The next round of chart domination comes next from Adele, as we have the #1 selling album for 2015 AND 2016, “25”. Each of her albums are titled with the convention of her current age, so it is four years since her massive hit “21”. Obviously, this was also a major hit, and of the three albums to be #1 for two years in a row, since 1970, two of them came from Adele. I was a little surprised to not see this one in the Rolling Stone Top 500. The only reason I can assume is that critics may have thought this was just more of the same, soulful adult contemporary that spans a wide array of audiences without breaking too much new ground. That is certainly how I see this record.
Many times, I say the first song really sets the tone for the album, and that is the case here to some degree, and I consider that a bit unfortunate. “Hello” was the first single and a major hit, but it is just a little bleak and depressing for my tastes, even as her vocals on this song are remarkable. It is somewhat representative of the entire Adele catalog, and I think that is why I can only listen to so much Adele. There are times in life where sadness takes hold, we all know that, but how about a little sunshine now and then?
The same mindset applies to “When We Were Young”. It just brings me down. This song also has another lyrical misread on my part. For a sometime, I thought the word movie, which is used a dozen times or more, was moonbeam. I’m glad I cleared that one up.
Her other biggest hit from this record is also a breakup song, but at least it has some life to it. The first time I heard “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)”, I remember someone said to me, “Listen, an actual Adele song that isn’t miserable”, and that has always stuck with me. It does have a very sassy chorus and the harmony vocals add a lot of energy to this track, one of my favorites on the record.
There are a couple of other highlights I will call out. “Water Under the Bridge” actually opens as a Kate Bush “Running Up that Hill” sound-alike and carries a strong melody and tempo throughout the entire song. “All I Ask” is a pretty and simple song, but for some of my digs, I can’t deny the creative talent of Adele her, and I learned a bit more about both of these songs with a little more research. One, they both stand out as singles 4 & 5 from the record, so that makes sense, even though I don’t recall them from that time period, and “All I Ask” was actually cowritten by Bruno Mars, which makes sense given its sound. It reminds me a lot of “When I Was Your Man”
Adele is an amazing singer and a gifted performer on every level. I do like it when she switches up the pace a bit, but that observation aside, I can fully appreciate the massive commercial appeal of this record.