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Track Review

If you're wondering how eager fans have been for Adele to sing something new, one really big number helps answer the question for you: 27.7 million.

That's how many views the British songstress's first single from her album 25 racked up in its first 24 hours on YouTube in 2015. It's a stunning metric, topping the likes of Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus, One Direction, Justin Bieber and Rihanna. And the fireworks didn't end there. After two weeks, the tally had already rocketed past the 200 million mark. Adele also set records for most streamed listens on Spotify and the most digital copies sold in a week.

But none of that seems to make this sad-song crooner want to sing for joy. No. Not even her now-permanent boyfreind and a new baby can do that. Because Adele knows what she's good at: angst and heartache, regret and reminiscence. And it's all there on "Hello."

And by Hello She Means Good-Bye

The first verse of this slow and emotive piano ballad finds Adele playing the part of a woman trying to reconnect with an ex after many years of separation. "Hello, it's me," she begins tentatively. "I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet/To go over everything?" While that sounds perhaps hopeful, it's soon apparent that this woman has had a hard time since the pair parted. She sings, "They say that time's supposed to heal you, but I ain't done much healing."

It's an agonized admission that paves the way for Adele to sing about memories she cherishes. "I'm in California, dreaming about who we used to be/When we were younger and free." Now, however? "There's such a difference between us/And a million miles."

She's sorry, of course ("I must've called a thousand times/To tell you I'm sorry for everything that I've done"). She's resigned ("At least I can say that I've tried/To tell you I'm sorry for breaking your heart"). She's curious ("Did you ever make it out of that town where nothing ever happened?"). And she's more than a little desperate ("It's no secret that the both of us/Are running out of time").

Her man from so long ago, though? Not so much. Adele muses sadly. "It clearly doesn't tear you apart/Anymore."

Cue the twin waterworks. Grab the quart of ice cream out of the freezer. This is an emotionally freighted ballad about blatant loss and rushing regret, one that the amazing Adele lifts to the heights of tragi-romantic glory with her glorious voice.

A better title for it, however, would have been "Good-Bye," because it's pretty clear that this woman is never ever ever getting back together with the man whose heart she's convinced she harmed.

Adele's Earnest Everywoman Appeal

The video for "Hello" is understated, dramatic and intimate … without being too intimate, thankfully. Surrounded by the somberness of sepia, Adele returns to a long-unused cabin in the country and begins to pull the covering sheets off furniture there. As she tidies up, memories of an old boyfriend fill her mind (and the screen) as tears roll down her cheeks.

It's exactly what you'd expect to see in an Adele video. And the song is exactly what you'd expect Adele to sing.

Indeed, Adele's nearly universal appeal isn't based on surprise. Rather, it's based on how completely, how utterly she's able to inhabit sad songs like this one, her breathy, earnest, fragile-but-powerful voice articulating emotions so many of us have felt at some point in our lives.

But I should say good-bye by pointing out that most of us do end up moving on after the heartbreak. Most of us can reach down deep and pull ourselves up and out of the hole we've climbed into. "Hello" doesn't give us even a hint of that healing.

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