Song: “Someone Like You”

A classic that couldn't be improved after one of its first performances, despite multiple efforts

Song: “Someone Like You”

This remarkable Adele song is actually a demo. Adele and co-writer Dan Wilson spent two days in a studio with a piano and mic, and worked the song out. One of the takes was so good that it stood the test of time, serving as the closing track on the album 21 and released as a single — charting to #1 on both the US and UK charts — even after attempts to re-record the song with a band and then a full orchestra.

Wilson worried they were suffering from what he calls “demo-itis,” or the tendency to like the first version of a song.

Adele and Wilson didn’t know each other before got together to write this song. The album’s co-producer Rick Rubin paired them up.

Rubin was recently the subject of a 60 Minutes interview in which he admits to “barely” being able to play any instrument, and attributes his incredible run of success to a surprisingly simple formula:

The confidence that I have in my taste and my ability to express what I feel.

This taste and ability to articulate his impressions helped Rubin launch LL Cool J and the hip-hop record industry via his Def Jam Records. The list and variety of artists he has worked with since is dizzying — Public Enemy, Johnny Cash, The Cult, Tom Petty, Dixie Chicks, Metallica, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Linkin Park . . . you get the idea.

Adele’s live performance of “Someone Like You” at the 2011 BRIT Awards propelled the song up the UK charts, spread like wildfire on social media, and made Adele a household name. With her albums named after the age she’s reached at the time they’re recorded, it’s good to remember this comes from the album 21. (She was 22 or 23 here.) At this time in her life, she was known for her bawdy and hilarious monologues between songs. Those alone were worth the price of admission.  

Enjoy!