30 for 30

30 Questions for Adele’s ‘30’

Photo: Francis Specker/CBS via Getty Images

Hello. It’s Adele. She’s been wondering if, after all these years, you’d like to hear some new music. [Silence.] No … we swear this isn’t another spam call. After days of teasing and years of rumors, the singer-songwriter announced that her first song in just shy of six years, “Easy on Me,” will come out October 15. What do we know about it? Well, it’s got some crisp piano chords and a black-and-white music video, per the 21-second clip she posted to Twitter, which is to say — it’s an Adele song. Otherwise, at this point, Adele Atkins has left us with more questions than answers about her return, on the yet-unconfirmed album 30 (if that’s even its real name). Here are 30 of the biggest things we’re wondering.

1. So … we’re back to numbers?
Promoting 25, Adele told Zane Lowe, “I think this will be my last age one” — referring, of course, to her signature titling, following her albums 19 and 21. (The years refer to her age when starting the album, not when it comes out; she’s 33 now.) Yet if her upcoming album is titled 30, as she’s hinted via a billboard campaign, it seems that those titles may have been harder to ditch.
Though she may have alluded to why in the same interview. “I feel like the idea of calling albums after my age is showing a photograph almost of what’s going on in my life then and there,” she said. “I feel like not that much is going to change profoundly in me from now on in terms of how important eras of my life are to myself.”

2. But did she ever think about calling it Lady Gaga?
Adele also told Lowe her fourth album could be self-titled. But back in 2019, Lady Gaga seemed to beat her to the punch, (jokingly) tweeting, “I’m calling my next album ADELE.” Think Adele ever considered returning the favor?

3. What does Adele have up her sleeve to announce 30?
Sure, we’ve seen the billboards, but 30 still hasn’t officially been announced. When it comes to single and album announcements, Adele has tended to veer traditional — but she is, after all, a pop star. So should we expect a big social-media campaign? A massive debut event? Leveraging her new beau’s connections for an ESPN spot?

4. What did Adele have to do with the Facebook and Instagram shutdown?
Was that the beginning of the 30 rollout? Exhibit A:

5. What does “Easy on Me” mean?
Adele’s 21-second “Easy on Me” teaser clip includes zero seconds of vocals, leaving us to go wild wondering what the song is even about. Is it a breakup song asking a former lover to go easy on her, given the visual of her driving off with a packed trailer? Or is it about something bigger, like maybe the world going easy on her? Or maybe it’s just a message to stans to chill.

6. Will 30 be a divorce album?
The biggest change in Adele’s life since releasing 25 has been her 2019 divorce from Simon Konecki, after the couple had been together since 2011. Granted, she was 31 when they separated and filed for divorce. But could the queen of heartbreak have something more devastating than “Someone Like You” up her sleeve?

7. Is 30 the drum-and-bass record she promised?
This isn’t the first time we’re hearing of 30 — in fact, Adele referenced it in an Instagram post when she turned 31. “Bunch of fucking savages, 30 will be a drum n bass record to spite you,” she wrote, in a post about how “30 tried me so hard.” (Possibly an early “Easy on Me” clue.) An Adele club record? We would like to hear it (and see her put her moves to use)!

8. Who directed the “Easy on Me” video?
Adele doesn’t mess around when it comes to her visuals — “Rolling in the Deep” won the Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video, while “Hello” saw her working with Canadian luminary Xavier Dolan. The “Easy on Me” clip seems to carry over Dolan’s black-and-white “Hello” aesthetic, but Adele has also expressed a desire to work with Carol’s Todd Haynes, who does have some experience working on music projects. Anyway, in addition to the video, can her makeup artist please drop this winged eyeliner tutorial?

9. What happened to expecting her album in September … 2020?
Way back in February 2020, Adele told someone at a friend’s wedding to “expect my album in September.” On one hand, she could’ve just been messing with them, as she’s prone to do. On another, she could’ve gotten delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit a month later. But on a third hand, has she just been sitting on this the whole time?

10. So did she trick Lorne Michaels into booking her on Saturday Night Live in 2020?
Adele turned heads when she was booked as host, and not musical guest, on an October episode of SNL last year, weeks after that alleged release date came and went. Some fans, though, still held out that she might have a crumb of album news to promote on the show. Nope! “My album’s still not finished,” she admitted, live on television on October 25, 2020. Guess Lorne really is just a big fan.

11. But why did Taylor Swift move her Red (Taylor’s Version) release date?
As rumors of Adele’s return continued to bubble last week, Taylor Swift announced that, supply chain be damned, her rerecorded Red (Taylor’s Version) would arrive a week ahead of schedule, on November 12. To some, it looked a little too obvious: Was Taylor making way for an Adele drop on November 19? They may not be on the same label (Swift is on Republic Records, under Universal Music Group; Adele is on XL Recordings and Columbia Records, under Sony Music Entertainment), but they are noted friends, and we know Swift looks out for her friends.

12. So what happened with that Taylor collab?
In July, a fan account suggested that Adele had actually been writing with Taylor Swift, reporting that the two registered a song called “Broken Hearts” with the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers. An E! News source promptly denied the rumor — but wouldn’t that be a convenient narrative for a musician trying to keep their upcoming album a secret? Plus, it’d be all the more reason for Swift to move her Red release date to not compete with an album featuring another one of her own songs.

13. And what about Beyoncé?
Around 25, Adele shot down rumours that she snubbed Beyoncé, one of her favorite musicians of all time, for a collaboration. Years later, Ryan Tedder alluded to a Beyoncé–Adele linkup, only to later cruelly clarify he was joking. Which all begs the question: Where did these rumors even come from? Was a Bey duet ever in the works? And if so, could it be hidden on 30, perhaps?

14. Will Adele get to be funny on 30?
Time and time again, Adele has made us laugh — just not on record, where her songs veer toward the serious(ly sad). There’s no evidence that’ll be changing on 30, but we can dream.

15. Will Adele rap on 30?
Because we know she has the bars.

16. Was a Skepta feature ever in the works?
And while we’re at it, did they actually date? Did they break up? The people (this writer) need to know!

17. Did any Skepta breakup songs make the album?
That is, of course, if they actually dated and broke up in the first place!

18. Has Rich Paul heard 30?
And when can we expect his and LeBron’s review? (And the ESPN 30 for 30, literally!)

19. Will Adele keep expanding her circle of collaborators?
25 found Adele working with a wider array of producers than ever, bringing pop giants like Max Martin and Greg Kurstin and more independent-minded producers like Danger Mouse and Ariel Rechtshaid into the fold, alongside her standbys like Paul Epworth and Ryan Tedder. How will the credits look this time: Will she finally write with a woman? Has Jack Antonoff gotten close to Adele?

20. Can we expect her son to pop up on a song?
Does Adele want to follow in Beyoncé’s footsteps and work with her own child? Adele’s son, Angelo, turns 9 days after “Easy on Me” comes out, meaning during the making of 30, he would’ve been around Blue Ivy’s age when she dropped a feature on “Brown Skin Girl.” Adele has said before she wants to keep her son out of the spotlight, but come on: How cute would this be?

21. Will 30 be Adele’s California album?
Another big change since 25: Adele now owns a home (well, three) in California, and apparently spends a good chunk of time there, given it’s where she filed for divorce. California — especially the ’60s and ’70s Laurel Canyon music scene, including performers like Joni Mitchell and Carole King — has been a prominent muse in pop over the past few years, from Lana del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell to Clairo’s Sling. Maybe Adele has been feeling similarly inspired.

22. Will she cover anything?
Adele has made covers a mainstay of her repertoire, tackling Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” on 19 and the Cure’s “Lovesong” on 21, along with songs like Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and Sam Cooke’s “That’s It, I Quit, I’m Movin’ On” live. 25, though, was her first album of fully original material, leaving 30 to either return to tradition or make that the new trend.

23. And who will take the challenge of covering new Adele music?
Because you just know someone will be up for it. 25 inspired renditions by everyone from Céline Dion to Wiz Khalifa. Think Lil Nas X is down for this challenge, too?

24. Will we be able to stream 30?
When she released 25, Adele made the gutsy decision not to put the album on streaming services right away. And it paid off, with the musician breaking the single-week American sales record for the Nielsen era in just three days. The world has only become more reliant on music streaming in the years since 25 — and Adele did eventually put the album on streaming months later — but if there were a pop star who could still successfully hold out from streaming in 2021, it might be her.

25. Will she break her sales record?
Speaking of which: What of that sales record? Adele sold 3.378 million copies of 25 in its first week, besting previous record-holders ‘N Sync (for 2000’s No Strings Attached) by nearly a million copies. The thought of breaking a record for pure album sales — that is, no streaming — in 2021 seems baffling, but then again, she did it once in 2015! And between the six-year wait for 30 and Adele’s popularity among Gen-X and boomer audiences, expect a good chunk of sales regardless.

26. What’s this about a TV special?
Sources told Vulture that, along with prepping to release new music, Adele has been shopping around a TV special. She did something similar around 25, airing concerts on NBC and the BBC; this time, the reported event could hit streaming or a network like CBS before the end of the year.

27. And we can expect Adele back on SNL, right?
Adele’s career broke in the U.S. thanks largely to her 2008 Saturday Night Live performance. Since then, she’s returned twice, as musical guest in 2015 and host in 2020. Given how down she is for sketches, and that producer Lorne Michaels is a fan, we can be pretty sure to see her back as a performer this year. And while she said last year she wouldn’t think about doing double duty as host and musical guest, could she have a change of heart this go-round?

28. Will she tour 30?
Adele faked fans out around 25, holding off on announcing a world tour only to later drop the news — and send over 10 million people scrambling for tickets. As that tour came to a close in 2017, though, Adele told fans in New Zealand that she’d thought about giving touring up. “I don’t know if I will ever tour again,” she said. Years (not to mention a pandemic shutdown) later, has she had a change of heart? Perhaps not, given a new report in Billboard that she’s plotting a 2022 Las Vegas residency, to be able to live somewhere consistent, spend time with her son, and be close to her L.A. home.

29. Will 30 be her Grammys three-peat?
No pressure, but if Adele’s 21 and 25 Grammy track record continues with 30, she could break a slew of records. Both of those albums won Album of the Year, and a third win would make Adele among the most-decorated performers in that category, alongside Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, and most recently, Taylor Swift. Adele could also be the second to win for three successive albums, after Stevie Wonder. But both times Adele won Album of the Year, she also took home Record and Song of the Year for singles off those albums, effectively sweeping the general categories (aside from Best New Artist, which she already won off 19). A third Record of the Year win would tie her with Paul Simon for the most among performers, while a third Song of the Year win (assuming she has a credit on the song) would give her the record for the most.

30. How much will we cry?
Oh, wait, we know this one! A lot.

30 Questions for Adele’s ‘30’