Adele very easily could have the best singing voice of the current generation of artists out there, and she’s also one of the greatest songwriters ever. Leaning on personal experiences, she can tear your heart out with a soft piano ballad or help you hit the dance floor with an upbeat pop tune. In this article, we’ll look at 35 of her best tracks.
1. Easy on Me
After the success of 25, Adele took a nearly six-year break before putting out another song, and man was it worth it. Easy On Me was released in 2021, a sprawling piano ballad describing the despair, hopelessness, and loss she went through during her divorce. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s also deeply emotional due to the way she finally found some peace.
Next: Songs about divorce
2. Rolling in the Deep
Rolling In The Deep might be Adele’s best-known song, being covered, remixed, and referenced in music ever since it was originally released. The single is an absolute masterclass in her vocal superiority, vaulting her to number one on the charts and spending 65 weeks in total on the Hot 100.
3. Chasing Pavements
Chasing Pavements was the second single to come from Adele’s debut album 19 and set the tone for the entire release. It became her first single to end up on mainstream charts, peaking at number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earning her three Grammy Award nominations in the process.
4. Someone Like You
Someone Like You took a total of two days to complete but rocketed to number one on the charts all the same. It’s a simple and direct song confronting how she felt about a guy who had broken up with her, with writer Dan Wilson assisting in finalizing the lyrics.
5. Best for Last
One of the first tracks released from 19 and the second track on the album, Best For Last is a barebones acoustic track that sheds some light on her previous relationship. In the song, it’s clear she has some mixed feelings to sort through as she deals with the confusion and frustration that is arising from the situation.
6. When We Were Young
A glorious entry to her 25 album, When We Were Young discusses the feeling of getting older and the nostalgia that surrounds memories of your younger years when everything is simple and you don’t have as much responsibility. The music video is set around a live performance, like Set Fire To The Rain, but this one was at The Church Studios in North London.
If any Adele song has ever been memed, it’s this one, which is a shame because it’s incredibly beautiful. Inspired by the natural self-reflection that takes place in your mid-20s, the track describes coming to terms with herself, motherhood, and how real getting older finally felt.
8. Cry Your Heart Out
Full of cute vocal ad-libs and disguised as any sort of happy pop track, Cry Your Heart Out is a thinly veiled take on depression. The song is describing Adele’s emotions after her divorce and how down she was, but it also highlights the reality that crying and pouring your soul out is one of the best ways to wade through those emotions and eventually heal.
9. Send My Love (To Your New Lover)
This song really exemplified the power of the producers behind Adele’s 25 album. It’s more of a straightforward pop track than her earlier ballads—though those are not gone. It’s got more attitude, more bite, and more sass, exactly what you’d expect from a pop song.
10. Make You Feel My Love
This might be a Bob Dylan cover, but a cover has never sounded so different than an original. He isn’t a bad singer by any means, but the overpowering voice of Adele absolutely washes away even his best performances of the song. While others have covered it, including big names like Garth Brooks and Billy Joel, Make You Feel My Love has become a signature track for this English singer and songwriter, and it’s hard to imagine someone else picking it up again.
Next: The best Bob Dylan songs
11. Rumour Has It
As Adele found international fame, there were bound to be false tabloid rumors flying about. She decided to navigate by penning Rumour Has It, describing the rumor of her breakup with her current boyfriend while explaining not everything you read is true.
12. Cold Shoulder
Cold Shoulder was Adele’s first stab at a song that was in a post-relationship state. It discusses an ex that cheated on her and is already dating someone new, giving her the cold shoulder as it were.
Skyfall is yet another example of Adele finishing a song in a ridiculously short amount of time. Again, 10 minutes was all it took her to nail the theme to the 2012 007 film of the same name, which would go on to win an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2012.
14. Set Fire to the Rain
Set Fire To The Rain was another song to come off of Adele’s 21 album and blow the world away. The live version of the track, recorded in London, was released in place of a music video and won her a Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance due to her insane voice. While it’s not uncommon to get goosebumps on your arms listening to an Adele song, this one probably makes more people get them than any of her other ones.
15. Hometown Glory
Hometown Glory is really a testament to how great a songwriter Adele has always been. It was the first song she ever wrote, penning it at the age of 16. Inspired by her mother urging her to leave her hometown, she took only 10 minutes to fully write the track, which would become her first-ever single, one that would get a Grammy nod for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance that year.
16. My Same
Unsurprisingly, this song is yet another from 19 to make this list. While it was intended for a demo in a recording class, she later submitted it to the recording studio that signed her, and boom, the track made it onto her debut album. The guitar version is the one that made it onto the album, but a jazz version still exists from the demo that is equally as stunning and wonderful.
17. I’ll Be Waiting
I’ll Be Waiting is, quite simply, badass. Adele steps outside the normal confines of her pretty love ballads and plays the scorned lover, waiting and knowing her partner will return. Much more of a rocker than a soft song, this track shows just how versatile a performer she can truly be. Being the “bad guy” is a good look for her and a big shift from her normal role in her music.
18. I Drink Wine
I Drink Wine is one of the most genuine and heartfelt songs out there. It goes through channels of Adele dealing with the sadness of being alone for the first time in a long time, something anyone who’s had a long-term relationship end can relate to. The title might seem on the nose, but it’s far more than that and features yet another vocal performance that will leave you wanting more.
19. One and Only
One And Only is probably the best gospel-style song Adele has put out. Featuring intimidating organs and vocals that would fit in a church service, this is one of the most underrated tracks to come from her illustrious 21 album.
20. Water Under the Bridge
Water Under The Bridge isn’t about a relationship ending, it’s actually about finding one that just seems right despite it getting serious very quickly. For her, the song was waiting on the man to be awful but thinking he probably won’t be; basically, a trauma response from previous relationships fleshed out in a wonderful track.
21. Can I Get It
Can I Get It might be one of the very few pop tracks out there that eschews a casual sexual relationship and is asking for something much more serious since those kinds of flings usually do more harm than good.
Remedy was written by Adele for her son Angelo, and it ended up with her pouring out loving energy to all of the song’s listeners. She credits it as the track that gave her back her confidence in writing, which is especially great since it helped her get through the writer’s block she dealt with leading up to her 25 album.
23. Oh My God
Oh My God shines a new light on Adele. Where the world sees her as a powerful voice that belts out some of the most heart-wrenching songs in the prettiest way imaginable, this one shows her fun, flirty, and party side.
24. Love in the Dark
Never is it more apparent than in Love In The Dark that Adele’s voice transports listeners to a world of her making. Its utter simplicity isn’t noticeable because of the depth of her vocal prowess and her masterful command of the song. Heartbreaking? Absolutely. But still more beautiful than we probably deserve.
25. All-Night Parking
All Night Parking served as the template that showed what Adele could evolve into going forward in her career. Coming from an album that alternated tracks between devastating sadness and upbeat anthems, this jazz-infused song with a trap beat was exactly what we needed to hear coming out of the pandemic years.
26. Take It All
After dealing with a violent breakup, Adele is left regretting plenty from the finished relationship she sings about in Take It All. She still has feelings for the guy, but he doesn’t have them for her, so she watches him leave despite what she wants and is saying to just take everything with him when he goes.
27. Crazy for You
Crazy For You is, according to Adele, the “only really nice song” on her 19 album. And that should pretty much speak for itself.
28. Woman Like Me
Adele is nearly jumping out of her skin in this song, dissing her ex for ruining the potential of their relationship and being too insecure. According to her, it’s the only track she wrote in anger regarding her divorce, directing the lyrics at both her ex and herself.
29. My Little Love
In another song directed towards her son Angelo, Adele is trying to explain her divorce to her son in a way that would make sense to such a young child. It’s chilling how emotional the track gets, and it’s definitely a tear-jerker.
30. River Lea
River Lea harkens back to Adele’s childhood in London, referencing the real river that runs through her neighborhood in canals. According to her, she spent a lot of time walking beside it, and it represents her blaming her bad habits on where she grew up.
Adele is—obviously—best known for her incredible singing voice, and that’s a prominent feature in any of her songs, right? Not this time. The vocals take a back seat to layers of synth riffs, violins, and huge instrumental sections as she sings a simple, relatable relationship track.
32. Turning Tables
The production value of 21 shines through throughout the album, but perhaps Turning Tables is the song that most perfectly melds Adele’s angelic voice with the music. As the final single to be released from the album, it was the last the UK world got from her until Remedy came out five years later.
33. Sweetest Devotion
Sweetest Devotion comes from Adele’s attempt to shield her son from the consequences of having a famous mother. It was the final track of her album, 25.
34. Strangers By Nature
Strangers By Nature opens with Adele taking flowers to the cemetery of her own heart, creating a singularly sad metaphor that begs whether she will ever be able to get over the things that have caused her pain.
35. Painting Pictures
This song is just good. It’s track 13 on the Japanese and New Zealand releases of 19, so it’s honestly pretty obscure, but it holds its own alongside the other amazing songs on the album and deserves this spot.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
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