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Every Adele Song, Ranked

Pour some wine, grab a box of tissues and call your therapist before digging into our ranking of every officially released Adele song

Over just four albums, Adele has built the type of airtight canon other artists spend decades trying to achieve. She launched her career as a heartbroken teenager with 19 and is now in her thirties, digging deep into motherhood, love, regret and, of course, more heartbreak. She has written more modern pop standards than anyone else in her generation, each single becoming an instant classic.

It’s no easy feat choosing what makes for the best Adele song — there’s not a single dud in the bunch. This list includes every officially released song that she’s released as the lead artist, from her four albums and a few live records. We included a number of officially released covers she has done, as well as bonus tracks and rarities (though many are still not on streaming, dedicated fans have uploaded them to YouTube for everyone to enjoy). Only two songs are missing from the list (for now): 30 bonus tracks that are still best (and exclusively) heard on physical deluxe editions of the album.

For now, pour some wine, grab a box of tissues, and call your therapist: Here’s our official ranking of Adele’s songs.

From Rolling Stone US

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“Water Under the Bridge”

One of the only shames of Adele’s career is that this slice of pop heaven was not a massive hit. Featuring a slightly tropical riff that gives the track an Eighties soft-rock edge, Adele wants to know if her partner is in or out. She knows that their love is too strong to ignore, but the couple is at the precipice of either something great or their end. “Water Under the Bridge” would finally get its due six years after its release: The song went viral in November 2021 on TikTok when a creator mashed up audio of the chorus over a video of Megan Thee Stallion dancing to her single “Body,” prompting a dance challenge on the popular app. —B.S.

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“All I Ask”

This is Adele reaching for the majesty of transcendently pulpy Eighties ballads: Lionel Richie and Diana Ross’ “Endless Love,” Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack’s “Tonight I Celebrate My Love,” Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin’s “Separate Lives.” Of course, those were all duets; in typical powerhouse fashion, Adele handles all the drama herself, including the requisite key change in the song’s final minute. (Bruno Mars co-wrote the track and has also performed an impressive version for BBC’s Live Lounge.) Adele is scraping the bottom of the emotional barrel again, worried she’s staring down a future of lonely dinners and empty beds. She pleads for one final moment of comfort before she’s thrown to the wolves: “If this is my last night with you/Hold me like I’m more than just a friend.” —E.L.

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“To Be Loved”

The instant you hear the intro of “To Be Loved” — the haunting breathiness of Adele’s powerhouse vocals over trickling piano keys — it evokes an homage to Whitney Houston’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You.” Right then and there, you know you’re about to be hit with the ultimate tear-jerker. Co-written and co-produced by Tobias Jesso Jr., the song, which touts self-acceptance and accountability, is quintessential Adele: wistful, wise beyond its years, and flanked by a belted chorus that gives you chills. “To be loved and love at the highest count/ Means to lose all the things I can’t live without,” Adele vulnerably concedes. It’s a powerful moment of both growth and resignation — of someone ready for their next chapter. —I.K.

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“Make You Feel My Love”

“Make You Feel My Love” is the only song on Adele’s debut album that she hadn’t written herself. After spending the entire record attempting to make sense of this tumultuous relationship she’d just gotten out of, the person who seemed to know just what to say was Bob Dylan. The warmth of Adele’s tone softens an already saccharine string of lyrics placed carefully over a bed of strings. It centers an unsuspecting listener in the audience at a softly lit performance space, where she shines with the arresting essence of a natural spotlight. Plenty of other artists have tried the song on for size, but none quite like Adele. —L.P.

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“Love in the Dark”

The idea of being on the receiving end of a damning breakup record where Adele rages on about just how much she’ll be missed once she’s gone is mortifying enough, but the kindness and candor she wields to end a relationship on “Love in the Dark” is somehow even more distressing. From the pleading in “Please don’t fall apart, I can’t face your breaking heart” to the insistence in “I’m trying to be brave, stop asking me to stay,” it isn’t a record that points fingers or allocates blame. Sometimes it just doesn’t work. And if there’s one thing we know about Adele, it’s that given the option to either remain stagnant for the comfort of anyone else or break free for the sake of what’s best for herself, she’ll always choose the latter. —L.P.

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“Chasing Pavements”

The song that established Adele, leading to her first Grammy, came from a typically emotional place involving a wayward boyfriend and the bar where he was hanging out. “I went to the pub and punched him in the face,” she told RS. “I got thrown out, and as I was running away, the phrase ‘chasing pavements’ came to me.” But in a sign of the way she instantly became heir to classic British pop chanteuses like Dusty Springfield and Petula Clark, Adele harnessed those inflamed, conflicting emotions and transformed them into sublime pop. The ache in her voice, especially in the choruses, is enough to make you track down that dude and punch him out yourself. —D.B.

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“Rumour Has It”

Clobbering drums drive “Rumor Has It,” a story of backstabbing and betrayal where Adele sends scathing blasts at an ex and his new romantic interest. This is one of the most aggressive hits in the singer’s catalog, with a martial beat, gnashing guitars, and a series of hiccupping rasps in Adele’s voice that enhance the messiness she describes. No one comes off looking good — Adele and her ex are both “cold to the core,” the ex’s new lover is half his age and barely holding half his interest, and everyone is on the verge of leaving everyone else. But all’s fair in love and war: “Just ’cause I said it,” Adele sings, “don’t mean that I meant it.” —E.L.

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“Turning Tables”

The placement of “Turning Tables” in the opening three-song stretch of 21, just after “Rolling in the Deep” and “Rumour Has It,” feels something like Alice’s tumble through the rabbit hole into wonderland — except what awaits at the other end isn’t another grooving takedown. Instead, the song’s initially simple piano melody soars into a dramatic, orchestral performance of epic proportions. It’s a declaration of self-protection. When Adele writes her protagonist into a ghost roaming the graveyard of lost love under haunted skies, he’s no longer a problem she’s responsible for solving, especially not at the expense of herself: “I braved a hundred storms to leave you/As hard as you try, no, I will never be knocked down.” —L.P.