Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Poor Me," some thoughts on Adele's “Someone like you” by Susanne Toito

We'e all been through it: heartbreak. The stuff of all the best love songs and love stories. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, they live blissfully for an undetermined length of time that of course seems to stand still, then one leaves for some tragic reason and the other is left to wallow in self-pity until the next adventure begins.

Why do we fall for these depressing, soppy songs and stories? They are like the tissues we use up, crying over our lost loves: soggy, disgusting and useless. But deep down we relate to them.

We have all wallowed in the same feelings of self-pity. And what’s even more attractive is what these songs create – something we all would have loved to have gotten in those moments of self-pity: the pity of others. People to hear our story and think: “Poor you…” with a tear in their eye.

This, is what Adele’s "Someone like you" attempts. The song starts out innocently enough, with her nostalgic memories of the lovers’ time of their lives, their glory days that nothing could possibly compare to.

Ah yes, this is the stuff of our own memories of first love. But then, the lovers are torn apart, for reasons Adele conveniently perhaps omits. He finds someone else, settles down, and "is married now."

What does this woman do? Move on like any level-headed, self-respecting woman? No, she comes back into his life (she’s ba-aack), as if that is not bad, she even admits to coming back uninvited. If this is not the makings of a full-fledged stalker, I don’t know what is.

Adele repeated reminds us how he begged her not to forget him, but do you really think he was asking for a home wrecker? We all say things we don’t mean in relationships - cut this guy some slack, Adele.

Oayk, you would think we can still find some empathy for her. She is looking for closure – "for me, it isn’t over" – she's a woman, deeply hurt. But let’s look at his point of view: this guy went on with his life, found someone else, and got married. Heck, even Adele says "his dreams came true" and that perhaps this other woman "gave him things" she didn’t give him (like a sane, decent reciprocated love relationship, maybe?).

Why on earth would she want him back? What was she expecting? That he see her face, "be reminded" of his love for her and by some magic drop his dream come true to live with this self-pitying Jekyll and Hyde?

Yes, Jekyll and Hyde, because she takes us through her bittersweet memories, makes us feel her pain, then reveals that she is stalking him – yet she still wishes him the best. I cannot help but hear the threatening tone when she wails out “Never mind, I’ll find someone like you.”

Which brings me to the question: does she mean she will actually go on with life and find someone like he has done (and any sane person would do), or as the freakish nature of the song suggests, will she find someone just like him and do it all over again?

You can watch Adele perform “Someone Like You” on YouTube here.

Susanne Toito lives and works in Oakville, Ontario. Her love affair with the language and written word began as she bloomed into adolescence, in Mr.Clancy’s grade seven classroom. She enjoys writing poetry and short fiction, and has plans to complete a novel in the near future.

See Brian Henry's schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Kingston, Peterborough, Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Dundas, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, OrangevilleGravenhurst, Sudbury, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.


  1. Throughout the whole article all I could think was "chill out it's just a song." As a musician, I would know, that songs are written to express one's emotion and for others to have something to relate to. The lyrics to this song say, "I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited," but this does not mean she is stalking him. I think we all talk to someone we have past relationships with at some point, simple human interaction is not stalking. And perhaps she isn't even talking to him, but just expressing that she wishes not to be forgotten and singing about it. It's a beautiful song, sung by a talented woman.

  2. I agree with Cassandra, throughout the whole article all I could think was "Why all this anger against a beautiful song?" I am affraid that the meaning was misunderstood. The song was about expressing a feeling, that's all. Gabriel Garcia Marquez said:
    There is always a "tomorrow" and life gives us chances to make it right; but if I'm not mistaken and today is the only day left for us, I would like to say that I love you and I'll never forget you.

  3. Adele is indeed very talented. I do believe however that the writer is expressing how the message of a song is important, and a good message stems from wholesome morals and integrity. In this case Adeles feelings are wrong. Sure we all feel certain things at times but that does not make them right or give us an excuse to justify them. We need to be grownups and do the right thing regardless of how we '"feel" feelings come and go and often are irrational. We can't lead our lives by our feelings. In this case Adele admits she knows he's married now, and no buts should follow. No matter how much it hurts, sheyou certainly SHOULD stay away and not interfere with a union as sacred as marriage. Who cares why he got married or if he may still love her, if he is married then he is off limits, out of respect for his wife to say the least. I'll bet she didn't think about how her actions might affect another woman inlove like she once was...why? Because her feelings got in the way. She was only thinking about catering to her own feelings, not how it might hurt someone else. Just some things to think about... :)

  4. This song is awful. The main riff is repeated all over again. OK. The riff is nice, but when you hear it all the time in all radios over there it makes me puke... sorry, but that's my opinion. Quite short song, 4 minutes, but the same riff and words repeated. It's just not acceptable. Quite nice song completely destroyed because of infinite repetition.

  5. Oh god, kt89 some of the most beautiful poetry and songs ever written were not written on some god forsaken "moral" high ground. Art is not like that nor should it be.

    This over examination of a pop song isn't warranted at all in the first place. It's five minutes I'll never get back.

  6. No, it is not an over examination, this is an excellent article. There are plenty of psycho stalker ex-girl friends out there and this song pretty much fits their thought pattern to a tee. Experience that once then get back to me...

  7. I agree with this blogger. This past weekend I was at a wedding reception and "Someone Like You" came up on the DJ playlist. All I could think was "What a terrible song to play at a wedding!" My boyfriend (who was with me when the song came on) agreed that the song is particularly inappropriate for a wedding.

    I think the lyrical premise of the song is selfish, self-pitying, bitter and lacks self-awareness. Good art isn't just emotionally spewing out whatever hurt and angry thoughts happen to cross your mind. Good art reveals truth and emotion. This song is just plain emotion. It's a memorable melody and I like the beautiful minimalism of the piano in an over-produced, overly-compressed, over-sampled musical age we live in. I just think the lyrics themselves come across more spiteful than beautiful.

  8. Agree wholeheartedly with Susanne's interpretation - and even found the song worse, if I imagine this text as a real situation... Just imagine the face of the GUY at the door at the visit of this ex-lover, who hasn't found closure (as he has long ago) - and seems to want some from HIM now...

    To the now married Ex this visit will be unwelcome at best, and seem drastic, dangerous, utterly egotistic, thoughtless - as well as useless and ridiculous.
    And very embarrassing (even for me as a mere listener): The singer wallows in her own memories of their long-ago-affair - which might not have meant half as much to him, we don't know - and is thereby also debasing herself in no small way...

    I'm not d'accord with kt89 and her point about "interference of a union as sacred as marriage" though; but I do think a more realistic song-ending would've been a short-stop in the middle of a word, resembling the Ex's slamming of the door into her face...

  9. I found this article because I recently heard this song for the first time and I don't think a song has ever made me feel so depressed. I couldn't decide if it was the completely screwed up sentiments of the song or the fact that someone was willing to share them that depressed me more. Adding to that that... people actually like this song. This song is bad, Bad, BAD. "I hope that you'll see for me it isn't over"???? Why????? A musician friend of mine covered this song and I felt kind of angry at him for exposing me to it. I see nothing beautiful about this song. It's creepy and disturbing. Crush by Garbage is a good song because at least that song knows it's creepy. Thank you for this article. Seriously.


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