I had planned to write a post a few weeks ago about Adele, in advance of her new album, 25. I failed, as the album was released last Thursday so instead I will write a post that includes her latest album.
I love Adele.
I remember first hearing “Right As Rain” back in high school and thinking it was a black woman singing (I was wrong). After that song, I bought her first album 19 and fell in love with almost every track. Her voice was different and beautiful but her songs were so easy to relate to. Thus began a beautiful love affair.
Of all my friends, I tend to be the most surprisingly nostalgic and introspective. I imagine it’s surprising because I don’t think I come off that way upon first meeting but anyone who knows me well knows that I can easily cross into moments of deep self-reflection, nostalgia, and general angst. (Maybe it’s my spiritual gift.) So listening to Adele reminds me of that.
I don’t think I’m alone in this ability; in fact, I think many 20-somethings have within themselves the ability to be airy and light, and also deep and pensive. In fact, this might be representative of what it means to be in your 20s. At one moment you ride high on anthems like “We Are Young” and at the next you consider how fleeting youth really is. The 20s are a pretty crazy time in life and the feelings you get being a 20-something are also pretty crazy.
This is what I feel when I listen to Adele and this is why I (somewhat jokingly) tell my friends that she is the voice of our generation. She, like so many others, knows what it is to be heartbroken and sad and that’s a major part of what makes her songs so poignant. But she also knows that the face we present to the world isn’t our more or less true self, it’s just the self we’re expressing in that moment.
That last sentence is mostly in response to the only semi-negative review I’ve heard of Adele’s most recent album. The writer wondered why Adele continues to tap into the angst and sadness of 25 instead of the joy, sarcasm, and general coolness that she exudes in person. The comment reminds me of one my friend said to me last night.
A couple years ago, I got annoyed with the idea of being thought of only as a “cool person”. It felt stifling and disingenuous. And somehow the topic came up again last night. But this time, a few months shy of 25, I had a different feeling about it. I didn’t mind. The moment after I said that I wondered if I was just lying. That happens sometimes. Sometimes I say what seems right instead of what is true. So I wondered if this was one of those times. But I don’t think it is. I don’t mind so much if people think of me as cool. I don’t need people to see the depth that I once thought I possessed in fathoms. One reason is that it doesn’t matter that much. The other reason is that I’m not that deep.
I feel like 25 is aware of this. It knows that it’s not super deep even if it doesn’t ever say it. It feels like Adele is just chronicling her life and asking people to join in on it with her. It’s not false or over done, it’s the kind of nostalgia that only someone in their 20s feels. After all, nostalgia is a young man’s game.
So, in honor of Adele and her awesomeness and coolness and the way she exudes a person-I’d-love-to-have-a-deep-late-night-conversation-with-in-a-crowded-bar aura, here are my current favorite Adele songs. I’m sure these will change by the time she releases her next album – they’ll probably change next month – but until then, these are my favs.
- When We Were Young – This song is such a nostalgia fest! Supposedly it was written about friendship so obviously this would be my favorite song. It’s one of those songs that makes me almost want to cry. I actually have the equal and opposite reaction to this song as I do to the aforementioned “We Are Young”.
- Don’t You Remember – At the moment, I enjoy this more than 21‘s breakout hit, “Someone Like You”. No particular reason though.
- River Lea (there’s no version of this online)- This one took me a while to get into but now I really like it. It’s similar to 19‘s “Hometown Glory” in that it’s about where she grew up and how that has affected her. It just sticks with you.
- Make You Feel My Love – I like a lot of songs from 19 but this is the one I had on repeat back in high school. It’s a cover of a song that other artists have done but I love the way Adele does it.
- Someone Like You – It was actually hard to pick number 5 because there are a few songs from 25 that could also go here but I didn’t want to make this a list of my favorite songs from Adele’s most recent album. I also considered adding “Chasing Pavements” but it’s really hard to make a list of top Adele songs and not include “Someone Like You”. It’s the song everyone knows her for, it’s great, it’s instantly memorable, and the lyric “never mind, I’ll find someone like you” could be the subject of countless music theory term papers. It’s a classic, man.
Anyway, you should buy the new Adele album. It’s amazing. And then you should make a list of your favorite Adele songs.