Acts of contrition

ARMY OF ME - The Philippine Star

The first track from Adele’s upcoming album is with us, and it’s the kind of grand, swooping, lovelorn ballad that made the Grammy-winner one of the biggest stars in the world. Lionel Richie jokes aside, her new song Hello is quite unsurprisingly about broken relationships and sounds precisely like something you would hear in a movie about teenage vampires. Its video—shot by Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan in the Montreal countryside—accumulated 27.7m views on its first day online.

In the four years since her previous album “21” became a sales phenomenon of a type record companies feared had disappeared for good, Adele Adkins grew up. She was forced to undergo vocal cord microsurgery to remove a benign polyp then became a mother to a baby boy. Most important, the cockney-accented singer signed to an independent label, the London-based XL Recordings, where she has been given the room to develop that a more mainstream company would have been unlikely to grant her.

If there was ever a soundtrack to one’s quarter-life crisis, perhaps “25” might be it. “My last record was a break up record and if I had to label this one I would call it a make up record. I’m making up with myself. Making up for lost time. Making up for everything I ever did and never did,” Adele wrote in a Facebook post. “But I haven’t got time to hold on to the crumbs of my past like I used to. Turning 25 was a turning point for me, slap bang in the middle of my 20s. Teetering on the edge of being an old adolescent and a fully fledged adult, I made the decision to go into becoming who I’m going to be forever.”

Mature sound

Like Adele’s “25,” Justin Bieber’s “Purpose” is shaping up to be one of November’s most anticipated releases, even without the hype that normally accompanies such a project. It all boils down to a refreshingly mature sound, a subdued step forward for the 21-year-old Canadian pop star.

His current single Sorry, a collaboration with Skrillex, starts with a Caribbean-inspired beat before exploding into a glorious chorus. Despite its rueful lyrics, the video for Sorry is playful, featuring an all-girl Auckland-based dance crew known as ReQuest. With Where Are Ü Now, his track with Jack Ü’s Diplo and Skrillex, and What Do You Mean, the first single released from Purpose, it seems that he is finally finding his own voice.

Public atonement

“I never was really able to make the music that I wanted to make and I was really young,” Bieber told BBC Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw. “I had people telling me what to record and giving me songs. I’m glad now that I really have a say in what I do and feel like this is my project.”

It looks as if 2015 is the year the Biebs’ gets to publicly atone for his youthful petulance. He kicked off with a Calvin Klein campaign in January, followed by shoots with Mario Testino and Karl Lagerfeld. He gamely parodied himself on variety shows and endured a brutal Comedy Central roast. He did all this—and even poked fun at his nude Bora Bora photos—to make up for previous moments of head-shaking idiocy, from writing an ill-advised note in the guestbook at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam to urinating in a mop bucket at a New York City nightclub.

“It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them,” wrote P.G. Wodehouse in 1915’s The Man Upstairs. Whether these acts of contrition, delivered by Adele and Justin Bieber in song form, are sincere or not, we seem to have agreed that just saying sorry is usually enough. If the chorus is catchy and the music video is cool, our collective memory begins to fade even faster.

Bieber's current single Sorry, a collaboration with Skrillex, starts with a Caribbean-inspired beat before exploding into a glorious chorus.












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