Backstreet's Back: Thoughts on Adele's "Hello"

Backstreet's Back:
Thoughts on Adele's "Hello"

Like many women my age, I spent much of my freshman and sophomore year of college crying to Adele. I was all about Adele. I’m not sure why, as it’s not like I had any dramatic relationships or star-cross’d lovers by 19, but Adele songs are sort of like the horoscopes in the newspaper: you can convince yourself they apply perfectly to any situation you are in-- like they were written just for you.

So when Adele’s new single “Hello” hit the internet this week, I was more than ready for it. Give me the Adele. Let me mainline my teenage emotions. So far, 30 million people have also watched the “Hello” video, confirming that Adele is still as popular as her stature as a PG, drug-free, poppier version of Amy Winehouse allows her to be.

It is good. I cannot say it isn’t good. But it’s boring. I’m sorry, Adele. You are so talented, but you’ve done “Hello” a thousand ways before. It’s all over your first two albums, and that’s why they were good. But why make us wait for years and then deliver the same old schtick? What more can Adele do? Someone with a voice like hers must have a creative range in there somewhere. To be fair, I can diplomatically say that I place it alongside Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” in the category of songs that I don’t turn off when I hear them on the radio.

And that’s just the song. The video is probably even more boring than the song. Sepia tone is lazy. I understand the urge to hit viewers over the head with the retro torch ballad theme by making it look like an old-time movie, but come on. Can’t Adele apologize in full color? And why the wind? An English countryside version of Beyonce dramatics?

Between Adele losing reception on the set of Pride and Prejudice and Drake’s “Hotline Bling” video, the internet has been all agog-- simply agog!-- about cell phone-themed songs and videos. We’ve forgotten our roots, though. The trailblazers. We’ve forgotten the founding father of all dramatic cell phone music videos: “The Call,” by the Backstreet Boys.

I had to link to a fan video because the Backstreet VEVO account is into revisionist history and uploaded a remixed version of this song featuring a background noise that sounds like a turkey call tutorial.

Just imagine Adele yelling, “I’ll say again you’re dropping out my battery is low,” in her dramatic sepia tone windy field and your day is automatically better. Or perhaps “Hello” is an answer to “The Call?” Maybe it’s better to imagine Adele calling AJ McLean from a pasture while he gallivants around a fictional space where leather trench coats are still stylish, running after women who aren’t Adele, and just waiting for her to call back after the fateful night when his phone battery fake died.

(Honorable mention for best cell phone video moment goes to “Dilemma” by Nelly ft. Kelly Rowland, where at 3:15, Kelly sends a text message using Microsoft Excel on a Nokia flip phone. 2002-- a simpler time.)