Song lyric: Adele – Someone Like You

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Welcome

Hello and welcome to Learn English Vocabulary. My name is Jack and I’m making this podcast for you to learn or revise English vocabulary. 

These podcasts are graded from A2 which is around lower intermediate all the way to C2 which is advanced. 

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Introduction

Today, I’m going to look at some song lyrics. I think that song lyrics are a great way to improve your vocabulary because there’s something about music as a context that makes the language easier to remember. However, the language in songs is often really advanced and sometimes very difficult to understand even for a native speaking English teacher.

I was looking for an appropriate song and found myself on NPR Music – Tiny desk concerts which are amazing and saw a video of the British singer Adele from 2011. The first song she sings is from her second album 21 and is called Someone Like You. I will put a link to the video in the description for this podcast and on the page on Learn English Vocabulary. 

I’m going to talk about six pieces of vocabulary from the song. I’m not going to explain the meaning of the song, I think that with this vocabulary, the rest of the song is straightforward so if you listen to the song you will be able to understand it.

To settle down

OK. The first phrase I want to talk about is in the first line. 

I heard that you’re settled down. 

When I was first training to be a teacher, my trainer used this as an example of an expression that is rooted in British culture and many, but not all cultures. To settle down means to start living in a place where you intend to stay and perhaps raise a family. It is contrasted with the idea that when you are young, you might travel or try different things and be a bit wild. When you are a bit older and more mature, you might decide that it’s time to settle down. When Adele says that she’s heard that someone has settled down, it means that they have decided what and more importantly who they want to spend their life with. 

To hold back

The next phrase is interesting: to hold back. Adele sings: 

Ain’t like you to hold back. 

Adele is an amazing artist and she has two really different voices. When she sings, she sounds like a really classy American and when she talks, she sounds like, well, a really down to earth Londoner. I think she’d be more likely to say in’t like you than ain’t like you. But that’s not what I’m talking about. To hold back means to stop yourself from doing something or to stop yourself doing something as well as you can. So you might hold back something you could say in an argument because you think it might make things worse. Perhaps you’re playing chess against a child and you hold back to give them a chance to make the game more fun. If you think someone is holding back, it usually means you think they are not saying what they believe. Perhaps because they are afraid or perhaps because they don’t want to upset people. You might hear someone say ‘don’t hold back, tell me what you really think’ when they are asking for an honest opinion.

Out of the blue

The next phrase is ‘out of the blue’. I think that this is a shortened version of ‘out of the great blue yonder’. The great blue yonder is the sky. Yonder is an old fashioned word that means over there. So out of the blue means out of the sky which means surprisingly or unexpectedly. Adele sings: 

I hate to turn up out of the blue

This means that I hate to turn up, to come here or come to your place without giving you any notice, without telling you first. If someone turns up out of the blue, they arrive at your house or your workplace without calling you first.Other things can happen ‘out of the blue’. My friend called me out of the blue means my friend called me unexpectedly or surprisingly.

Time flies

The next phrase is used as  part of an interesting proverb as well as more generally. The phrase is time flies. This means that time passes surprisingly quickly. The proverb is time flies when you’re having fun. This is used when you’ve been doing something fun and not noticed the time passing. So perhaps you’re enjoying the company of friends and you look at your watch and it’s much later than you had expected. You might say – wow, it’s nearly midnight! Time flies when you’re having fun. 

Adele sings:

You know how the time flies

Only yesterday was the time of our lives

The time of our lives

This is the next phrase. The time of our lives. This is used to talk about the happiest time you remember, but not an isolated incident, usually a period of time, like when you were at school or university or even one season or summer holidays. You could say, the summer of 2015 was so much fun. We had the time of our lives. 

Bittersweet

OK, the last lyric I am going to talk about is this: 

Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?

The word I want to talk about is bittersweet. This is used to talk about an event or memory that is sad and happy at the same time. So imagine if you got a new job, but it meant moving away from your friends. You might say ‘I’m delighted with my new job, but this move will be bittersweet.’ I have been lucky enough to have taught English in some amazing places and every time I’ve moved on it has been bittersweet. Perhaps that’s why I like the word so much. 

Conclusion

OK. So there are 6 advanced phrases from the Adele song Someone Like You. I advise you to look up the rest of the lyrics and listen to the song and watch the performance on NPR Music – Tiny desk concerts or the official music video. I hope you have enjoyed this podcast and found it useful. 

If you have, please leave me a comment or a review. If you have any suggestions for other songs I could talk about, please let me know. Don’t forget that you can read the transcript for this podcast and complete some language activities on LearnEnglishVocabulary.co.uk.

Thanks for listening.

Test yourself

Listen to the song and type the missing lyrics into the gaps.

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