Before she was the powerhouse of emotion who stole our hearts, becoming the darling of the music industry everyone in their right mind cherished like a piece of their own souls, Adele was just another impressive Pop vocalist with an intriguingly anachronistic singing style, her debut album ‘19’ merely showcasing the impressive breadth of her vocal talents for such a young artist. It wasn’t until her next record ‘21’ that she truly caught fire – pun intended – with songs like “Set Fire to the Rain” & “Rolling in the Deep,” powerful anthems of heartache & anguish which blasted listeners with an incredibly cinematic production quality you simply couldn’t ignore, skyrocketing up the Top 100 charts with relative ease all over the world as she captivated audiences & won our hearts. While these songs illustrated the true emotional impact of a woman scorned, another song stood out for entirely different reasons, showing a sensitive, broken side to Adele she hadn’t quite expressed before, an incredibly intimate narrative that leaves you breathless in its wake – Unlike the rest of the album, “Someone Like You” dealt with the repercussions of Adele’s tragic breakup in a more subdued manner, speaking from the point of view of a woman who had aged some time since the event & finally come to terms with the reality of her situation, begrudgingly letting of the hatred she had held for so long. She sings about running into her former lover after he had found a more suitable match, now married & living the happy life Adele was supposed to have shared with him, rousing those painful memories once again within her as she dreams of what could have been. As the song goes on, she builds the courage to confront him one final time, asking him never to forget her as he solemnly swears “I’ll remember,” giving her the faintest semblance of closure despite still reeling with anguish at the thought of losing her one true love, destined to walk the earth alone forevermore.
What’s so spectacular about this narrative is that it comes from a place of truth, all of ‘21’ written about an actual relationship that left Adele emotionally devastated, giving her vocal portrayal of the story so much depth & character. She sings a tender melody over nothing but a steadily arpeggiating piano line, its melancholy chord progression providing a somber foundation over which she croons ever-so-agonizingly, bending & breaking with each lyric in breathy, mournful melodies which decay in long-tailed fashion; You can feel her resignation to the unfortunate reality of her situation, her exasperated tone sucking the life out of you during the verses before erupting into incredible displays of sorrow during the bright, bold choruses, the sound of her heart breaking literally audible towards the final vocal breakdown as she pushes out the words through tears & sobs, the pain still fresh in her heart – As if this performance wasn’t excruciatingly difficult enough to endure, the accompanying music video features Adele walking solemnly along a river in what looks like the middle of autumn – although England is always gloomy so it’s anyone’s guess what season it is – on a cold day, filmed in black & white with harsh contrast as to convey the utter darkness she feels in this narrative; Everything from the bundled up clothing that provides her with security to the stoic demeanor on her face does wonders to visually illustrate how detached from reality she has become, so cold & emotionless that she’s left wandering around aimlessly looking for meaning in her life, eventually crossing the bridge entirely as the song ends to suggest that she might finally be ready to move past the emotions that’ve held on to her for so long, a subtle but powerful production that feels perfect for this arrangement – You don’t need my analysis to tell you this, but “Someone Like You” is an incredibly special song, one that will live on in history as one of the saddest, most moving compositions in modern Pop music, a testament to Adele’s spectacular songwriting prowess.
"Someone like You" is a song recorded by English singer-songwriter Adele. It was written and produced by Adele and Dan Wilson for her second studio album, 21 (2011). It is the second single and final track on the album. The song was inspired by a broken relationship with one's life partner, and lyrically speaks of Adele's coming to terms with it. XL Recordings released the song as the second single from the album on 24 January 2011 (the same day the album was released) in the United Kingdom and on 9 August 2011 in the United States. Accompanied only by a piano in the song (played by co-writer Wilson), Adele sings about the end of the relationship with her ex-partner.