Meaning and Analysis of Someone Like You by Adele

Perspectives change over time, as distance and logic replace feelings and emotions about specific situations. In the song "Someone Like You" by Adele, the speaker attempts to reassure herself that long after the break-up between her and her lover, she will go on and find someone who will replace him in her heart. However, in light of the lyrics of the song, there are two major questions that remain.

– Why would she want someone like him, who did not want nor value her ? and
– Why is she even seeking him out for conversation ?

The songwriter Adele, born Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, hails from London, England, where she began her life-long love affair with music at the age of three. Attending the BRIT school, which is a free school for the performing arts, she was able to pursue her love of music. For all intents and purposes, Adele came from a single parent home, as her mother and biological father never married. Abandoning the family when Adele was four years old, she had obstacles to overcome in her personal life that would prove to make her either a victim or a survivor. Gauging from her enormous personal success, it is obvious which path Adele chose. Her first album, 19, was named for her age at the time. Since that time, she has enjoyed numerous awards, accolades, and achievements in the world of music. Her humble beginnings would only serve to make her more of the self-sufficient and gifted artist that audiences worldwide have come to adore.

Adele’s song, "Someone Like You" is very interesting from both a musical perspective and a lyrical/poetic one. In analyzing the lyrics, what might seem at first to be a beautiful love song about lost love becomes a disturbing glimpse into the heart and soul of a person who will not let go of a former lover and potentially could effect her lover and his new life as well. Arranged into basically nine stanzas, Adele speaks from a first person point of view. She, the speaker, has stalked her former lover and found him alone. Did she go to his place of business? Did she find him at a local hangout? Has she been following him and knew exactly where he would be at that precise moment in time? One thing is likely: she could have deliberately searched him in order to try to get him to change his mind about her and the breakup. Is essence, she has stalked him. In two repetitive stanzas she states:

I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited
But I couldn’t stay away, I couldn’t fight it.
I’d hoped you’d see my face and that you’d be reminded
That for me, it isn’t over.

This speaker is begging her former lover to take her back and leave his wife. She is hoping that seeing her again will remind him of the love and relationship they once had and that he will change his mind. The speaker is not ignorant of the fact that he has moved on with his life. She simply does not care. She states in the exposition of the first stanza ,

"I heard that you’re settled down
That you found a girl and you’re married now…"

This speaker is well aware that she is asking her lover to leave his wife, possibly his children, and come back to her. However, the sad and somewhat unhappy portion to this song is in the analysis. Why would the speaker want the person who rejected her back ? Why is she begging him to look at her and "be reminded". The speaker is probably dealing with psychological issues of co-dependence and low self-esteem. In five repeating stanzas, she completely turns on him and basically states that she does not care if he takes her back or not. However, her obsessive behavior tells an opposite story. She states,

Never mind, I’ll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you, too.
Don’t forget me, I beg
I remember you said,
"Sometimes it lasts in love but sometime it hurts instead."

She is quoting his words back to him. Even though she says, "Never mind" what her behavior reveals is that she is not willing to let go, nor does she believe she will ever find someone like him. Unfortunately, she fails to realize that in the big picture, that might be a good thing.

Usually, when people separate, they agree to go separate ways and begin to lead separate lives. However, when one partner cannot let go and obsesses about the other, it would appear that they write songs about stalking their former lover and begging him to come back. The speaker in this song may be far from mentally healthy. She comes off to the listener, and likely to the former lover, as a needy, stalker who is threatening the very fabric of what marriages are made, namely: trust. Should the lover in that moment agree to take her back, she never considers that she would worry the rest of her life if he was being faithful to her. If her lover would leave his wife and possibly his children for her, what would make the speaker think that she is different? Unfortunately, for many people, the need and desire to have what is familiar close to them supersedes their logic and better judgment about the reality of what would happen in the aftermath.

Musically, this piece is written as a love song, as a lament for love that is lost. As with many songs of this nature, minor keys are often utilized in order to create a melancholy mood. Adele has perfected this art. As the same stanzas are repeated, so are the same minor notes. The repetition creates the feeling of not being able to let go, which is exactly what the speaker is feeling. The piece, played moderately increases in volume and tone, just as an hysterical woman who is begging her lover back would attempt to begin a conversation moderately, and then her voice would rise as her emotions and feeling do. Adele has taken a very familiar conversation, one that has been spoken by women all over the world (very likely since time immemorial) and has given it a musical voice. In the dying tones, one can hear the hope for a reunion falling and fading with the speaker’s voice. In short, Adele’s interpretation of this sad moment has been immortalized in note form.

One has to wonder if there is something larger to be gleaned from this song. Is it simply a lament, or is it a warning to people in this position? As stated, what might appear to be a love song full of longing really becomes a bird’s eye view into the heart and soul of someone who is stuck in the past. The speaker constantly makes reference to such words as "yesterday," "time," "glory days," and "summer haze". With these images she invokes pictures of the past and tries to capture moments that are long since gone. If we look at this song thematically, it is logical that Adele, in trying to capture a moment in time that many people are familiar with, is really issuing a warning to those people. By creating a pathetic image of a woman who is begging her lover back, perhaps what Adele is really trying to show her audience is this: One only looks back to the past in order to bring a lesson forward. It is quite plausible that within this song, there is really a very good lesson hidden in the lyrics and music. By revealing to her listeners just exactly how wretched this scenario looks to those on the outside, perhaps she is issuing a warning to those who might enter into such a foolish action.

Regardless of her original intention, many lessons may be gleaned from this song. The beauty of lyrics, just like poetry, is that every person makes meaning for his or herself based on prior knowledge and experiences. Adele allows her listeners and readers to do exactly that. They are free to interpret the meaning and importance of this song by creating authentic text to self connections. In the end, the connections that listeners make will almost always be based on personal experiences. With every song or poem, personal interpretation is, in the end, what makes it successful in the heart and soul of the reader.