Throwback Thursday: “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele

This week we’re going back to one of Adele’s biggest hits. It perfectly walks the line between the blue-eyed soul that Adele became famous for, with a blend of refined pop sensibilities that ensured it would stay on the radio for months. The song is buoyed by delicate, almost acoustic guitar that allows Adele’s voice to really take the stage as the melody opens.

Then the drums kick in. They sound a lot like the drums from “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence Welch; they’re just as loud, but in this case a bit more ominous. Which is fitting, since “Rolling in the Deep” is basically the story of the narrator plotting to ruin their ex: “You’re going to wish you/never had met me…you’ll reap just what you sow.”

I also want to talk about the fantastic remix of this song that came out a few months later. It was a rework from Jamie xx and the then-unknown rapper Childish Gambino. Jamie xx replaces the original’s guitar with hand clapping. The drums are quieter now and more of a solid heartbeat. I love the echoing, knocking beat that prefaces the chorus. I think that the way he distorts Adele’s voice into a dragged out, masculine sound was actually pretty advanced for its time. That vocal effect would soon be all over club hits. The song continues fairly normally for a remix, and then – SWAG, Childish Gambino starts rapping. And surprisingly enough, it totally works. On some of the verses he has vocal fry, which is rare for a male singer, especially a rapper; it’s a small detail that accentuates the desperation of some of his verses.

Listen to both below: