Rolling in the Deep – Adele

Hello and thanks for stopping by! On the blog this week: The amazing Adele and her brilliant but scathing hit Rolling in the Deep, with a bit of background to it and ideas for how to use it in class.

Background:

  • Adele Laurie Blue Adkins was born in 1988 in Tottenham, London, UK.
  • Released in 2011, this tune is from the critically-acclaimed album 21 – named after her age during its recording.
  • It won Record of the Year at the Grammys that same year.
  • Adele described this gospel disco hit in an interview with Spin magazine as: “It’s me saying, ‘Get the f*** out of my house’ instead of me begging him to come back” and its style could be described as gospel disco.

Why should you teach it?

Who hasn’t heard of and love Adele?! (Well, if not, then it could open up discussion as to who she is or why they don’t like her!)

She’s one of the greatest female vocalists of the 21st century (and a hilarious one – watch any interview of hers to hear her cackle in cheeky Cockney style!) Her hits are full of intense emotions which many people can relate to and this one is particularly catchy, but above all she has a huge fanbase around the world, making use of her tunes in the EFL classroom a must.

What can you do with it?

Grammar: The present continuous, the future tense with “will” and “going to” (or gonna – see Pronunciation), past simple, past modals and gerunds.

Vocabulary and Pronunciation: Many examples of language to talk about relationships, emotions, regret and revenge, sound and movement, and body parts (Beginners +). There are some fantastic phrasal verbs with “out”, “on”, “into” and “back” (Upper-Intermediate+) collocations (leave someone breathless, tears fall) idioms (count your blessings) and proverbs (reap what you sow) (Advanced) not to mention good examples of contractions, omitted lexis and slang in spoken English. You might also like to focus on the use of imagery, repetition and alliteration (higher levels).

What else?

You can get so many other activities out of this – From asking what they think the song is about and their opinion of it (all levels), to having them think about the before and after actions between the singer and the subject of the song, writing and acting out the break up conversation using their own ideas, or turn it into an unpredictable speed dating-style game where they need to act out the break-up and their partner needs to react to it in a certain way with given cards (Intermediate+). Students could also create a story about it or write to a problem page in a magazine (Beginners with lots of support/Pre-Intermediate+), reenact a face-to-face conversation with their best friend/a relative on what to do, or have them write an email or WhatsApp exchange (Beginners+). Why not explore and compare male and female perspectives, decisions and reactions? What did her ex do to make her write such a song? Where would Adele and her ex be now if they were still together? (Intermediate/Advanced) Students could hold a discussion or debate about the situation (Intermediate+). Can they give Adele any advice to help her move on from this painful break up (apart from writing songs!), or maybe her ex so that he treats his future partner better? (Intermediate+)

Behind the lyrics

  • There’s a fire starting in my heart/Reaching a fever pitch and it’s bringing me out the dark – Her blood pressure is rising because she is angry with her ex (in contrast to the love she once felt before he hurt her) and it’s reaching a climax. Repetition of this in line 8 helps show its escalation. She wants to tell him how she is feeling and warns that if he tries to hurt her more, she will seek revenge, is more than capable of doing so and he should not assume anything less.
  • Rolling in the deep – Adele explained the modern meaning of this expression in Rolling Stone magazine (apt!) – as opposed to the old-fashioned poetic one for what a ship out at sea does in the ocean –  as: “sort of my adaptation of a kind of slang, slur phrase in the UK called “roll deep,” which means to have someone, always have someone that has your back, and you’re never on your own, if you’re ever in trouble you’ve always got someone who’s going to come and help you fight it or whatever like that. And that’s how I felt in the relationship that the record’s about, especially “Rolling in the Deep.” That’s how I felt, you know, I thought that’s what I was always going to have, and um, it ended up not being the case.”
  • You had my heart inside of your hand but you played it to the beat/with a beating – She trusted him by allowing him into her life, but he let her down. Perhaps “beat” refers to a heartbeat, or he thought that she would deal with the break up by writing songs (which she was doing at the time) and even enjoyed this prospect.

The Lyrics (Copyright azlyrics.com) and the video here

There’s a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch, it’s bringing me out the dark
Finally I can see you crystal clear
[Clean version:] Go ‘head and sell me out and I’ll lay your ship bare
[Explicit version:] Go ‘head and sell me out and I’ll lay your shit bare
See how I leave with every piece of you
Don’t underestimate the things that I will do

There’s a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch
And it’s bringing me out the dark

The scars of your love remind me of us
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all
The scars of your love, they leave me breathless
I can’t help feeling
We could have had it all
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
Rolling in the deep
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
You had my heart inside of your hand
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
And you played it, to the beat
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)

Baby, I have no story to be told
But I’ve heard one on you
And I’m gonna make your head burn
Think of me in the depths of your despair
Make a home down there
As mine sure won’t be shared

(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
The scars of your love remind me of us
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
The scars of your love, they leave me breathless
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
I can’t help feeling
We could have had it all
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
Rolling in the deep
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
You had my heart inside of your hand
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
And you played it, to the beat
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
We could have had it all
Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside of your hand
But you played it, with a beating

Throw your soul through every open door (woah)
Count your blessings to find what you look for (woah)
Turn my sorrow into treasured gold (woah)
You’ll pay me back in kind and reap just what you sow (woah)
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
We could have had it all
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
We could have had it all
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
It all, it all, it all
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)

We could have had it all
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
Rolling in the deep
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
You had my heart inside of your hand
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
And you played it to the beat
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)

We could have had it all
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
Rolling in the deep
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
You had my heart inside of your hand
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)

But you played it
You played it
You played it
You played it to the beat.

Here’s a B2+ lesson plan I made earlier. Enjoy and be sure to let me know how it went in your classes!

 

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