Adele recently announced Someone Like You as her US follow-up to her mega hit: Rolling In The Deep.
Already released in the UK as a single off her international multi-platform monster of an album, 21, Someone Like You got to #1 after a brilliantly heartbreaking show-stopping performance at the Brits. Why review the song now? Well, what better opportunity to write an extensive praise of such brilliance than when this unconventional choice for US radio is preparing to hopefully become a hit there as well?
Someone Like You is a song about the regret that you feel but cannot share. It’s a deeply personal song about all the words Adele couldn’t say to the person to whom this song is meant. Someone Like You starts with things Adele heard about him. He settled down, found a girl and married her. She tries to feign courage by asking him why he’s shy, since it’s very unlike him. And then she confesses that she she had hoped by turning out of the blue, uninvited, and by seeing her face, he’d be reminded that for her, it’s not over.
And then Adele sings the heartbreaking chorus: “Nevermind, I’ll find someone like you. I wish nothing but the best for you two…” You can feel the desperation in her voice as she sings those lines. Her voice breaks when she wishes nothing but the best for them two. And then she begs: “Don’t forget me, I beg. I remember you said, sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead.”
The song proceeds to the path of memories. “You’d know how the time flies, only yesterday was the time of our lives… we were born and raised in a summer haze, bound by the surprise of our glory days,” alluding to a summer romance that took place between the two before she apologizes again about showing up out of the blue uninvited, hoping that when he had seen her face, he’d be reminded that it’s not over.
Someone Like You is not a song about Adele being bitter. It’s about her being in love – so in love, in fact, that she can let the person go and wish nothing but the best for him, regardless of how much that might hurt her.
Someone Like You is a hypothetical song that Adele is singing to herself, not her former lover’s face. She’s imagining herself standing in front of him and giving her heart away. The whole scenario of how he would act and how she would response is in her head, sort of like the countless times when we imagine scenarios and play them out in our imagination before trying to act on them. But she knows acting on the plot she set up with “Someone Like You” is not the correct thing to act on. She cannot show up out of the blue and have such a confession for him. It would be wrong from her part. So even though she wants him to remember her and even though she still loves him, she hopes, in the song, to hopefully find someone like him, someday, to make her feel that sensation of love. With whom she can share her memories, her moments and her life.
Rolling In The Deep was a song that basically said: “you’re leaving? fine. Go. I don’t care.” With Someone Like You, Adele is crawling back slowly to her former lover, acknowledging that she’s not as strong as she thought – “who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?”
On Someone Like You, Adele delivers a brilliantly chilling vocal performance that is so full of nuances that it delivers the lyrics without much effort. There is a sense of vulnerability with her delivery that channels the pain she’s feeling when she was recording this masterpiece. And she makes it look so easy. How so? Every single performance she has delivered of this song was even better than the album version. Her Brits performance got this song to go to #1 in the UK almost overnight due to the massive sales she generated after bringing people to tears.
What’s more of a testament to the strength of this song is that it’s deeply personal. The lyrics were written in a way not to let it seem open-ended. It was written for a specific person, with no intention of making it something that everyone can relate to. At least that’s what Adele said. But everyone related to Someone Like You because everyone found something that struck a cord within the specific vulnerability conveyed among the lines of that song.
With Rolling In The Deep, US pop radio took a bold step in the correct musical direction. It gave a deserving and great song the chance to be a huge hit and it ended up staying at #1 for 7 weeks at the Hot 100. With Someone Like You, one only hopes pop radio would also give a gut-wrenching ballad the chance to be something big. Simply because Someone Like You is one of the greatest songs released this year.
Listen to the album version of Someone Like You here:
And the Brits live performance: