How perfect: this is my first piece as a KXSU writer, and these are the three words that have defined the last week in music.
Hello, it’s me.
My name is Craig Jaffe, and I’m a third-year undergraduate student at Seattle University. Throughout the year, this column is going to focus on unpacking lyrics of the songs we’re all listening to, the songs I think you should be listening to, and those lyrics that need some, uh, proofreading.
Let’s talk about what everyone else is talking about: ADELE. This woman is a magician. It’s been nearly half a decade since that blessing of an album, 21, was released, and she’s finally returned with a conversational song of personal investment and mild existentialism that has stopped every listener in their tracks, myself included. Written by Adele and Greg Kurstin, “Hello”, finds present-day Adele talking to the person she used to be.
“Hello, it’s me.”
What an iconic opening. Something so simple has already become a cultural phenomenon. Maybe we’ve become so swept up in those first three words because she’s been away from the spotlight for so long, or maybe we’re naturally pulled towards the invitation she extends to us to peek into her conversation. It’s like we get to eavesdrop, but without the bad karma. Sandwiched between two sultry verses about reconnecting with the person she once knew is that scrumptious chorus that’s making everyone’s jaws drop:
HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIDE / I MUST’VE CALLED A THOUSAND TIMES
TO TELL YOU I’M SORRY FOR EVERYTHING THAT I’VE DONE /
BUT WHEN I CALL YOU NEVER SEEM TO BE HOME.
Adele’s smooth vocal performance elevates this chorus to new heights, but it’s the natural simplicity of this hook (yes, the whole chorus is a hook), that, when written out, that makes us all reminisce about a time where we tried to reignite a flame that burnt out while we were beating new paths. “Hello” has obviously brought us comfort, like most Adele songs. But, it also brings a wary sense of discomfort. Adele manages to address her personal, detrimental ignorance. She’s ‘fessed up, and now apologizing to the person she once was.
Apologizing. Becoming self-aware. Seeing the change she’s gone through. These are things that so many of us find discomfort in. We fear the idea of facing our own evolutions. I fear it! I’m sure you, or people you know, do, too. That’s what “Hello” does. Its lyrics have humanized this conflict of defending your present-day self when being pitted against who you used to be. Either way, you lose, and that’s why “Hello” packs a punch.
THERE’S SUCH A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US / AND A MILLION MILES.
Use this line from the first verse as a way of reflection: are you who you are? Are you who you want to be? Who were you before, and who are you now? “Hello” is Adele’s answer to all of those questions, and now we get the pleasure of doing it ourselves at the helm of this phenomenally penned lead single. (…or displeasure, since we probably won’t get a multi-Platinum selling #1 hit from of our processes of discernment. But hey, crazier things have happened!)
Future reference: I’ll be featuring readers’ lyrics, so if you’d like your work to be in this column, just shoot me an email! (featuring, not critiquing or reviewing; I don’t bite, I promise!)
Craig Jaffe | KXSU Reporter