The lead single from 25, this was released on October 23, 2015. The song title is apt, as it marks Adele's return to music after a three-year hiatus.
The epic ballad was written by Adele and Greg Kurstin (Pink's "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)," Sia's "Chandelier"), who also produced the song. It appears to continue the theme of Adele's previous album, 21, which was a breakup record, but this time it's the singer who has broken someone's heart:
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
On the surface Adele appears to be trying to get in touch with a former lover. However, despite her reputation for breakup anthems, Adele told Ryan Seacrest she is not addressing anyone specifically. "I have a little curiosity about my past now that I'm a grown up," the 25 singer explained. "We're not kids anymore and stuff like that. It's kind of a hello to all my old friends, all the relationships I've had, all my old teachers, my little me when I was 7 or 8, and also a bit of a hello to all my fans because I've been gone for so long."
The music video was filmed in the countryside near Montreal and directed by Canadian actor and director Xavier Dolan (Mommy, Tom at the Farm). The clip features Adele picking over the pieces of a failed relationship. Tristan "Mack" Wilds (AKA Michael Lee from The Wire and Dixon Wilson from 90210) plays her ex in flashbacks.
Speaking to the LA Times, Xavier Dolan, described the video as "highly unoriginal." He added: "The lyrics are 'Hello, it's me' and then you see someone picking up a phone. I'm not good at imagining super-conceptual videos. I just thought it would be nice to have her walk around the house and make phone calls and end up in a forest, with maybe some flashbacks in it."
The clip shows Adele using an old fashioned flip-phone, leaving fans wondering why the star does not have a smartphone. "It drives me crazy," Dolan said regarding the chatter on social media about the device. "I could see the GIFs on Twitter. I'm like, 'guys, get over it. It doesn't matter.' But the real explanation is that I never like filming modern phones or cars. They're so implanted in our lives that when you see them in movies you're reminded you're in reality."
"If you see an iPhone or a Toyota in a movie, they're anti-narrative, they take you out of the story," he added. "If I put an iPhone or a modern car in a movie it feels like I'm making a commercial."
The video broke the 24-hour Vevo record by achieving 27.7 million views. The title of most views in a single day for a video was previously held by Taylor Swift for her "Bad Blood" clip.
Taylor Swift recaptured the record from Adele when her visual for "Look What You Made Me Do," achieved 43.2 million views on its first day after release in August 2017.
The opening lyric, "Hello, it's me" is the name of a Todd Rundgren song about a different kind of aching conversation - in that one Rundgren is breaking up with a girl.
Speaking about the line, "Hello from the other side," Adele told Rolling Stone: "It sounds a bit morbid, like I'm dead, but it's actually just from the other side of becoming an adult, making it out alive from your late teens, early twenties."
Adele explained the song's meaning to i-D. "The song is about hurting someone's feelings but it's also about trying to stay in touch with myself, which sometimes can be a little bit hard to do," she said. "It's about a yearning for the other side of me. When I'm away, I really, really miss my life at home. The way that I feel when I'm not in England, is... desperation. I can't breathe anywhere else."
"I'm so attached to my whole life here," Adele added. "I get worked up that I'm missing out on things. So Hello is about wanting to be at home and wanting to reach out to everyone I've ever hurt - including myself - and apologize for it."
This song has a fairly standard form (verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus) but Adele's wild shifts in vocal intensity make the song dynamic. The first chorus doesn't hit until 1:06, which is a long time to wait in a pop song. By making the listener wait for it (something Katy Perry wouldn't do), when Adele lets loose, the chorus has more impact.
After this first chorus, the intensity drops for the second verse, but returns for chorus #2 and remains high throughout the bridge, which in this song is a vocal break where she plays off the line "it clearly doesn't tear you apart anymore" with repetitions of "Oooh... Anymore" before returning for the last chorus.
When making the video, Xavier Dolan asked Adele her to cry. She made them play Labrinth's single "Jealous," as it has such an emotional impact on her. "You could play it at my kid's birthday and I'd burst into tears," Adele said.
Faintly heard conversations between Adele and Mack Wilds can be heard during the flashbacks. These exchanges were mostly improvised. "For a while we kind of just sat in a room and talked and he just recorded it," Wilds told Entertainment Weekly. "A lot of the stuff that he recorded - our conversations, or questions that he asked, or different times we were laughing or joking around - [he] kind of put that stuff on camera. It was amazing to watch."
"Hello" shifted 1.1 million downloads in its first seven days in the US, becoming the first song ever to sell over a million downloads in a week. It broke the previous record of Flo Rida's "Right Round," which was downloaded 636,000 times in 2009.
Six kinds of instruments were used on this track, most prominently the piano which plays throughout the song. Drums, synthesizers, guitar, strings, and bass also appear. The drums in the first two choruses and the second verse were played with mallets for a more muffled, orchestral sound; they were played with sticks in the third chorus. There is also a tubular bell effect that comes in on this third chorus.
Fans have pointed out similarities between "Hello" and Tom Waits' 1973 song "Martha," which centers around a telephone conversation between the narrator and an old flame. Its lyrics include: "Hello, hello there, is this Martha?"
Greg Kurstin told Entertainment Weekly how Waits inspired the tune, saying: "She didn't want to just go through and write a pop song with any particular formula. We talked about Tom Waits, and different storytellers like that. I think that was the idea, that we wanted to do something that was very honest about where she was at right now, and she wanted to do something that was real and believable."
Adele and Greg Kurstin were supposed to work together on music for 21, but it didn't work out. When they finally arranged to write songs for the English singer's follow-up record in 2014, the American producer couldn't help feeling nervous. But that changed once he set foot in the studio, and they started working on such tracks as "Hello," "Water Under the Bridge" and "Million Years Ago."
"She's just so wonderful to be around. She is funny and she's just so down-to-earth. ... You can immediately relate to her and connect with her," Kurstin told The Associated Press. "I really felt very comfortable around her because she makes you feel that way. She's just cool, and then she gets on the microphone and of course blows your mind."
In her first American television appearance in support of 25, Adele joined host Matthew McConaughey on the November 21, 2015 episode of Saturday Night Live where she performed this song and "When We Were Young." The song also featured in a sketch where the tune brought a family together during a Thanksgiving discussion.
The word "Hello" only appears nine times in the lyric, but it gets prime position as the first word in the verses:
Hello, it's me Hello, can ya hear me?
And in the choruses:
Hello from the other side
This reinforces the title, leaving no doubt what it's called. Most hit songs don't mention the title in the verses, but repeat it a few times in the choruses.
Adele told The New York Times' Jon Pareles that the line from this song, "It's so typical of me to talk about myself, I'm sorry" is her favorite lyric she's ever written.
There was a 6-month gap between writing the verses and the chorus of "Hello."
"We had half a song written," Greg Kurstin told Rolling Stone. "I just had to be very patient."
The 25 album is taking up plenty of space in the Guinness Book of Records. It sold a whopping 3.38 million copies in its first seven days of release, setting a new record for the biggest single sales week since Nielsen began tracking sales in 1991. We said bye bye bye to the previous record holder NSYNC, whose No Strings Attached long player sold 2,416,000 units during its first three and a half days in stores in March 2000 (it was released on a Thursday and only counted three days of sales during its debut week).
25 also sold a million copies in two separate weeks in the US, the first album to achieve such a feat.
In the UK 25 sold 800,307 copies in its first week, an Official Chart Company record. The album passed the previous record holder Oasis' 1997 set Be Here Now, which sold 696,000 copies in its first seven days of release.
By its tenth day 25 had sold over one million copies in the UK breaking the Official UK Album Chart record for the fastest million-selling album ever.
The rapper Rick Ross did a popular remix of this track as part of his 2015 Renzel Remixes series. Ross is a huge fan of the singer. "I love Adele," he told Rolling Stone. "When I see her, I may kiss Adele. She speaks for so many people."
Not only does Adele sing the song beautifully, but she also plays drums on the track.
This won Best British Single at the 2016 BRIT Awards. Adele also took home the gongs for Best Album, Best British Female and Global Success.
Adele opened the Grammy Awards in 2017 with a performance of this song, marking a triumphant return after a choppy performance of "All I Ask" the previous year. Her night was far from over though. Later, she sang the George Michael song "Fastlove" in a tribute to the singer, who died on Christmas day, 2016. As she started the first chorus, it went wonky and she stopped singing. "I f--ked up," she said, before asking to start over. The orchestra took it from the top and Michael's tribute video playing the background was re-racked; this time she got through the emotional performance in tact, receiving a rousing ovation and widespread acclaim for a fitting tribute to Michael.
Oh yeah, later in the telecast, "Hello" won Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Pop Solo Performance, and 25 took Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. Accepting for Song of the Year, Adele thanked her co-writer Greg Kurstin for "your patience with me, and helping to create my favorite song I've ever done."
George from Vancouver, Canada"hello from the other side" sounded like she was trying to reach someone dear who'd died.
Chi Girl from NigeriaThis is why show organizers prefer non-live singing. There isn't likely to be a mess up. You can successfully deceive people into thinking you sang your heart out when you were just lip-syncing.