Most Likely to Make You Contemplate Past Relationships: “Hello”
“When We Were Young” might be the more popular choice for this category, and I agree that it’s a gorgeous song. “Hello” just gets me on a visceral level. Being upset by the realization that your ex is over you isn’t the prettiest emotion, but it’s probably a more common experience than wanting to “photograph you in this light.” And who better than Adele to make ugly emotions sound pretty?
Best Kiss-Off: “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)”
It wouldn’t be an Adele album without at least one song calling out an ex-lover. Most of 25 takes a more mature stance, looking back with wistfulness or even understanding, but this song looks back with a wink. Congrats on your new relationship…because I’ve realized you suck anyway. The jaunty melody compliments the message perfectly.
Best Anthem for Exhausted Singles: “Water Under The Bridge”
It’s not the most lyrically sophisticated song on the album, but the sentiment strikes a chord. In a similar vein to La Roux’s “Let Me Down Gently,” Adele asks her lover to be kind when he leaves her because “our love ain’t water under the bridge.” The beautifully layered chorus is perfect for belting along in the car (while conveniently not being able to hear yourself).
Best Song for Moody Self-Reflection: “River Lea”
As a songwriter Adele has a similar gift to Taylor Swift, in the sense that she can write specific, personal lyrics that somehow also feel personal to her listeners. Underneath the specificity is a song about recognizing how our past is an inescapable part of who we are, for better or worse. It’s also one of the most musically invigorating songs on the album.
Most Likely to Make You Cry: “Million Years Ago”
I haven’t actually cried while listening to this song, but it’s the most likely culprit. Adele singing in her lower register is spine-tinglingly beautiful, and the simple arrangement keeps the focus on her vocals. The lyrics are particularly appropriate for someone in her late 20s coming to grips with the next phase of life. I guess it’s handy that Adele and I are the same age.
It’s almost impossible to pick favorite songs on this album, but these are a few highlights. I know I’ll have 25 on heavy rotation for the foreseeable future.