Adele made millions of people happy this week with just one Instagram post. On Thursday, after four long years, Adele confirmed her new album 25 will be released on Nov. 20, wasting no time before dropping the new single "Hello" just one day after the announcement. She also let fans know in a lengthy letter that it will not be a break-up album. Instead, Adele said that 25 will be a "make-up" album. But what exactly does that mean? She gave a few more details in the letter, posted to her Twitter on Oct. 21.
"I'm making up with myself. Making up for lost time. Making up with everything I ever did and never did," she wrote in regards to her long-awaited follow-up to 2011's 21. "But, I haven't got time to hold on to the crumbs of my past like I used to. What's done is done."
Adele goes on to say that "turning 25 was a turning point for me." Smack dab in the middle of her twenties, she realized that she didn't want to live in the past, and needed to embrace the future. "Teetering on the edge of being an old adolescent and a fully-fledged adult," the now 27-year-old wrote, "I made the decision to go into becoming who I'm going to be forever without a removal van full of my old junk." You can read the full letter below.
A lot of that "junk" is what made Adele the first artist in a decade to sell 11 million records in under two years. Her album 21 closely examined the end of her first real relationship and all the feelings that went with it: sadness, anger, reflection, and forgiveness. It's what made everyone you know buy a copy of 21 for their friend, their mom, their aunt and their grandma. That "junk" was incredibly relatable. It was Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' five stages of grief in musical form. Everyone had felt that kind of pain and loss in their lifetime, but only Adele could set those feelings to music and have us crying our eyes out for two whole years while the record owned the top of the Billboard 200 album chart.
The album was such a cultural phenomenon that it inspired Saturday Night Live to do a whole skit about the effect the you-got-to-go-but-I-want-you-to-stay ballad "Someone Like You" had on the tear ducts. And the sketch starring Emma Stone would have been even funnier if it weren't so damn true.
Still, no one can blame Adele for wanting to leave that baggage behind. To finally live life in the moment instead of having to revisit the pain of her past over and over again like Bill Murray in Groundhog's Day. Adele today is a much different person than the 19-year-old or 21-year-old Adele who was just trying to cope with a bad breakup. She's now a mother, a partner, and an artist who wants to leave her past relationship behind. She wants to start anew and with this new record, she can mature both emotionally and musically without feeling like she's betraying her fans. See, the thing about Adele is, though she's one of the best-selling artists of this decade, the world knows so little about her other than the fact that she has an amazing voice for singing heartbreak anthems.
With this "make-up" album, the English singer is reintroducing herself to the world, and probably to herself, as she noted on Twitter: "25 is about getting to know who I've become without realising." Even Adele's new song "Hello," which has her trying to touch base with someone from her past — maybe a lover, maybe her estranged father — could be heard as a conversation with herself. "It's me, I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet. To go over, everything," she softly sings on the ballad.
Even though she's not heartbroken that doesn't mean she's perfectly happy. She does sing on her latest song, "They say time's supposed to heal ya, but I ain't done much healing." And from the looks of the alleged 25 tracklist, which includes titles like "I Miss You," "Water Under The Bridge," and "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)," it won't be all rainbows and unicorns, but it will be real. She's still treating her music like a confessional, addressing her past in the present in the most honest way she knows how. On "Hello," she's trying to get in touch with someone she once felt close to, but who now won't even pick up the phone. She's older, wiser, and has had time to come to terms with it all. 25 will show what it's like growing up Adele. She can talk about finding love. She can talk about being a mom. She can get out her frustrations and maybe find a little peace.
Of course, growing up isn't nearly as exciting as breaking up; there's just so much more monotony. But there's also something exciting about the idea of Adele releasing an album that focuses on what it's like to come of age at the same time you're becoming the world's biggest superstar. Like the Richard Linklater film Boyhood in musical form, she can get at what it's like to become a woman when you still feel like a child. Like Carole King's Tapestry for millennials, she can give power to a female voice that expresses what it's really like to be a woman — mentally, physically, and emotionally. Simply living her life is the only experience Adele needed to have in order to create an album like this, making her apology for taking so long to release this album — "And I'm sorry it took so long, but you know, life happened" — seem almost silly. It almost feels like we should apologize for hounding her while she was just trying to work.
Like Adele, her fans have grown up in these past four years. There isn't much music for the part of your life when you transition into adulthood, but Adele is offering a grown-up alternative to what pop radio is right now. While other pop stars may be interested in providing escapism, she would rather give fans a dose of reality. From the description of her "make-up" album, Adele sounds like she's interested in getting contemplative, to take stock in what life actually means.
But Adele's "make-up" album should be, in its truest sense, an empowerment record that looks to find strength in who you are right now, no matter who you used to be.