Hello (Adele song)
"Hello" is a song by British singer-songwriter Adele, released on 23 October 2015 by XL Recordings as the lead single from her third studio album, 25 (2015). Adele co-wrote the song with her producer, Greg Kurstin. "Hello" is a piano ballad with soul influences, and lyrics that discuss themes of nostalgia and regret. Upon release, the song was acclaimed by music critics, who compared it favourably to Adele's previous work and praised the song's lyrics and Adele's vocals. It was recorded in London's Metropolis Studios.
"Hello" reached number one in almost every country it charted in, including the United Kingdom, where it became her second chart topper, following "Someone Like You", and has the largest opening week sales in three years. In the United States, "Hello" debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, reigning for 10 consecutive weeks whilst becoming Adele's fourth number-one on the chart and breaking several records, including becoming the first song to sell over a million digital copies in a week. By the end of 2015, it had sold 12.3 million units globally (combined sales and track-equivalent streams) and was the year's 7th best-selling single while it stands as one of the best-selling singles of all-time.
The accompanying music video was directed by Xavier Dolan and co-stars Adele and Tristan Wilds. The music video for the song broke the Vevo Record by achieving over 27.7 million views within a 24-hour span, held previously by Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" which accumulated 20.1 million views in that timeframe. The record was then later broken by Swift in 2017 for the video for her song “Look What You Made Me Do” which gained over 43.2 million views in the timeframe. "Hello" also broke the record for shortest time to reach one billion YouTube views (87 days). The clip received seven nominations at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year and Best Female Video. Adele promoted the song with a live performance on a BBC one-hour-long special, entitled Adele at the BBC. At the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, "Hello" won three Grammy Awards: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance. At the 36th Brit Awards, "Hello" won British Single of the Year and was nominated for British Video of the Year.
Writing and composition
"Hello" was written by Adele and Greg Kurstin and produced by the latter. Kurstin also played bass, guitar, drums, piano and keyboards, while Adele also played drums. "Hello" was written in Chiswick, London, something not normally done by Adele, who said she likes to write her music at home. The writing process for the song was slow, taking six months to complete. Initially Adele and Kurstin started writing the first verse; finishing half of the song, six months later Adele contacted Kurstin to finish the song with her, with Kurstin stating he was not sure "if Adele was ever going to come back and finish it."
"Hello" is a soul piano ballad, played in the key of F minor at a tempo of 79 beats per minute. The repeated chord progression heard in the verse, played by the piano, follows two progressions and a passage(Bridge) progression(passage or Bridge progression connects two main progressions to each other) of Progression #1: Fm(i)–A♭(III)–E♭(VII)–D♭(VI),Passage progression: Fm(i)–E♭(VII)-Cm(v)-D♭(VI)-Fm7(i7)-E♭(VII)–D♭(VI),Progression #2:Fm(i)–D♭/F(VI)–A♭(III)–E♭(VII). According to Musicnotes.com, Adele's vocals span from F3 to A♭5 in the song. During the chorus, Adele is heard singing the lines over layers of backing vocals, piano and drums which were described by The Daily Telegraph as having "a very luscious wall of sound".
Lyrically, the song focuses on themes of nostalgia and regret and plays out like a conversation. The song was noted for containing themes of regret and was seen as a follow-up to her single "Someone like You" appearing to reflect on a failed relationship. The song's lyrics were also seen as being conversational, revolving around "all the relationships of her past", ranging from friends, family members and ex-partners. Speaking on the song's lyrical content, Adele told Nick Grimshaw on The Radio 1 Breakfast Show: "I felt all of us were moving on, and it's not about an ex-relationship, a love relationship, it's about my relationship with everyone that I love. It's not that we have fallen out, we've all got our lives going on and I needed to write that song so they would all hear it, because I'm not in touch with them." According to Adele, the line "Hello from the other side" signifies "the other side of becoming an adult, making it out alive from your late teens, early twenties."
Release and reception
On 18 October 2015, a 30-second clip of "Hello" was played during a commercial break on The X Factor in the United Kingdom. The commercial teased what was then new material, with her vocals accompanied by lyrics on a black screen. Josh Duboff of Vanity Fair wrote that "the Internet collectively lost its mind" after the broadcast of the trailer. On 22 October, Adele announced the upcoming release of 25 to her fans on Twitter. She also shared that "Hello" would be released on 23 October as the lead single off of the album. On 23 October, Adele joined Nick Grimshaw's show on BBC Radio 1 for the song's premiere.
Alexis Petridis of The Guardian described it as "a big ballad, but a superior example of its kind", and opined that the song is "precisely the kind of lovelorn epic ballad that made Adele one of the biggest stars in the world." Writing for The Independent, Emily Jupp stated in her review of the song that it "might not be groundbreaking, but Adele's return with her familiar, smoky sound is very welcome". She called it an "'if it ain't broke' ballad" and said: "Adele does what she does best, belting out emotional tales of love and loss much the same as with her last album, 21, but this time, with a little more self-forgiveness."
Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune wrote: "Lyrics that work best when they zoom in on personal details match her combination of vocal power and restraint." Neil McCormick from The Daily Telegraph called it "a beautiful song of loss and regret", adding that "it takes a grip on the kind of memory every listener holds somewhere in their heart and merges it with Adele's own drama." Rolling Stone ranked "Hello" at number 6 on its year-end list to find the 50 best songs of 2015. Several publications have commented on similarities in the theme of the song and accompanying video with that of "Hello" by American singer Lionel Richie.
Europe and Oceania
Three days after its release, the Official Charts Company announced that "Hello" had accumulated 165,000 chart sales in the United Kingdom, of which 156,000 were downloads. "Hello" entered at the top of the UK Singles Chart on 30 October 2015, – for the week dated 5 November 2015 – with 333,000 combined sales, of which 259,000 were downloads, making it the biggest selling number-one single on the chart in three years. It marked Adele's second UK number-one single, after 2011's "Someone like You". Additionally, "Hello" was streamed 7.32 million times in its first week, breaking the streaming record previously held by Justin Bieber's "What Do You Mean?". Including streaming sales and excluding The X Factor and Pop Idol winners' singles, major charity campaign records and Christmas number ones, "Hello" was the second biggest selling number one of the 21st century in the UK, beaten only by Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me", which sold 345,000 copies in a week in February 2001. The following week, the song remained at number one after selling a further 121,000 downloads and was streamed 5.78 million times, the same week the song was certified Gold by the BPI. On 20 May 2016, it spent its 30th week in the UK Top 100. As of November 2016, the song has sold 918,700 in pure sales.
The song also debuted at number one in Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland.
In Australia, "Hello" entered at the top of the ARIA Singles Chart on 31 October 2015, selling over 59,075 units, which earned the song a gold certification in its first week. The song also became the second fastest-selling single of the year, behind Wiz Khalifa's "See You Again". It marked Adele's second number-one single on the ARIA Singles Chart following 2011's "Someone like You". The single stayed atop the chart for a second week and was certified platinum selling over 70,000 units. On 20 March 2017, Hello re-entered the chart at number 50 and has so far been certified 7x platinum for sales over 490,000 units.
In New Zealand, the song debuted at number one on the New Zealand singles chart, holding the position the following week and was certified platinum.
In the United States, "Hello" debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 on 2 November 2015, for the chart dated 14 November 2015, becoming only the 24th song to debut at number one. "Hello" started at number 49 on the Radio Songs chart, after three days of release. In its first full week of airplay, it rose from 45 to 9, up 146% to 70 million all format audience impressions. The track started at number one on the On-Demand Songs chart with a record 20.4 million on-demand streams, becoming her first number-one song on the chart. "Hello" entered at the top of the Digital Songs chart with sales of 1,112,000, becoming the first track to sell over one million digital copies in a single week and almost doubling the record for the most downloads sold in a week, previously held by Flo Rida's "Right Round", which sold 636,000 downloads in the week ending 28 February 2009. "Hello" started with 61.6 million US streams, becoming her first number-one song and the second greatest weekly total on the Streaming Songs chart, behind Baauer's "Harlem Shake", which registered 103 million streams on week of 3 March 2013. "Hello" is the first song to sell more than a million digital copies in a single week and the third highest weekly sales total since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991. Only Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997/Something About the Way You Look Tonight" has sold more in a single week, selling 3.446 million copies in its opening week and 1.212 million copies in its second week.
In its second week, "Hello" stayed at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, selling another 635,000 digital copies marking the third-best digital sales week and the highest for a non-debut week. "Hello" also held atop Streaming Songs with 47.4 million US streams, down 23 percent from 61.6 million in its first week, the track also stayed atop the On-Demand Songs with 18.1 million streams. On the Radio Songs chart, "Hello" moved from 9 to 6, up by 46% to 106 million all-format audience impressions, thus becoming the top Airplay Gainer on the Hot 100. The track also moved from two to one on the Adult Alternative Songs airplay chart and moved nine to four on the Adult Contemporary format. The following week, the song stayed at the top of the Hot 100 and Digital Songs chart, selling 480,000 downloads and becoming just the third song to sell over 400,000 copies for three straight weeks. "Hello" also rose from 6 to 1 on the Radio Songs chart in just its fourth week (the greatest leap to number one on the chart's 25-year history), marking the quickest climb to number one on the chart in 22 years, since Mariah Carey's "Dreamlover" reached the top in its fourth frame on 28 August 1993. Additionally, "Hello" became just the third song to top the Hot 100, Digital Songs, Streaming Songs, On-Demand Songs and Radio Songs tallies simultaneously in the nearly three years all five charts had coexisted. "Hello" remained atop the Hot 100 for ten consecutive weeks, becoming only the 31st No. 1 in the Hot 100's history to reign for at least 10 weeks, and only the 3rd for a number one debut, following "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men (16 weeks) and "Candle in the Wind 1997/Something About the Way You Look Tonight" by Elton John (14 weeks). By spending a tenth week at the top of the chart, it became Adele's longest-running number-one single and the longest-leading Hot 100 No. 1 by a solo female since Rihanna's "We Found Love," featuring Calvin Harris, which also led for 10 weeks in 2011–2012. As of January 2016, it had sold 3.7 million downloads. The Recording Industry Association of America certified the song quadruple platinum. The single also benefitted from numerous Dance/EDM remixes as well, thus resulting in "Hello" topping Billboard's Dance Club Songs and Dance/Mix Show Airplay charts. On the chart dated 23 April 2016, the song spent a 21st week at the top of the Adult Contemporary Chart, matching the record set by Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" (2005) and Celine Dion's "A New Day Has Come" (2002) for the longest No. 1 run among women since the list launched in 1961. It also equaled the third-longest stay at the summit among all acts.
"Hello" debuted at number one on the Canadian Hot 100 on 3 November 2015, for the chart dated 14 November 2015, selling 140,000 copies and outsold Justin Bieber's "Sorry", which sold 40,000 units the same week. The song was streamed 4.79 million times in its first week, setting a record for the most streamed track in a single week in Canada.
"When I heard the song I saw a story right away. [The video] is highly unoriginal. 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 accompanying music video for the song was directed by Canadian actor and director Xavier Dolan and released on 22 October 2015, despite the fact the song was released as a single a day later. The concept of the video revolves around a recently broken-up woman calling a younger version of herself. Portions of the video—mostly the finale on the pond and the shot of her opening her eyes in the beginning—were filmed with IMAX cameras, making it the first music video in IMAX format. The video draws inspiration from Dolan's semi-autobiographical debut I Killed My Mother, which was made when Dolan was barely 20. The video was filmed on a farm in Québec over 4 days in September 2015.
The video stars American actor Tristan Wilds. According to Dolan, Adele called him after an unspecified incident of police brutality in the United States, suggesting that a Caucasian male not be cast as her love interest in the video. Dolan elaborated "She was just like, 'I’m concerned with the reality of the tensions between authorities and the black community, and I want to send a message out there.'" Dolan contacted Wilds via Skype and explained the concept for the video, which Wilds agreed to take part in. During the filming, both Adele and Wilds were asked to improvise and "tap into" their past relationships in order to convey the correct emotions. Dolan also filmed shots of both Adele and Wilds having conversations and laughing. The sepia toned video shows Adele performing the song in a small house and outside in a wooded forest, intercut with scenes of her making a tearful phone call and flashbacks to a past relationship with Wilds' character.
The flip phone used by Adele in the video was widely commented upon due to being of a retro style. Dolan replied to the remarks by saying: "It makes me uncomfortable filming iPhones because I feel like I'm shooting a commercial. Those things: iPhones, laptops, all those elements, to me, they bring me back to reality: That's not what you want. You want to get out of your own life; you want to enter someone else's; you want to travel somewhere; you want to be told a story. I'm realizing maybe I've been more distracting than anything else with that flip phone, but it wasn't intentional!"
The music video for the song broke the previous Vevo Record by achieving over 27.7 million views within a 24-hour period. Later, the video continued to break Miley Cyrus's "Wrecking Ball" Vevo record for the fastest video to reach 100 million views in 5 days. The phrase "Adele hello" was also the top YouTube search term of Friday and Saturday, and on average the video was getting one million views per hour during the first two days, peaking at 1.6 million in a single hour, beating the peak view rate of the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which peaked at 1.2 million views per hour. The video was parodied in a Thanksgiving-themed skit on Saturday Night Live.
As of March 2019, the video is the 17th most viewed video on YouTube, having earned over 2.5 billion views. The video also became the third video on YouTube to reach 10 million likes on 29 May 2016, and has over 14 million likes as of March 2019, ranking it sixth on the list of most-liked YouTube videos. The five videos to have more likes are "Gangnam Style", "See You Again", "Despacito", "Shape of You" and "Faded".
Adele performed "Hello" live for the first time for a BBC one-hour-long special, Adele at the BBC, which was recorded on 2 November 2015 and was broadcast on BBC One on 20 November 2015. She also performed the song at the 17th NRJ Music Awards on 7 November 2015, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on 17 November 2015 as her opening number (Adele Live in New York City), and on Saturday Night Live on 21 November 2015. On 23 November 2015, after appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Adele recorded the song with Fallon and his house band, The Roots, playing classroom instruments. The version was broadcast on the show the following night. On 13 December 2015 Adele performed "Hello" on the X Factor live final at The SSE Arena, Wembley.
- On 9 November 2015, British singer Rita Ora delivered her own version of the song by singing it in a self-invented language in the Capital FM studios.
- American singer Demi Lovato covered "Hello" at the 2015 106.1 KISS FM Fall Ball in Seattle on 14 November 2015. Her rendition of the song was met with high critical acclaim. It eventually received a nomination for "Best Cover Song" at the 3rd iHeartRadio Music Awards. A fan video of Lovato's cover version has since garnered over 13.5 million views on YouTube.
- In December 2015, Washington, D.C.-based go-go band Backyard Band released a cover version of the song, which has become widely popular in the area since its release.
- In December 2015, Claudio Sanchez of American progressive metal band Coheed & Cambria posted an acoustic cover on YouTube. The cover was described by critics as "haunting".
- During New Year's Eve 2015, Canadian singer Celine Dion put her own spin on "Hello" at her residency show in Las Vegas.
- On 5 January 2016, Canadian indie rock band Walk off the Earth released a video cover version of the song, featuring KRNFX and the use of Whippy Tubes and later, on 19 January 2016, the band released an alternative video cover version of the song featuring dancers Myles Erlick and Isaac Lupien from the Canadian drama show The Next Step.
- The American DJ Marshmello released a house remix on his SoundCloud on 14 April 2016.
- The American DJ Dave Daudé released a remix on his website official on 2016.
The song was mentioned in the season 6 premier episode of 2 Broke Girls. "Hello" is also referenced in the Lady Leshurr single "Queen's Speech 5" and was also sampled in Stitches' single "One Million Dimes".
Credits and personnel
- Vocals, drums – Adele
- Songwriting – Adele Adkins, Greg Kurstin
- Production, piano, bass, drums, guitar, electronic keyboard – Greg Kurstin
- Mixing – Tom Elmhirst
- Engineering – Alex Pasco, Greg Kurstin, Julian Burg, Liam Nolan
- Mastering – Randy Merrill, Tom Coyne
- Additional instruments – Emile Haynie