The tale of two hellos
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2016 - 9:00am

I know, comparisons are odious. But this one seems to keep growing by the minute and I know of some music buffs who are starting to think there is some merit in it. The question is how similar is Adele’s song Hello with the Hello by one of the most popular artists of all time Lionel Richie?

Richie started his career with the Commodores of The Bump fame. But it was as a soul balladeer that he attained his biggest successes. Among the slow hits that he composed and recorded were Three Times A Lady, Truly, My Love, Say You Say Me. He also composed Lady for Kenny Rogers and co-wrote We Are The World with Michael Jackson. 

Hello by Richie is one of the hit cuts from the No. 1 selling and Grammy Album of the Year winner Can’t Slow Down that was released in 1984. It also included other memorable big-selling songs like All Night Long, Stuck On You, Running With The Night, Penny Lane and The Only One. 

A slow ballad with a marked guitar solo, Hello is about unrequited love portrayed in the video as Richie’s for a young blind art student.  It has a happy ending with Richie finding the girl sculpting his head. The lyrics are simple but the way they flowed with the melody and Richie’s smooth vocals made it an instant winner.

Hello by Lionel Richie: “I’ve been alone with you inside my mind/ And in my dreams I’ve kissed your lips a thousand times/ I sometimes see you pass outside my door/ Hello! Is it me you’re looking for?

“I can see it in your eyes/ I can see it in your smile/ you’re all I’ve ever wanted and my arms are open wide/ because you know just what to say/ and you know just what to do/ and I want to tell you so much/ I love you.

“I long to see the sunlight in your hair/ and tell you time and time again how much I care/ Sometimes I feel my heart will overflow/ Hello! I’ve just got to let you know.

“Because I wonder where you are/ and I wonder what you do/ Are you somewhere being lonely or is someone loving you? Tell me how to win your heart/ for I haven’t got a clue/ but let me start by saying I love you.”

Adele’s Hello made a gigantic blast to the top when it came out last October. Written by Adele and her producer Greg Kurstin, it was the first cut out of her new album 25, which went on to make sales history with over three million in sales on its first week out. It was Adele’s follow-up to her three-year-old hit album 21.

Hello is a soul ballad of the lush type. Adele sings over layers of background vocals, drums and piano. It is about painful attempts to heal the wounds of broken relationships. The video which has a confused Adele reaching out to the past in a wind-swept forest also made history with 27.7 million views during its first day on the web.

Hello by Adele: “Hello, it’s me, I was wondering/ if after all these years you’d like to meet to go over everything/ they say that time’s supposed to heal, yeah/ but I ain’t done much healing.

“Hello, can you hear me? I’m in California dreaming about who we used to be/ when we were younger and free/ I’ve forgotten how it felt before the world fell at our feet/ there’s such a difference between us and a million miles.

“Hello from the other side/ I must’ve called a thousand times/ to tell you I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done/ but when I call, you never seem to be home.

“Hello from the outside/ at least I can say that I’ve tried/ to tell you I’m sorry for breaking your heart/ but it don’t matter, it clearly doesn’t tear you apart anymore.

“Hello how are you? It’s so typical of me to talk about myself, I’m sorry/ I hope that you’re well/ Did you ever make it out of that town where nothing ever happened?  It’s no secret that both of us are running out of time.

“So hello from the other side/ I must’ve called a thousand times/ to tell you I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done/ but when I call you never seem to be home.

“Hello from the outside/ At least I can say that I’ve tried/ to tell you I’m sorry for breaking your heart/ but it don’t matter, it clearly doesn’t tear you apart anymore/ anymore….”

How similar are these songs to each other? Both are soul ballads superbly interpreted by the artists. For coherence of content and grammar,  I will go for Richie’s but Adele’s has a conversational tone younger listeners find appealing.  Richie’s Hello has already withstood the test of time. It is now 32 years old. Only time will tell if Adele’s will sound as good in 2045. 

Now I am not equipped to do a deeper analysis of the music and the nuances of the lyrics on the melody. Like these same two notes are the best to use with the word hello and Adele’s use of the phrase “a thousand times” show she must have heard Richie’s some time and unknowingly picked it up.

ACIRC ADELE ALL NIGHT LONG BECAUSE I COMMODORES OF THE BUMP GRAMMY ALBUM OF THE YEAR HELLO LIONEL RICHIE RICHIE TELL TIME
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