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You Heard Me Wrong

Aidan Moffat Takes A Closer Look At Adele's 'Someone Like You'
Aidan Moffat , June 20th, 2011 04:03

A few years ago, Aidan Moffat sorted out your sexual problems in his I'm No Expert column. Now he resurrects it to scrutinise the lyrics of pop ancient and modern. First up, a terrifying encounter with Adele...

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According to Wikipedia, Adele’s number 1 single 'Someone Like You' has “received universal acclaim by music critics”, and yet to my ears it sounds like it was especially penned by a rom-com robot for a new Häagen Dazs-sponsored Girls’ Night In compilation. But as well as being badly written, saccharine gibberish, it’s also quite scary, psychologically troubling and emotionally stunted. Am I the only one listening to the words or what?

"I heard that you're settled down,
That you found a girl and you're married now,"

A 2007 survey of UK couples concluded that the average time from first meeting to marriage proposal is two years and 11 months, and Adele seems pretty average to me. So if I’m already married and settled down then we can safely assume the honeymoon’s over and my wife and I have been wearing gold bands for quite a while now. So how long has it been since we split up? Three-and-a-half-years maybe? Four years? Five? More than five?

"I heard that your dreams came true,
Guess she gave you things I didn't give to you,
Old friend, why are you so shy?
Ain't like you to hold back or hide from the light,"

Because, honestly, I’m slightly scared . . .

"I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited,
But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it,"

Turn up out of the blue? Okay, so that means you knew where to find me, so you’re likely to be either at my work, which is mental, or at my house, which is even worse. If you’re at my house and I’m in, that means I’m not working, and if I’m not working then my wife probably isn’t either. Which means she’s at home, listening at the window and wondering who the mad weirdo with the sad eyes at the door is. Maybe she’s even pregnant now, or she could be breastfeeding our first child as I stand here listening to you emote at the front door. And maybe she’s about to phone the police or the Samaritans, or maybe you’re about to get a slap – trust me, don’t ever mess with a new mother. So, if you know where I live or work, then you probably know – or could easily have found out – my phone number. Or have I been forced to make it ex-directory after a spate of midnight calls from a sobbing ex? Don’t you think a call or a text would have been better? Or even an email? I’ve probably still got the same email address, unless of course it was changed due to an ongoing barrage of broken-hearted grief-spam.

"I had hoped you'd see my face,
And that you'd be reminded that for me it isn't over,"

As you well know, since we split up I’ve met someone new, courted, proposed, planned a wedding, married, honeymooned, and settled down, presumably as part of a larger family and most likely with the intention of starting a new one. Indeed it’s quite reasonable to presume that I’m already a Dad now, so the only thing that your face reminds me of is the invaluable comfort of knowing there’s a good lock on my son’s bedroom window.

"Nevermind, I'll find someone like you,"

Fair enough – what are you so upset about then? This line suggests you’re pretty confident and carefree, so what are you doing turning up at my house after all these years at this time of night? Oh, I see – you’re just trying to convince yourself, aren’t you? In which case, may I suggest that you find someone who isn’t like me at all? Maybe that way the relationship might have a better chance of success. Just a thought.

"I wish nothing but the best for you, too,"

When did I say that? Because I take it back, nut-job.

"Don't forget me, I beg,"

You haven’t really given me the chance, have you?

"I remember you said,
'Sometimes it lasts in love,
But sometimes it hurts instead,'
Sometimes it lasts in love,
But sometimes it hurts instead, yeah,"

Yeah... I was being nice. You didn’t seem to grasp it all those years ago the first time round, so let me put it in simpler terms you’ll hopefully understand: I don’t love you anymore.

"You know how the time flies,
Only yesterday was the time of our lives,"

Only yesterday? I’VE GOT A WIFE NOW.

"We were born and raised in a summer haze,"

Wait a minute, we need to clarify something here – are you implying that we only went out for the duration of one summer? Now I’m really scared. What did you say your name was again?

"Bound by the surprise of our glory days,"

I haven’t a clue what you’re on about now.

"Nothing compares,
No worries or cares,
Regrets and mistakes, they're memories made,"

Yes, memories. As in: HISTORY.

"Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?"

Bittersweet for you, maybe. I think I’m doing alright, to be honest. I’ve got a wife, a new home and a beautiful baby boy. How are things going for you?

dirigible
Jun 20, 2011 8:44am

You think that's bad, try the not-even-repressed violence and bile of "Rolling In The Deep"...

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badgerfodder
Jun 20, 2011 11:28am

I thought that the fact that it was "scary" and "psychologically troubling", was what made it a decent ballad.

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-Twist-
Jun 20, 2011 11:40am

This is brillant. As usual with one of the Arab Strap boys.

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Mark
Jun 20, 2011 12:09pm

Oh, Aidan Moffat, you Legend of a man.

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l
Jun 20, 2011 12:19pm

Thank you aiden, you keep us sane

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Suspected Dog
Jun 20, 2011 12:26pm

Yeah, and Mick Jagger probably wasn't born in a force five hurricane either.....feckin popstars and there poetic license!!

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Red_Dog
Jun 20, 2011 12:40pm

Am I alone in thinking what's the point of Adele? Unless, of course, you missed Dusty Springfield the first time round...

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Lolly
Jun 20, 2011 1:16pm

Load of shit! I know this is supposed to be light hearted but picking apart and taking the piss out of someone's (obviously heartfelt) lyrics is horrible. Don't know what I expected from a bitter and twisted old Scot though...

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Linz Endell
Jun 20, 2011 1:20pm

Perhaps she's been listening to "Every Breath You Take".

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Nick
Jun 20, 2011 2:07pm

In reply to Lolly:

What's someone's nationality got to do with anything? Lolly = Racist.

So, in short, no one cares what racists say, so fuck off Lolly.

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Wrong
Jun 20, 2011 2:47pm

I agree with badgerfodder.

I'd never heard this song or ever had any interest in Adele until you pointed out that she's a stalker and a psychopath.

I'm off out to buy all her albums now, which I guess was not the desired effect of this article.

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Lewis
Jun 20, 2011 3:37pm

The answer is no, I don't really listen carefully to the lyrics. I rather listen to the voice she has, the way she sings, the energy she has and the emotion she manages to put in her singing. Your article is especially for entertainment, I can see that !

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Zoe
Jun 20, 2011 4:04pm

Excellent, I think demolishing Bruno Mars, Grenade should be next on the list!

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trev gibb
Jun 20, 2011 5:51pm

Quality Aidan.

Cover it with the in-between dialogue right after your version of Money.

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Monica
Jun 20, 2011 6:14pm

Love Adele and the song but article very funny.

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FudULike
Jun 20, 2011 7:11pm

It's about an ex you dumped via a beer-mat no-stamp postcard who comes round your Mam's when you've gone wi' the whole family for a Sunday roast. She knocks on the front door and then starts munching all manner of pills. You just think to yourself she's got a bit fat since the 90's.

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james
Jun 20, 2011 10:41pm

In reply to Suspected Dog :

no, he was born in a cross-fire hurricane.

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D-Mo
Jun 21, 2011 10:42am

I was a bit freaked out by the line:
Nevermind, I'll find...someone like you....

And Adele does look like she has more than a bit of a stalker in her.

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Robbie
Jun 21, 2011 1:41pm

I get the point, yet I don't think this column is as brilliant as many people think. A lot of lyrics in popmusic are hardly understandable and/or saccharine gibberish, so Adele is no exception. I must say that I like this ladies' voice a lot and I think a compliment is better suited than this kind of easy criticism by someone who can just manage a typewriter.

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Tom
Jun 22, 2011 2:27pm

Brilliant haha

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Bitter Lemons
Jun 22, 2011 3:27pm

I bet you'd have given your right arm, both legs and tongue (or is that wishful thinking on my behalf) for a twentieth of her PRS alone on that track. Bitter fool

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jh
Jul 3, 2011 11:43pm

In reply to D-Mo:

Not only that but a chubby, teary stalker. The worst kind.

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colin topper
Jul 7, 2011 9:22pm

He would know about what is dull from when Arab Strap used to knock about with Lauren Laverne.

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Adele
Jul 8, 2011 6:31pm

Rebecca I agree wiv everything u said lol!! i wrote u a song to thank you for being so kind and lovely. xx

Rebecca you are a beautiful woman,
I love you forever
Like the sea in a child's eyes
Such sad eyes,
Like the misty sundays we use to know
Blue Skyyyyyy, yeah yeah yeah
Rebecca do you want
To go see Bridesmaids with me
In the Cinema tomorrow night?
even if it leads nowhere??

Love,
Adele Xxx

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Ian
Jul 10, 2011 9:51pm

aidan, i imagine this garnered peals of laughter and backslaps when you were down the pub regaling your mates with your hilarious and cutting - not to mention totally original - takedown of popstar and professional dumpee adele. but onscreen it's just kindof... lame

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Ian
Jul 10, 2011 9:52pm

though possibly not quite as lame as all the guys going YEAH! HIGH FIVE! SOMEONE NEEDED TO TAKE THAT BITCH DOWWWN BOOYAA on here.

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Hedgy
Jul 10, 2011 11:41pm

In reply to Ian:

Ian ... you nailed it!

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someonelikeme
Jul 11, 2011 3:07am

If you've ever heard Adele in an interview discussing this song (which she has done a lot), then you would know that the guy the song is about dumped her and then just a few later weeks, while Adele was still in the throes of heartbreak, she learned he was already engaged to someone else. So you're theory of 2 years/11 months 'til engagement doesn't wash here. The song is about being heartbroken and still being in love with the jerk who ripped your heart.

I guess no one you've loved has ever treated you like garbage and then ripped your heart out.

PS Let's see you write something better.

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ijustreadapieceofshit
Jul 11, 2011 6:43am

What a joke. I'm betting Aidan Moffat has to pay for sex; who else would be willing sleep with such a jealous, petty, misogynist, and probably really smelly, uni-browed bushman.

Hey Aidan, when you write something worthy of an audience wider than the bunch of home-alone wanking neanderthals your music currently appeals to, maybe, just maybe, someone will give a shit about what you have to say. Until then, shut your stinking cake-hole.

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Shaz
Jul 11, 2011 2:59pm

Maybe this is what happened to Adele's character:
I was sitting in the car in a garage on Woodlands Road
When a big blonde caught my eye
I was staring into space just gazing and by she strode
And I let slip a little sigh

It took another second or two for it to click
That that big blonde was you
And I gaped and goggled my gaze could not unstick
As though I fell for you a new
- Aidan Moffat

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Terry Trumpets
Jul 14, 2011 1:49am

Every time I hear this song a bit of my soul withers and dies. Given than I work 12-hour shifts and there's a major commercial radio station on the tannoy 24/7, this awful cliche-ridden sobb/yelping dirge has rendered me into a soulless husk.

Also I'm wondering whether Rebecca Pearson knows about the difference between a group and its individual members. Instinct tells me the answer is "probably, but only when it suits her book".

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Terry Trumpets
Jul 14, 2011 1:53am

In reply to Terry Trumpets:

Fuck's sake, I'm typing like a right spastic tonight.

"Given than" = "Given that"
"[...], this awful cliche-ridden etc." = "[...], I can only conclude that this awful cliche-ridden etc."

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Chris
Jul 14, 2011 10:12am

In reply to someonelikeme:

He has written much, much better songs, several times over. The whole of Philiophobia, Monday at The Hug and Pint and Everything's Getting Older piss on this cliche-filled nonsense from several stories...

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emptymilkbottles
Jul 18, 2011 1:37pm

In reply to Suspected Dog :

He was born in a crossfire hurricane, though as far as I remember he never mentioned where it registered on the Beaufort scale.

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none
Jul 20, 2011 10:29am

load of sarcastic, literal minded rubbish. No point made, no attempt at analysis, no sophisticated humour.

crawl back where we found you.

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sid
Jul 20, 2011 11:32am

Am I the only one terrified that there are so many Adele fans reading this site? Quietus, you're obviously doing something wrong. Unless they just google Adele and read everything that comes up. That must be a full-time job.

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colintopper50
Jul 20, 2011 5:11pm

I have no real opinion of Adele but was wondering if this piece was meant to be humourous or a genuine outburst of vitriol. If it was actually funny it might clear the matter up. I quite liked Arab Strap although the last time I saw them they stormed off mid set after someone heckled them so maybe Aidan is unable to take any abuse himself and can only dish it out. What I do find really scary and troubling though is why a middle aged man would go to the effort of writing a piece like this about a pop song written by a girl in her early twenties. Bizarre.

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Marjolein
Jul 21, 2011 2:17pm

To all people who feel this article insults the song: grow a spine! Yes, it's a beautiful song. Yes, it's written from a sad woman's perspective, and yes we should respect what she's trying to do here. So now that we've established all that: the song also happens to be very suitable for making a joke out of it, as Aidan hilariously proves i might say :) So we were already able to think about the song very deeply and seriously and now we are able to laugh really hard about it as well! The one thing does not, by any means, exclude the other. So what's the problem exactly??

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Jul 21, 2011 2:31pm

In reply to ijustreadapieceofshit:

Yeah. OR, maybe you should wonder why you get so upset about this piece in the first place? Shouldn't you be miles above all this? Should't you be involved solely in very non-bushman, non-masturbating circles of people with perfectly plucked eyebrows who write nice, politically correct, humourless pieces on very important matters? At this point, i am more surprised by yóur cake-hole then Aidans :)

Hey Aidan, when you write something worthy of an audience wider than the bunch of home-alone wanking neanderthals your music currently appeals to, maybe, just maybe, someone will give a shit about what you have to say. Until then, shut your stinking cake-hole.

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Jacob
Jul 21, 2011 11:19pm

Her lyrics tend to be very literal and void of good poetry, but her presence and her voice make up for that if you care to take a second look, closer look. When you're in hardship you don't always feel like getting lost in a sea of metaphors, esoteric idioms or arcane details of what has passed. And not everything has to be Shakespearean, or even poetic to work, that is an assumption made my many people these days, dipping their toes in the sea of elitism.

Rather than comparing Adele and her modest proclamations to artists that you personally feel are wordsmiths, you should compare her to the nauseating trash that young people tend to listen to these days.

In that sense, Adele is a shining beacon of hope. If Someone Like Adele is worthy of criticism in today's world of music, then by God, the legs of your pedestal must be redwood-made.

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Jul 26, 2011 12:39pm

Ah I had never heard the song in question, but this made me chuckle proper... followed by Rebecca's facebook comment that literally made me want to cry of laughter...
However, songwriting for the masses is a completely different nut than writing indie songs-and if it has touched so many people, it must be hitting many of "right" chords...

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jacob's a ballbag.
Jul 27, 2011 1:54am

In reply to Jacob:

'dipping your toes in the sea of elitism?'

That metaphor made me cringe so much my face caved in on itself. Please don't spin that turgid shit on an article that is clearly a bit of light-hearted fun.

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toughlove1
Jul 27, 2011 2:04pm

I think this is article as unfair towards these lyrics, your not looking at the lyrics with depth. I think your comments are demeaning towards "someone like you". ADELE's music, people understand and relate. The review you gave is a very simple and quite egotistic, it's not kind. Your opinion is interesting and I see where your coming from but most of the stuff you've written is just pure blabber. It's seem this song a joke to you, it's not to ADELE and her fansm this come from a shattered heart. Your taking the mickey out of this song, your ideology of this song is very small. This song relates to people, if a song can do that; it's brilliant.

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Trebuchet
Aug 3, 2011 11:33am

In reply to D-Mo:

And more than half of a generous buffet

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Elise
Aug 4, 2011 2:38pm

Immaturity doesn't even cover what this article stands for. Yes, I am a fan of Adele, but even if I wasn't...seriously? You want to read this piffle?!
You've taken a well crafted song and knocked it down to some 'goosebump' version of a teenage boy video game. Perhaps because you don't talk about what you feel when you are heartbroken it means that we should listen to you?! If that's the case then I think I'd rather go and kick a puppy.
What I'd rather do is sit and listen to something that might just be about real things, real feelings and real honesty. Not some trash talking nut that thinks he's funny, when actually I'd rather laugh at a clown squirting water in my face.
You mustn't have much work on if this is what you're coming out with, Elmo could do a better job.

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Christopher Queen
Aug 9, 2011 1:25pm

In reply to Elise:

I would LOVE to see Elmo do a review for The Quietus. Sunn 0))), perhaps? Or Merzbow??

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John Calvert
Sep 7, 2011 2:57am

In reply to Jacob:

In music, there's only one thing more unpoetic, artless, banal and obvious than Adele's lyrics on 'Someone'. and that's Moffat's music, and Middleton's. Lyrically speaking, although his kk-kk-kk-razy self-effacing style has grown tired after 20 years in service, his storytelling is entertaining, rich and evocative. But sonically....jesus...his last album for example...grey, dated, lumpen. Middleton's Waxing Gibbous was even poorer. hellishly boring folktronica sound.

To return to his lyrics, the subject of the above article (a very moffat-esque exercise in mediocrity). Being eye-wateringly confessional isn't art, its another form of narcism. The semi-autobiography is the preserve of the utterly unimaginative. Yeah, so Scotland is fcking shit. So's Belfast, and most British cities. If you don't like it do something about it. Except that he won't because like every hoary old local jakey sitting at the end of the bar boring the sh*t out of everybody he encounters, Moffat likes complaining. It's just exhausting. Cheer up, eh? Take it on the chin and plug your guitar in..or write a book. I've always thought of the Arab Strap boys as total cowards. Misery is easy, fella.

Musically, self destruction is something I personally respect, or at the other end of the spectrum a plaintive attempt at optimism against all odds. But Moffat's music just sits in the middle of the road like some big brown sunday afternoon shit. Drab acoustica, a pinch of electronics, self pity. inspiring stuff. fck away off to your wife and gurn, like all snarky malcontents do in the safety of their own home.

'First BIG weekend' was good though. kind of.

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Aidy James Stevens
Sep 7, 2011 1:07pm

At least she didn't ask you if you were still in 2 it, 'cos she's still in 2 it.

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Martin Burkitt
Sep 12, 2011 4:24pm

Funny stuff, but I dont agree. I've always quite liked the slight creepyness of these lyrics - which was surely intentional - therefore don't agree that it could/would have been written by a 'rom-com robot' for a 'girls night in' compo. And while he describes it as badly-written he goes on to show that the creepy message comes through perfectly well, well enough for him to dissect it line-by-line and write his witty article.

The only line he doesn't get to me is perfectly simple: like most summer relationships, they are short, sudden (surprising, even) and often leave both parties wanting more (see Grease, 1978 for more info). Hence the pretext of this song.

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Valerie Waldschmidt
Sep 13, 2011 12:42pm

At first I was like "no, hey, I love this song!" The way she switches from her low to high register in the chorus is so beautiful it gives me chills, which is what I believe, ultimately makes us connect to a song, less so than the lyrics as a whole. Then I thought about your take on it and it's definitely funny and, I think, somewhat true. However, I think she realizes what she has done is awkward, going to visit him like that - she's put this past love on a pedestal. She feels awkward - she says it's bittersweet, she says 'never mind' (forget it I was wrong-haha sorry my bad) - like she's embarrassed that she had hoped he still felt the same way. She's insecure and unsure, but hopeful, if she will actually find another love that will live up to this experience when she was young and in her "glory days."

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Blestlyrical
Oct 10, 2011 10:00pm

I admit this did make me chuckle. I like and respect Adele as an artist but have never cared for the song. It's the needless self-pity of it that grates me and this piece picks up on that. Still, it is a bit too dismissive of Adele overall which isn't on. It's so good to see someone genuinely talented doing well in the current climate of mainstream music.

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Anon
Dec 20, 2011 3:14pm

What a nasty website this is, if this hate filled article is anything to go by. People turn to suicide because of attitudes like this.

You really are nasty and vindictive people.

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Damien Henderson
Dec 29, 2011 12:16am

I fucking love you Aidan Moffat. Are you still writing songs?

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Phoebe
Jan 12, 2012 3:22am

There is no excuse, Pauline, for anything as stunningly execrable as this "song" (to use a term loosely.) It is a maudlin, poor-little-me whine and illiterate nonsense to boot. Thank you, thank you, Mr. Moffat, for saying so splendidly what I was trying to say to two of my grandchildren just last night.

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Feb 4, 2012 10:55pm

At work, they have the sat station stuck on the generic pop station playing the same shit over and over. I swear out of all the shit I hear over and over this song will be the one that makes me go on a shoting spree, if I hear it one more time I might actually rip the f***ing speakers out of the ceiling...

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Feb 8, 2012 7:53am

or it could be a song about Best Friends so many possibilites:P

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magdalena
Feb 15, 2012 4:57am

i thought a similar thing --- if he's such a jerk then why would she want to "find someone like [him]" again? and go again through a break-up with the jerk? maybe she's a masochist? so the story went like this --- a teen girl, who suffers but yet doesn't know it from a manic depressive illness, loses her mind over a guy during a summer vocation and then, well... they go separate ways, they go home, the big romance ends. not to mention that the romance probably just happened in her head.

delusional states of imagined love happen to so many people in this world it is no wonder that adele's message resonates with so many...

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gloria owens
Mar 14, 2012 11:28pm

How about a closer look at Sting's "I'll be watching you"?

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eddie jack
Mar 21, 2012 12:26pm

haaahaa fekin genius , adele's lucky she never met someone like me because unlike the guy who left her i would have rode the gravy train and sponged off her till she got so sick of me that she dumped me , so that i could go and pen a song about how money talks and bullsh**t walks the only deep she would be rolling in is a mountain of debt hahahahaaa. :)

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charlotte
Oct 15, 2012 5:35pm

You must have been badly hurt yourself to come up with a pile of provocative crap like this

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Dec 14, 2012 9:44am

perfect piece in reply to a crap song

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Katrina Anika
Apr 4, 2013 10:36pm

Who does this twisted and messed up man think he is?!! How can you pick apart someones soulful and heartless lyrics when you probably cant sing yourself?! Talk about hypocritical!!!

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Oct 30, 2013 4:54pm

All the best songs about heartbreak are creepy....Can't Get You Outta My Head, I Want You, Song To The Siren etc....I'm not a massive Adele fan, but I think this song is lyrically economical rather than being badly written, which helps with the sentiment it's trying to put across. If people really think this is one of the worst songs they've ever heard then they can't have heard many songs.

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