I’m definitely not alone in having Adele’s newest music video for Oh my God on repeat since it dropped – Adele never fails to deliver in her music videos but for me something about this one was up a notch. Directed by Sam Brown, who also directed Rolling in the Deep, this video hooked me as a viewer from start to finish.
This video gives us everything we think of when we think of Adele; winged eyeliner, black and white, empty spaces. This time, however, we also have contemporary dancers, many versions of Adele in shot, a burning chair and some striking biblical references; essentially, we are in a modern day garden of eden.
We begin with an empty chair, only this time it has a very juicy looking apple on it. The immediate association when we see an apple is forbidden fruit; the garden of eden, and snow white’s poisonous apple. Adele is using it here to represent a relationship she shouldn’t jump in to – but the temptation is there.
The chair, which features heavily throughout the video, could represent an innocence – it is also an association we have with Adele, and could represent the version of her that isn’t sure in her decisions.
We pan over to the first version of Adele, who begins to sing. She is nonchalant as she sings at this point, her performance suggesting that the outcome of this temptation doesn’t bother her much, that she is above it. Her surroundings are mostly still, even when other people are involved – for example, a model/dancer draped behind her between two ladders. They are in one position, almost reminiscent of pieces of art. This “section” ends with a lingering shot of an upturned chair, surrounded by many apples; the toppled chair is symbolic of her failed relationship – but the apples show that the temptation to go back is still there.
As the song picks up, so does the pacing of both the camera movement and what’s happening in the foreground and background. The amount of people surrounding Adele increases, the amount of different activities happening and also the amount of times we’re seeing Adele herself. There is now a chair spinning, being held up by balloons, a chair covered in flowers, someone wearing long boots – reminiscent of the Lil Nas X boots from the Montero music video, and a shot that we linger on of a girl lying down who looks like she’s emptied the contents of her purse on the floor.
As we reach the chorus we now have two Adele’s singing in front of two very symmetrical circles of light. It looks like she’s singing to herself, slightly disgusted that she’s even considering going back to the temptation of this past relationship. As we come out of this we see the dancers are now jiving; this is a more traditional, maybe conservative style of dance. We immediately move on to Adele dressed in a gown that almost looks papal; this could be a commentary on religion versus society, and evolving eras of dance and sexuality.
In the midst of this chaos we are presented with a snake; this ties into the biblical aspect of temptation and directly connects to the apple we’ve been seeing. We also see a dancer pour gasoline on the chair and light it on fire; this could represent Adele moving on from previous relationships, or even previous versions of herself; she’s no stranger to singing on a chair in her videos for Rolling in the Deep, and Hello among others and some have even suggested this is an allusion to the various point of her relationship in these videos. I’ve seen the chair described as the next main character after Adele, and that statement definitely rings true.
Towards the end of the video Adele sings in front of a stationary horse with a rider on it; this horse could represent that she’s taking back the reigns of her own decisions and outcomes from them. This horse is also used to represent Adele’s strength in doing this, and how far she has come since the beginning of the video. She also sings with more conviction at this stage; she is more sure of her decisions and her reasons behind them at this point.
There is an interesting evolution of the styles of dance shown throughout the video; as it changes, it is a commentary on society and evolution of different eras. We begin a more traditional jive, which evolves through various forms of contemporary dance – at one point two contemporary dancers roll and twist gracefully on a mattress with clear sexual connotations.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this video for me was the camera movement. Throughout the video the camera doesn’t stop moving, and it is made to look like we are watching the scene unfold in front of us in one shot – although we know it is more as there are so many versions of Adele. It works really well in this case to draw us in for the whole story.
Towards the end the group of dancers dances in a more sensual way; tradition has been broken from where we began with the jive, and we have come to a much more modern interpretation of these themes. In the end we come back to the chair and the apple – this time she is biting into the apple, giving in to temptation but not looking too distraught about it.
Overall this video pushed the boundary so much more than anything I’ve seen from Adele and I can’t wait to see what she does next!
“Oh My God” is available to watch now on youtube.