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The 11 best Adele songs

With Adele hosting her own pop-up stadium shows in Europe this summer, it's time to count down her 11 best tracks

Despite being a mega-worldwide superstar with a Vegas residency under her belt, to most English people (and Londoners specifically) Adele feels like an old mate. The kind of girl that lends you lipstick in the club lavs, while telling you your cheating boyfriend ain’t worth sh*t. We all need a cheerleader like Adele in our lives, and that’s probably why her appeal goes beyond the 120 million records she’s sold worldwide.

Born in Tottenham (and proudly so) Adele Laurie Blue Adkins is now one of the world’s most decorated artists, and the UK’s best-selling female of the 21st century. Her albums are beloved, stratospheric. People famously propose to their partners at her sell-out shows. 

From songs about heartbreak with potty-mouthed interludes (so much so the BBC had to famously put a time delay on her 2016 Glastonbury performance for fear she would start effing and jeffing pre-9pm) to fangirling over Beyoncé at the GRAMMYs, this is the girl that gets Emma Thompson dancing in the stalls while praising her local Chinese takeaway. What a bloody joy she is.

With a pop-up European residency now announced for Munich Messe in Germany this summer, here’s eleven of her very best songs for the plane ride over…

11. Rumour Has It

(21, 2011)

Penned in response to friends allegedly believing rumours written about her in the tabloids, Adele’s fourth single from 21 is a cleverly constructed pop record. Layered with handclaps and gospel backing singers, it packs a notable bluesy stomp that would live quite happily alongside tracks by The Shangri Las and other notable 60s girl groups. It also sounds phenomenal live.

10. Chasing Pavements

(19, 2008)

‘Chasing Pavements’ is the song that most Londoners recognise as Adele’s first hit, being that it was played everywhere from Big Topshop to Camden’s plethora of tourist-filled dive bars. It was commercial, yet not commercial. Catchy without becoming an irritating earworm. And while it doesn’t have the suckerpunch emotion of her later work, ‘Chasing Pavements’ for many is one of Adele’s finest songs.

9. When We Were Young

(25, 2015)

With Adele herself describing ‘When We Were Young’ as “a very 70s singer-songwriter vibe”, it’s clear this track was something of a departure from her usual gut-wrenching themes of loss and revenge. It’s charming and poignant – “it was just like a movie, it was just like a song” sounding like something penned by Elton John or Barbara Streisand. Plus, that endnote where Adele’s voice breaks oh-so slightly is utterly magical.

8. I Drink Wine

(30, 2021)

Written about the release of one’s ego, ‘I Drink Wine’ was the seventh track taken from Adele’s fourth studio album 30 – written in the wake of her divorce from husband Simon Konecki in 2019. With lines such as “I hope I learn to get over myself”, this is Adele holding her hands out in mock surrender to her past, her heartbreak and her demons. With beautiful touches such as a harmonium and her own heavily-accented confessions, ‘I Drink Wine’ is a reminder that we are always stronger than we think.

7. Make You Feel My Love

(19, 2008)

It’s always a punchy decision to include a cover version on your debut album, even more so for that cover to be a Dylan song. But, Adele’s rendition of ‘Make You Feel My Love’ is a pretty thing that showcases her voice without straying into cloying ballad territory. Sweet, carefully considered and delivered with hushed reverence, Adele makes this track her own.

6. Hometown Glory

(19, 2008)

Written when she was just 16, ‘Hometown Glory’ is Adele’s first song, and her debut single (although it was later re-released as the fourth single from 19). A tribute to London, this is Adele before the polish. Stripped back and subtle, ‘Hometown Glory’ is like a premonition; a ghostly prophecy spoken of Adele’s future and what she was to become. Understandably, it’s become something of a ‘true fan’ favourite, and always brings the audience to its knees.

5. Skyfall

(Skyfall, 2012)

Adele does Bond, and dang does she do it well. It’s the Bond song that we always knew we needed, and our girl absolutely nails the brief. Entering into hallowed Bassey territory with the dramatic string intro and haunting melody, it’s lucky Skyfall was actually the best film in what was fast becoming a tired and outdated franchise. Add to that a sprinkling of Adele’s soaring croon and you’ve got a magnificent coupling. Plus, it won Adele an Oscar. Not bad for a girl from Tottenham.

4. Hello

(25, 2015)

Loaded with caution, self-realisation and regret, Adele’s first single release from her third album 25 became the first song to sell over a million digital copies in a week. Technically a power ballad, Adele has reportedly said that ‘Hello’ isn’t about an “ex-relationship, a love relationship” but more so the sometimes painful transition from childhood to adulthood, and all the friends, lovers and acquaintances lost along the way. Despite touching on the pain of loss, there’s also a sense of peace about ‘Hello’, echoing Adele’s journey from Never Mind The Buzzcocks to primetime US variety shows. Mature and self-aware, ‘Hello’ sounds like a turning point.

3. Set Fire To The Rain

(21, 2011)

Oof. Adele naysayers, step back – the chorus of ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ absolutely slaps. This is pure goosebump territory. The lush string arrangements, the growled “watch” from Tottenham’s finest; this became a wine-fuelled anthem for every girl that ever had her heart broken, written to be screamed through smudged mascara while ruing the day the bastard was born. It’s furious yet stunningly beautiful, the first of the magnificent triple single whammy that sits at the heart of 21.

2. Someone Like You

(21, 2011)

Adele’s first UK No.1 single and the track that feels like it’s been covered by a million people (yes, including the cast of Glee), ‘Someone Like You’ is the antithesis to other songs on 21 that seem to celebrate her post-heartbreak empowerment. Raw and achingly reflective, Adele has since said that Someone Like You “is me on my knees”, and, despite being vocally assaulted by karaoke bars the world over, its themes of sadness, loneliness and regret are still starkly relevant to anyone that’s loved and lost.

1. Rolling In The Deep

(21, 2011)

It all starts with that intro, Adele’s voice like a call to arms before the drum thumps in with its bitter heartbeat. 21’s opener and one of the finest ‘crossover’ tracks to ever capture the airwaves, ‘Rolling In The Deep’ hits as hard as it did a decade ago with its slick arrangements, gospel overtones and soaring vocal line. Arguably the song that turned Adele into a global phenomenon, this is a track that still sounds multi-layered and complex, euphoric yet etched with scorn. It’s nothing short of superb.  

Adele is playing an exclusive set of shows in Munich, Germany this summer. Find out how to get tickets here.