It’s finally here! Last night, Queen Adele dropped “Hello,” the debut single from the singer’s forthcoming album 25, and her first new track since she was commissioned to write the theme for the 2012 James Bond flick Skyfall. There has been a lot of hype for this record—it’s a follow-up to 2011’s Grammy-sweeping 21, which also happens to be the highest-selling album of the past decade—without much more than a list of rumored collaborators to show for it. (Back in August, Billboard reported that Danger Mouse, Max Martin, Tobias Jesso Jr. and “Rumour Has It” songwriter Ryan Tedder had worked on new music with Adele; that story and a few online teases was all that fans had to go on.) But it’s real! In an open letter posted on Twitter earlier this week, the British songwriter apologized for the delay—she’s now 27, for what it’s worth—and described the emotional thrust behind the record:

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. But I haven’t got time to hold on to the crumbs of my past like I used to. What’s done is done. Turning 25 was a turning point for me, slap bang in the middle of my twenties. 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 without a removal van full of my old junk.

[...]

25 is about getting to know who I’ve become without realising. And I’m sorry it took so long, but you know, life happened.

“Hello” itself is a reminder of exactly why Adele so easily outsells her peers. It’s a heart-wrenching ballad about a woman who’s nostalgic for the not-so-distant past: She regrets the way things went down with an ex-lover and wants to apologize, but knows that too much time has passed for her to bother trying to fix it. It’s a soulful easy-listening jam with a thunderous hook—a classic Adele sing-along if ever there was one. Watch the video, which features Mack Wilds (!!!), below.

Adele’s 25 will be released on November 20th on XL/Columbia.


Screenshot from YouTube.