Adele’s new song, Hello, is number 1 all over the world. But do you understand what she’s singing about?
Even if you do get the basic meaning, have you caught all of the interesting expressions that she uses?
And last, are you using music like this to help you improve your pronunciation and sound more like a native speaker?
If you answered NO to any of these questions, then you’re missing a great learning opportunity! But luckily I have a great lesson for you today! We’re going to learn with the world’s most popular song, Hello.
Here’s how to maximize your learning: (1) Listen to the song (especially if you’re not familiar with it), (2) Read the lyrics, (3) Check new vocabulary, expressions, and pronunciation below, (4) Take it to the next level improving your pronunciation with singing!
Music Video: Fast forward to 1:14 for the song.
(Vocabulary in blue, pronunciation in red, cultural notes + grammar in green)
Hello, it’s me
I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet
To go over everything
They say that time’s supposed to heal ya, but I ain’t done much healing
Hello, can you hear me?
I’m in California dreaming about who we used to be
When we were younger and free
I’ve forgotten how it felt before the world fell at our feet
There’s such a difference between us
And a million miles
Hello from the other side
I must’ve called a thousand times
To tell you I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done
But when I call you never seem to be home
Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I’ve tried
To tell you I’m sorry for breaking your heart
But it don’t matter, it clearly doesn’t tear you apart
Hello, how are you?
It’s so typical of me to talk about myself, I’m sorry
I hope that you’re well
Did you ever make it out of that town where nothing ever happened?
It’s no secret that the both of us
Are running out of time
Vocabulary + Expressions
Go over (something) – review, revise. Ex. Would you mind going over my essay and checking for mistakes?
Time heals all wounds – expression meaning that with time pain (especially emotional) disappears. Ex. Don’t worry, you’ll get over your ex-girlfriend, time heals all wounds.
Ain’t – This is slang for “is not.” It’s very common in colloquial English, even though it is grammatically incorrect. Ex. I ain’t going to go to his party, I’m too tired.
The world falls at one’s feet – (BrE.) to be extremely successful. Ex. The world fell at her feet after she acted in that movie.
At least – at the minimum. Ex. We might not be rich, but at least we have our health.
Break (sb’s) heart – to devastate someone emotionally, especially when in love. Ex. She broke my heart when she left me and moved to New York.
Tear (sb) apart – To cause someone many problems emotionally. Ex. Losing my job tore me apart.
Make it out – to escape Ex. They made it out of the building right before the explosion.
Run out of time – to have the time allotted to something end. Ex. We need to hurry up and get to the store before the sale ends, we’re running out of time!
(Note: Connected speech – a secret of native pronunciation is that often times we shrink and link our words. We do not always pronounce Every. Single. Word. And this is clearly exemplified in music.)
Time’s supposed to – Time zuh-pos-tuh
Ain’t – Ainh
Can – Kin (Learn more about pronunciation of can)
Used to be – Use-tuh be
Forgotten – for-gaw-din (Note: Adele is British, but sometime she uses an American T. Learn more here)
Between us – be-twee-nus
Called a thousand – call-duh thousand
That I’ve done – tha-dive dun
Matter – Ma-dur
Doesn’t – duzzin
Typical of me – typical-uh-me
That you’re – tha-chur
Did you ever – dih-ju ever
Out of that town – oudda-thah town
Cultural Notes + Grammar
Hello, it’s me – This is a very common way to greet on the telephone, showing that Adele is supposed to be talking to someone on the phone in this song. For a more casual conversation we might say, “Hi, it’s name.”.
It don’t matter – You might have noticed Adele didn’t conjugate correctly here. It’s very colloquial to say, ‘It don’t matter’ instead of ‘it doesn’t matter’. Native speakers DON’T always use correct grammar, so don’t feel bad if you make mistakes.
Improve your pronunciation
Music is an AMAZING way to improve your pronunciation, and Hello is a good song to mimic because of Adele’s clear pronunciation. The reason music is such a great tool to improve pronunciation is (1) Because it amplifies the natural flow of the spoken language, and (2) It forces us to exaggerate individual sounds when we sing, so we train the articulative muscles in our mouth to better pronounce them.
I’ve already given you a head start with the pronunciation tips in this article, but if you really want to take it to the next level, sing along with Adele every time you hear this song!