Arachnophonia: Adele “21”

Editor’s note: Arachnophonia is a regular feature on our blog where members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia is by Music Library student worker, Diego (class of 2021) and features English singer-songwriter Adele’s 2011 studio album 21. Thanks, Diego!



Valentine’s Day was this month, and with that there are usually two types of people, those who have reason to celebrate the holiday, and those who celebrate the day afterwards, when all the candy is marked 50 percent off at the store. That being said, I think we can all agree on the fact that there is music that can be listened to in order to enjoy the holiday to its finest. It is hard to call out a certain artist for making love songs, as there are a lot, a lot, A LOT of love songs that have been made throughout history, just like there are a lot for us lonely people as well. However, without any regret, we can take a look at Adele for the sake of love/breakup songs. Specifically, we can look at 21, one of her most famous albums to date.

Released in 2011, 21 was a way for Adele to tell her story about an unsuccessful relationship that she experienced. Having released 19 just two years prior, Adele had already begun to build a very devoted fan base that rushed to pre-order and buy her album. Little did anyone know that this would be one of the best sold albums in history. The album itself was widely praised both by professional critics and the general population. It peaked at number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and had singles that remained on the US album charts for 24 weeks. 21 ended up becoming the bestselling album of both 2011 and 2012.

Adele 21

Moving on to the songs on the album, as you listen to some of the songs, you notice that she seems to go through all of the themes everyone attributes to after a breakup, from anger to loneliness, regrets, and finally the acceptance of what has happened. For example, the song “Rumor Has It” is in response to all the rumors that surrounded the breakup of Adele and her partner at the time. “Rolling in the Deep” was written to insult Adele’s ex-lover for making negative remarks about her after the break-up. As a whole, her entire album tells different aspects of Adele’s relationship, and its subsequent failure. While it does give off a solemn vibe, the album as a whole makes it sound like the opening of a new door in Adele’s life, and after taking the hard road of coping with the breakup, and the fallout from it, she is ready to move on to someone new. The song “Someone Like You” is one of the last songs in the album, a song which Adele describes as one that made her feel free and liberated.

I had to write it to feel OK with myself and OK with the two years I spent with him. And when I did it, I felt so freed.

And that’s what this album is about! It is about being able to make it past a breakup and coming out stronger because of it, it is about learning to forgive those who have hurt you, and it is about cherishing what you have before it’s gone. Adele’s 21 isn’t just for those who have gone through a bitter breakup, or those who miss what they once had, but instead it’s a reminder that there is a such thing as happiness out there, and maybe you already have it, or maybe it’s out there looking for you.

Adele - Rolling in the Deep music video still