“I just got here and I think I’m losing signal already … sorry,” says a sepia-toned Adele, windswept upon her arrival to an old, abandoned house at the end of a secluded country drive.
And so we enter with her into the microcosm of a tender, long-hidden memory in the balladeer’s latest video for “Hello.” This abandoned house is a time capsule where we relive with Adele the narrative of a love long lost. Much of the video is filmed from the first person: Her old boyfriend speaks directly to the camera, and we see Adele’s hands reaching out to him as if they’re the viewer’s own. When her ex isn’t talking to us, Adele stands next to a rusting, ivy-wrapped, vintage London telephone booth in a sun sprinkled forest clearing pouring her heart out, a perfect millennial queen.
Although the narrative force behind the video isn’t incredibly novel, I call Adele a millennial queen for a reason. The video is heartbreaking but soothing to watch at the same time, managing to assuage several anxieties of the millennial generation. The entire thing is saturated in nostalgia: The whole video is filmed in sepia, Adele is visiting an old abandoned house, and although there are phones in the video, not one of them is a smartphone. Instead both Adele and her former lover use flip phones — an elegy to the 2000s — or corded phones in the mysteriously placed phone booth or inside the house.
Not only is she letting viewers enter a vintage fantasy; she’s also overcoming other social problems prominent in contemporary popular media. Adele looks absolutely stunning without conforming to the standard body type of the female celebrity, and her ex is Black. While it’s unfortunate that a biracial couple in a mainstream music video is worth noting, like everything else in the video, this definitely seemed purposeful. All in one video, Adele manages to answer the millennial obsession with nostalgia, overcomes unjust expectations on women’s bodies, and takes a step toward racial equality.
Although the video doesn’t necessarily push artistic boundaries, that’s not really what Adele is about. She’s about the vintage, she’s about the nostalgia, and she’s about being a champion of capturing our emotions. She does all this in the video of her latest single, “Hello.”