s clear there’s mature adult emotions being divulged in this song as Adele sings with prominent vulnerability and poignancy beneath a powerful exterior during the chorus.

It’s a brilliant ballad, and one rejuvenates that form of a ballad and sets the bar for just how high the standard for real conviction that must be obtained. Alas, it’s murder by means of radio and TV exposure have left it a withering snoozefest. Radio played it like it was the next ‘California Gurls’; the next big summer anthem, but it clearly wasn’t and therefore shouldn’t have been subjected to such exposure. It seems unduly disrespectful to parade this song around. It’s quite a paradox really, but that’s why Adele never meant it to be a single and hides it as an elusive track 11 on her album. Yes, it’s a stunning moment of pure British talent but when it presented to us in the form of something so naturally beautiful, was it right to have it playing every hour or two on radio and shamefully masquerade such a vulnerable slice of someone’s heart and soul as something with the repeatability of a huge dance anthem? Whilst in the chorus, Adele sings out with a new-found confidence in comparison to the timid verses, to song is still a very obviously introverted affair, so it makes sense to respect that fact and play the song individually, to one’s self and to connect personally with the song on your own; something about listening to this song in a car full of people makes for a very awkward journey that mercilessly kills any sense of empathy.

There’s no video for the physical release of yet, so here’s here performance at the BRITs. Which, due to, in the second half of the chorus when Adele brings her vocals down an octave from the album version, trumps the album’s version.

‘Someone Like You’ is a good song, and an exceptionally good ballad, but it did not merit the exposure it got. It’s a humble song the explores a delicate story of Adele’s regret, acceptance, and moving on of a lost love and should therefore be something to empathise in one’s own time.

Rating: 4.5 STARS

Download: April 24, 2011 (OUT NOW)

Featured Album: ’21’

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