Adele’s “30”: An Album That Showcases the Artist and Her Story

Adele’s first album in six years is about sharing her side of the story on her divorce, maintaining positive mental health, and moving forward.


Ayshi Sen

Adele’s album takes the spotlight in the Barnes and Nobles music section.

Whether we play music from our headphones on our commute, or nod along to the music playing in the background as we shop at the supermarket, there is no denying that music is an integral part of our lives. However, one thing that is often overlooked with music is the musician’s purpose for creating the pieces. 

Adele’s album 30, the first in six years, showcases how music reflects the artist’s emotions and experiences. A mixture of jazz and soul, the album was labeled one of the most anticipated albums of 2021 by Pitchfork

When asked what made her excited for Adele’s new album, Charlotte Zhou ’24 said, “Since Adele hasn’t released an album in a long time, I think that makes this one more special. Especially since her past albums were released when she was in her early twenties, hearing how her musical and lyrical styles have changed over the years is really interesting.”

The album, released on November 19th, 2021, contains twelve songs and three extra bonus tracks, including: “Strangers By Nature,” “Easy On Me,” “My Little Love,” “Cry Your Heart Out,” “Oh My God,” “Can I Get It,” “Woman Like Me,” “Hold On,” “To Be Loved,” and “Love Is A Game.” 

The songs tell the story of Adele’s divorce from her ex-husband Simon Konecki following a three-year marriage, as well as her struggles with motherhood and mental health issues. Adele described Konecki as being a stable part of her life and saving her from going down a self-destructive path. However, she realized she was just getting by and not enjoying herself, leading to her decision of getting a divorce. 

The album’s lead single “Easy On Me”, released on October 25th, 2021, broke the record for the most-streamed song on Spotify in a day, with 24 million streams in 24 hours. In the song, Adele sings about her relationship with her family, her ex-husband, her son, and herself. 

During the chorus, the music slows down, allowing Adele’s voice to take center stage, Adele sings, “Go easy on me, baby / I was still a child / Didn’t get the chance to / Feel the world around me.” While she sings, the only instrumentation accompanying her voice is the piano, creating an intimate moment with the audience and Adele as she shares her emotions. 

After listening to the song, Kaitlyn Youn ’23 said, “It’s very unique, and I love how she enunciates words. Her voice is perfect for heartbreaking music.”

Like many of Adele’s songs, the lyrics speak to the audience on multiple levels, making it an instant hit. 

Mr. Daniel Licardo, an English teacher at Bronx Science who used to play the bass and guitar in order to record music with his friends, including a cover of Adele’s song, “I’ll Be Waiting,” said, “It’s really interesting because it’s not as pop as her previous music. She is sticking to her choices and really just doing the album that she wants to do.”   

The song also shows the theme of self-love. As we deal with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, it’s more important now than ever to not just take care of those around us, but also to take care of one’s own mental health. Adele sings about putting both her son and her husband before herself, but as she sings the chorus it shines a light on the importance of being gentle on oneself. 

The album is more than just a story of her divorce. In an interview with Vogue, Adele said the album was a way for her to explain the divorce to her nine-year-old son, Angelo Adkins.

This is evident in the third track on the album, “My Little Love.” Featuring snippets of Adele’s conversation with her son, Adele describes his confusion about the divorce and explains what was happening to the child. Drawing inspiration from artists like Tyler, The Creator, and British rapper Skepta, Adele incorporated audio recordings of her conversations with her son into the song. The voices not only give the listener an insight into her life but also blends in with the song melodically.

When asked how he thought about it from a musician’s perspective, Mr. Licardo said, “The conversation with her son was very real and sad, but it’s also musically serendipitous because it all fits in together with the theme of the song.”   

In releasing her album, Adele was also faced with challenges of how her story would be listened to by her fans. Although many Spotify users might appreciate the green shuffle button on the top of every album, many musicians feel the button can get in the way of telling their story. When deciding on a tracklist and the order of the songs, artists are faced with the struggle of deciding what order the songs should be listed to best showcase their intended message. 

Although streaming services are the most popular method of listening to music, Adele’s 30 was the first album of 2021 to sell more than a million albums. (Ayshi Sen)

For instance, in 30, the tracks “ Cry Your Heart Out” and “Oh My God” tell the story of Adele’s struggle with her mental health. In “Cry Your Heart Out” Adele juxtaposes the upbeat song with the heavy topic of depression. In the song, Adele sings about not feeling like herself, and being afraid but not being able to do anything about it. 

Adele sings, “I have nothin’ to feel no more, I can’t even cry / When will I begin to feel like me again?” accompanied by a Motown-like beat. The emotional songwriting portrayed as an upbeat song shows her struggles during that period of her life. 

Then in “Oh My God” Adele sings about taking control of her life. She sings, “I’d rather be a fool than leave myself behind / I don’t have to explain myself to you / I am a grown woman and I do what I want to do.” The song shows Adele’s journey and how she feels more comfortable and secure with herself following a depressive episode. 

Spotify gladly obliged Adele’s request and removed the shuffle button from all albums so that the songs would be listened to in sequential order, following the artist’s intent. 

30 is a riveting, emotional, and striking journey and an excellent comeback album for Adele. Fans have taken this view as well, as reflected in the 288,000 album sales in the week of its release, which ranked as the biggest album sale of 2021. The album also got 88 million streams in the first week of its release. Despite a central theme of the album being about heartbreak, Adele still manages to portray the importance of love as a prominent message of the album by focusing on her love for her son as well as for herself. This along with the instrumentation and lyrics that put her voice on display makes the album an even more memorable experience.

Sud Paul ’23 said, “Adele is the music industry; she is a legend who manages to captivate the world every time she makes a return. Every single one of her albums broke records over and over again, and I am not surprised.”

To listen to Adele’s 30 on Spotify (subscription required), click HERE.

Sud Paul ’23 said, “Adele is the music industry; she is a legend who manages to captivate the world every time she makes a return. Every single one of her albums broke records over and over again, and I am not surprised.”