Adele’s 21 album surpassed expectations to become a monster hit, the type of big-selling album that most people thought wasn’t possible in the 2010s (and seriously, probably won’t happen again). I’m pretty sure that Adele’s record company (and maybe not Adele herself, since she seems so blase about her success and that’s actually kind of endearing) wanted to start her next album campaign off with a bang.
They delivered. “Hello” is a huge ballad that’s well-constructed, thoughtfully written, and sung the living shit out of. It’s not bombastic and over-the-top in the way that, say, a Celine Dion ballad is. Although Adele is belting for a solid chunk of the song, it doesn’t feel showy. She appears to be really singing her feelings. There’s a relatable, human element to “Hello” that keeps it from being too extra. The fact that Adele writes her own songs probably helps.
A slew of “Hello” covers surfaced online mere days after Adele’s version was released, including one from R&B singer/songwriter Joe. Joe is certainly capable of writing and producing his own music (and had already been doing so for two decades by 2015), but there’s something about the songs he chooses to cover (see: this excellent Phil Collins cover) that makes them really special. His version of “Hello” is pretty much identical to the original (I mean, how much can you mess with a piano ballad), but he sings those lyrics like someone is ripping his heart out and stomping on it in real time. Who hurt you, Joe? And can you channel those feelings for an entire album some time soon?