Adele’s New Hit ‘Hello’ Accused of Plagiarizing Tom Waits’ ‘Martha’
Does Adele's massively popular new hit "Hello" borrow a little too heavily from the Tom Waits songbook?
That's the argument being made by a number of pundits and Waits fans, who — as NME notes — have accused "Hello" of bearing undue similarities to Waits' "Martha," a cut from his 1973 classic Closing Time. Given that both songs tell the story of an ex-lover unburdening past sorrows over the phone, it's perhaps understandable that a Waits fan might think of "Martha" while listening to "Hello," but some hear an outright case of musical theft.
As the Independent points out, the two songs don't sound alike and they don't have any lyrics in common — and as Ultimate Classic Rock contributor Annie Zaleski recently demonstrated, there are lots and lots of pop songs about phone conversations.
Still, while the accusations of plagiarism might leave a sting, Adele and her collaborator, Greg Kurstin, can take comfort in knowing they've achieved one of the goals she set for herself while writing material for her new album, 25. "She didn’t want to just go through and write a pop song with any particular formula. We talked about Tom Waits, and different storytellers like that," Kurstin told Entertainment Weekly. "I think that was the idea, that we wanted to do something that was very honest about where she was at right now, and she wanted to do something that was real and believable."
Check out "Hello" and "Martha" back-to-back below and judge for yourself.
Listen to Adele's 'Hello'
Listen to Tom Waits' 'Martha'
See Tom Waits and Other Rockers in the Top 100 Albums of the '80s