Friday, October 23, 2015, 12:45 PM
When Adele debuted in 2008 with 19, it was clear an assured, talented new voice had entered the pop arena. When she followed with 21, we collectively realized a new superstar was born. Four years and one Oscar-winning song later, Adele’s third album, 25, is upon us.
With the release of lead single “Hello,” we’re ranking her 11 singles to date in order of worst (which isn’t that bad, tbh) to best (which is very good indeed).
Here’s our ranking. Let us know yours below.
11. “Cold Shoulder”
The rare Adele song to reflect even a hint of hip-hop (check out that funky drum beat), “Cold Shoulder” has a nice guitar riff and a lot of personality, but it ultimately doesn’t gel with Adele’s voice. It’s not bad by a long shot — but compared to Adele in her comfort zone, it’s probably the least of her impressive run of singles.
10. “Hometown Glory”
Her debut single, it received a Grammy nod for best female pop vocal performance — and it was fans’ first encounter with her truly incredible, distinct voice. She went on to catchier tunes, but the honest lyrics about her hometown and growing up gave fans an early indication of the kind of emotional and lyrical honesty they could expect from her music.
9. “Make You Feel My Love”
Heavily indebted to ’70s piano balladry along the lines of Carole King and Elton John, “Make You Feel My Love” is an Adele song that sounds less like her and more like a tribute. Nevertheless, as far as singer-songwriter throwbacks go, this is grade-A craftsmanship.
BILLBOARD: ADELE’S COMEBACK SONG “HELLO” HAS ARRIVED
Anyone fearing that maternal bliss and recent talk of a “make-up record” meant Adele had lost her knack for lovelorn balladry can stop worrying: The first single from Adele’s 25 is another heart-wrenching, piano-heavy meditation on the passage of time and what it feels like to break another’s heart. Welcome back, Adele.
She won an Oscar for this tune, the theme of 2012’s James Bond film of the same name. Despite the prestige, the tune — while lovely — isn’t quite as memorable as some of her others. Still, she hits it out of the park.
6. “Set Fire to the Rain”
The slow-burning third single off 21 gave Adele her third Billboard Hot 100 No. 1, but it wasn’t quite as popular worldwide as the No. 1 tunes that preceded it. A live version of the song won Adele a Grammy for best pop solo performance.
5. “Turning Tables”
Unlike the punch-in-the-nose “Rolling In the Deep,” “Turning Tables” is a more thoughtfully composed goodbye song. Over a delicate piano riff and cinematic orchestration, Adele sings of her hard-fought battle to leave a controlling, capricious lover.
4. “Chasing Pavements”
Adele’s first masterpiece, “Chasing Pavements” was the second single from debut album 19 and her first (and until 21, only) top 40 Hot 100 hit in America. At this point in her life, Adele is already feeling the sting of disappointment but is searching for more — and demonstrating a songwriting flair and vocal maturity far beyond her years.
3. “Rumour Has It”
No rumors here: One of Adele’s most upbeat tracks is also one of her best. With a great bassline and a sing-along hook, it’s the perfect showcase for her sultry vocals — as well as your own hairbrush singing.
2. “Someone Like You”
It’s become shorthand to say that Adele’s music makes you cry because of all the feelings, and nowhere is the emotion she’s able to evoke more clear than on this gorgeous tune, the rare ballad that went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 2011.
1. “Rolling in the Deep”
Adele’s first Hot 100 chart-topper is also her finest single to date. A stomping kiss-off number indebted to ’60s soul-pop but delivered with the visceral immediacy of a hastily-written goodbye note, “Rolling In the Deep” topped the chart for seven weeks. Breaking up has never sounded so satisfying.