First Hit #1: September 17, 2011
For a pop song, especially a pop song released in 2011, Someone Like You is almost shockingly minimal. Piano and voice, the stripped down core, no unnecessary fill, nothing electronic, it’s just these two instruments. Yet, the song is full anyway, if there were more than these two elements it would be in danger of getting too sentimental, too cheesy, maybe too manipulative. With so little there, but an intense focus and performance, it kind of just emphasizes the raw emotion of the song. Adele’s vocal isn’t perfect, seemingly deliberately so, it’s trying to sound like the morning after a night of tears, a song about coming to terms with a former lover moving on while not actually sounding like she has come to terms with it at all. And there is nothing to distract from that, no attempt to gild the lily, the distinct lack of production trickery allowing the song to feel nuanced and complex. Plus it stands out, a lack of production defining it an era which remains somewhat maximalist.