I remember back in 2008 when I first saw her lead single Rolling in the Deep from her second album 21, which was the first we heard of her in Australia. I didn’t know at the time that she had had some success back in the UK with all four singles from her debut album charting in the Top 20. Two of them also reached the Top 10 with both of those songs reaching the top of the charts in two other European countries. As I sat and watched her film clip falling in love with the song the first time I was hearing it I couldn’t help but think “I hope that she gets judged on her merits as a great singer rather than people looking at her and judging her on her weight.”
I’m not the first to point out that Adele doesn’t meet the supposed ideals of whomever it is that supposedly has these ideals, but as she made her way to become an international star and she was gracing the front covers of magazines, being talked about on television and all over the Internet, her weight was a talking point. The thing is though, to me, when I look at Adele I see a very sexy young lady whose sex appeal is displayed by her talent as a performer, her humour in her interviews and on talk show appearances, her confidence and, if I’m going to allow one superficial thing, her hair. I love her hair.
But this is not about me and why I love her, although there are a few things that I wanted to point out about Adele before I get into this post. I think she’s great. I really do. But I think her latest single promotes a form of domestic abuse, and it’s something that we need to talk about.
When Adele released her new song Hello back in October I sat at my piano and worked out how to play it. As a novice piano player it was great to hear such a simple song with a basic chord progression be so popular. Of course it’s her melody and that voice that took such a basic chord progression and turned it into a number one hit in 31 countries, topping over 40 different charts within those nations. And there are plenty more countries where the song might not have made it to the number one spot, but the song as reached the top ten.
Lyrically, the song probably resonates with many as it’s a song that has been described as being about nostalgia and regrets. Songs about lost love are often the most popular songs by and artist, especially a lot of the hard rock bands that I listen to where their songs about nostalgia and regrets tend to be in the form of a power ballad that is favourable to the ears of so many more music lovers because they are not as rocky or heavy as the rest of the band’s catalogue of work.
Songs such as Every Rose Has Its Thorn and I Won’t Forget You, both by Poison, I Remember You by Skid Row, November Rain by Guns n’ Roses are all popular songs about past love, and seeing many people can relate, no wonder songs like these resonate with the masses. Hello isn’t the first and won’t be the last song about this topic, and the way Adele loves to sing about the topic of past loves, it isn’t her first and won’t be her last song about it either. In fact, the aforementioned Rolling in the Deep is a song is about that very thing;
“We could have had it all, rolling in the deep. You had my heart inside of your hand and you played it to the beat.”
I’m a song writer myself. I have written many songs since I was 13 years old and some have been written as open letters to former girlfriends using both real life experiences and fictitious stories lines and ideas. Although it has been documented plenty of times that many, if not all of Taylor Swift’s love songs, songs about unrequited love, and song about past loves whether they are positive or negative experiences, Miss Swift, as a talented song writer would have written many lines about some idealistic situation rather than reality. And I’m sure that Dianne Warren, Max Martin, Desmond Child, Kara Dioguardi along with many other pre-eminent songwriters with their collective bodies of hits songs behind them have based many of their songs about nostalgia and regret on works of fiction as well as drawing from personal experiences.
At this point you’re probably still confused as to why I am suggesting that Hello is promoting a form of domestic abuse. It was only a few days ago that Australia held the nationally recognised White Ribbon Day. I’ll let White Ribbon Australia explain the details behind that. This is from their website;
White Ribbon Australia observes the International Day of the Elimination of Violence against Women, also known as White Ribbon Day, annually on November 25. White Ribbon Day signals the start of the 16 Days of Activism to Stop Violence against Women, which ends on Human Rights Day (December 10).
One that day, many radio stations and television networks discussed the meaning of the day and were joined by many other media outlets including the online press and bloggers. I heard and read stories from women who had experienced domestic violence. Domestic violence can happen on many levels and can be defined many ways. Some of the women spoke about physical violence against them and others spoke of years of mental abuse and torment. One story I heard was by a woman who talked about her experience which happened after her relationship ended. Her domestic violence situation occurred when her ex-partner kept calling her and sending text messages. He wanted to talk to her well after the relationship had ended.
There have been countless stories published over the last decade or so about this very thing. Stories about ex-boyfriends and ex-husbands hounding the women they were once in a relationship with have been published on websites such as The Huffington Post, Mamamia, Daily Life, and other online media outlets. Many of these websites have a comments section below or the stories are shared on the website’s Facebook page and readers have shared their own experiences in these public forums.
A common comment that keeps popping up on all of these is when the relationship is over, It. Is. Over. And once it IS over you need to move on and stop calling and texting your ex because, men, if you keep doing that, you are a jerk. No wait, a creep. Or an arse (that’s ass for those lost in translation). Actually, dude, if you keep trying to contact your ex, you are pretty much all three, and then some…
Now, this is not about gender. Well, that last bit was, but as I’m sure smart people will know, you can pretty much claim with plenty of certainty that it happens both ways. There would be thousands of guys who call off relationships only to be hounded by their ex and bombarded with calls and text messages. If children are involved and you’re simply trying to talk to your ex about their future relationship with their child/ren then that’s okay. And I expect that there are plenty of other good reasons why you might try to contact an ex such as dividing up the finances, passing on the news that a family member of your that they got on with so well has passed, etc. but if you simply want to just know why, how, who, what, where and when, or if you are trying to get back together, just stop it.
As I wrote above, many songs about past love are written as open letters to the ex-partner. The songs are necessarily written with the intent that it would be sung (or spoken) to the former lover, nor that they are going to hear the song. So you might think, what’s the point of writing the song? It can simply be a release, just like writing a passage in a diary or a poem by a teenager that they ironically hope that no one ever reads.
And then there are those songs about past love that are written and directed at the ex-partner when they suddenly pop up uninvited in your life. Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 hit I Will Survive is a good example of that. That song is written as an off-the-cuff smack-down to the former lover telling them to go away and stay away because, well, as Ms Gaynor sang, “you’re not welcome any more…”
But Adele’s song is quite different. This song, and the accompanying film clip are clearly about a person trying to get in touch with a former lover well after the relationship has ended.
“Hello, it’s me
I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet
To go over everything”
“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”
One could easily suggest that the “thousand times” is merely hyperbole, but when you hear those stories about both current and former partners trying to call constantly to get in touch, sometimes racking up 180 missed calls in an hour (yes, that is an actual figure stated by one victim of domestic abuse), that makes that less hyperbole and more based in reality.
One could argue that Adele isn’t in the wrong because she’s trying to contact her former lover to tell him that she’s sorry for everything that she’s done, but really, that in itself is a technique that abusers use to try to trap their victim by manipulating the situation. You know that in one breath it’s the apology offered and then in the next breath the idea that “maybe we should get back together” is on the cards.
While I still love the song and feel that it’s deserved of the accolades for how powerful yet how simple the song is, we really need to stop and think about the actions of the protagonist in this story and how she should stop trying to contact her former partner. If you have tried to contact an ex and haven’t gotten that return call after a few attempts, give it a rest. Stop calling. Stop texting. Stop emailing them. Don’t hound them via social media. Don’t go knocking on their door. And Do. Not. Stalk. Them.
Just leave it. It’s over.