True Meaning Behind Adele’s “Chasing Pavements” Song

Chasing Pavements was the debut single for Adele on her album 19 from 2008, and this track helped pave the way for her career to be as successful as it is today. If you’ve been wondering what the true meaning behind Adele’s Chasing Pavements song is, keep reading as we dive into the details! 

The Origins 

Chasing Pavements set the tone for Adele’s debut album 19, which was released in 2008 when she was 19 years old. The song goes into regret, losing your love, and trying to find yourself again after that relationship ends and this would be the theme of the entire album.

At the time, she had been seeing an older man for about six months, and Chasing Pavements, along with most of the other tracks on 19, focused on him. This breakup was the first time she had ever had her heart broken in her entire life, so she wasn’t sure whether the best option was to try to make it work with him or just walk away.

The song was co-written by Francis “Eg” White and was inspired by an argument Adele had with her then-boyfriend while out at a bar in London. 

The Music Video 

Even though the music video for Chasing Pavements is depicting scenery in London, it was recorded in Los Angeles, California. It centers on a car wreck, and one view of the video shows the people motionless on the pavement after the wreck while the other view is showing the vehicle’s occupants from above. 

Adele - Chasing Pavements (Official Music Video)

The first view shows Adele with a guy inside the car, and she begins to sing before getting out of the car while people begin running to the wreck. She sings while near a tree, and the occupants of the vehicle are put on stretchers and taken away by ambulances. In this view, she is not a victim but just a bystander of the wreck. 

The second view in the video depicts Adele and her boyfriend from the start of their relationship, including the first time they met, and then the happy times they had together. The man then finds out the woman had someone else, and although angry at her, they continue their relationship.

They begin to dance together on the pavement while people look on and also begin dancing. However, the two people aren’t really happy and are shown on the pavement motionless, with ambulances carrying them away in two different directions. 

Chart Performance 

As the debut single from 19, Chasing Pavements peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 while peaking at number two on the UK Singles Chart. The song remained on the UK Singles Chart for 25 weeks!

In Canada, it made it to position 28, and it was certified as triple Platinum by Music Canada. The track was a hit worldwide with it landing at number four in Israel, two in Scotland, one in Norway, and peaked at number eight in Denmark. 

The Lyrics 

When you look into the lyrics of Chasing Pavements, it’s pretty clear Adele is struggling with whether or not to continue with a relationship that she knows isn’t going anywhere. She asks whether she should give up or keep chasing pavements. The lyrics talk about it not being lust but instead, it’s love. Although, at some point, enough has to be enough. 

Toward the end, she repeats her main question, which is whether she should give up or keep chasing pavements even if it leads nowhere. This repetition allows us to see how conflicted she was about walking away for good from this person, even though she knows it’s the right thing to do for herself. It’s obvious in the lyrics she knows the person won’t change and the situation will remain the same, and it’s all about coming to terms with that and moving on. 

So…What Is It About? 

“Chasing pavements” is a phrase that isn’t common in the US, but it means to chase after something that’s hopeless. In the case of this song, she was chasing a relationship and hoping it’ll work out but she knew it was over. Adele used the phrase to show that she was stuck between feeling like she should run after her boyfriend and letting him go altogether, so there is regret and heartbreak throughout the track.

Specifically, the idea behind Chasing Pavements occurred when Adele and her boyfriend were getting into an argument at a West End bar in London. He had cheated on her and she was at the bar arguing with him after confronting him. She ran out of the bar on Oxford Street and just kept running, but she noticed he wasn’t chasing after her. She looked down and saw nothing but pavement in front of her, and then a couple of days later, she wrote this song about that night running down the street.

Reception By Media 

Chasing Pavements was praised by the media as one of her best tracks, including Billboard critic Chuck Arnold, who said that it was her second-best song. He went on to say that it was sophisticated and likened her ability to write to Carole King

Both American Songwriter and Parade listed Chasing Pavements as her ninth-best song, while NME writer Jazz Monroe said that even though the hook was grandiose, this was her eighth-best track. It’s clear that the lyrics showed off her sophistication and maturity, which is what the critics kept praising. 


At the 51st Grammy Award ceremony, Chasing Pavements was nominated in three categories including Song Of The Year, Record Of The Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. 

She lost Song of the Year to Viva La Vida by Coldplay and lost Record of the Year to Please Read The Letter by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. However, Adele won the Grammy for the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance category.

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