Seven songs to say hello – from Adele to Ice Cube

Adele’s Hello isn’t the kind you really want to hear.

Adele – Hello

Certainly not if you’re someone who’s recently dumped a partner. It’s the “Hello” that says: “Yeah, I’m fine. Just wanted a chat. Oh, and who’s that I saw going into your flat on Thursday night? No, I wasn’t outside. My friend saw you. OK, I was just walking past. My friend, er, lives on your street. Yeah, I’ve moved back. Why? Does that bother you? Does it matter that it’s 11 years since we split? Didn’t I matter to you AT ALL? You know I’ve been on Sertraline since you left me, don’t you?”

Lionel Richie – Hello

Lionel Richie offered the big daddy of greetings, the salutation that defined a generation – if you’re between 40 and 50, the very word “Hello” instantly summons a clay bust of a man with wet-look hair. For Lionel, “Hello” was less a word than a series of intertwining moods: pensive, optimistic, questioning. It would set in action a train of thought – “Is it me you’re looking for / ‘Cos I wonder who you are / And I wonder what you do / Are you somewhere feeling lonely / Or is someone loving you?” – that suggests Lionel is less lovelorn than stalkerish: to go from not knowing who someone is to speculating about their sex life in a matter of seconds is not the kind of thing you should do in public. Still, the public adored it: it was No 1 for what felt like most of 1984.

Oasis – Hello

This is the hello of someone who’s just woken up, and really isn’t quite sure where they are or how they got there. All they can manage is a series of asinine, faux-profound observations – “Nobody ever mentions the weather can make or break your day” – which makes it, pretty much, an archetypal Noel Gallagher lyric. Only at the end do you get the sense our hero has realised he’s in his own bed, but with his head at the wrong end and a traffic cone superglued to the ceiling. He can have his cup of tea and observe, finally, that it’s good to be back.

The Beloved – Hello

Wow! No one told me the world could be like this! Everyone, I love you! It’s 1989, Jon Marsh from the Beloved has just dropped ecstasy and he wants the world to know that he embraces every single part of it, even if an hour earlier he wouldn’t have given the time of day to the people crossing his path. So greetings are sent to, among others, Tommy Cannon, Bobby Ball, Little Richard, Little Nell, Salman Rushdie, voice-of-many-a-house-hit Kim Mazelle, Mork and Mindy, local radio phone-in host Brian Hayes, Barry Humphries, Inner City singer Paris Grey, Brookside ne’er-do-well Billy Corkhill, former Crystal Palace and Leeds midfielder Vince Hilaire, ‘Freddie’ Flintstone, Fred Astaire, Charlie Parker, Charlie Brown, Private Eye’s spoof Telegraph reader Sir Bufton Tufton, Jean-Paul Sartre, Zippy, Bungle, Jeffrey Archer, André Previn and the LSO. Which would be the world’s most eclectic house party, at any rate, albeit one that would leave Marsh with his head in his hands once his E wore off.

Evanescence – Hello

A hello that sounds awfully like a goodbye. Never knowingly cheerful latter-day goths Evanescence bring out the piano and singer Amy Lee adds the lolz: “Has no one told you she’s not breathing? / Hello, I am your mind giving you someone to talk to.” Oh gosh. Don’t expect Evanescence downstairs for their tea because THE WORLD IS COMPLETELY UNFAIR AND YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND. At least, not until they’re really hungry and realise: “Suddenly I know I’m not sleeping. Hello, I’m still here.” That’s good – the casserole’s in the oven. Help yourself. Then put the pot in the dishwasher, eh?

Beyoncé – Hello

For Beyoncé, “hello” is a word that shows how down to earth she is. You don’t need to buy a diamond key to unlock her heart, you know. In fact, in what might be the most unappealing expression of romance ever set to song, she suggests: “Never would I let my hustle / Come between me and my family time.” Well, let’s be honest, Beyoncé, only the very unhappy and the faintly psychotic actively prefer being in the office to being at home. But this is a woman who’s never once phoned in from the sofa, with the second series of Father Ted playing on Netflix, to claim she’s got a bit of a tummy upset. And that’s mainly because, as she reveals in the chorus, she’s been watching (and presumably getting her ideas about love from) Four Weddings and a Funeral: “You had me at hello.”

Ice Cube – Hello

And it’s full circle, back to another “Hello” you really don’t want addressed to you, because you rather sense it’s not going to be followed by an offer of a coffee and a flapjack in Pret. Ice Cube, you see, “started this gangsta shit” and even if he’s not going to lay any other gangsta shit on you, he and his friends are going to boringly and lengthily insist on their heterosexuality to you: “The incredible, heterosexual, credible, beg a ho, let it go, dick ain’t edible,” insists Ice Cube, in the manner of a man who has consulted his Larousse Gastronomique and found no instructions for dick soufflé. MC Ren meanwhile, is “makin’ niggas clear the room like a dyke fleein’ dick”. No, Ren, the lesbian isn’t running away from you because she’s afraid of your penis …

Powered by article was written by Michael Hann, for on Friday 23rd October 2015 14.10 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010