For her 21 album, Adele wrote three songs in collaboration with Dan Wilson. A Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, Wilson was previously known for co-writing Dixie Chicks’ hit Not Ready to Make Nice as well as being the leader of Semisonic. Out of the three collaborations, only Someone like You was released as a single, scoring Adele her second number one.
The difference between this and her previous success, Rolling in the Deep, was explained by Adele in an interview with Digital Spy: “When I was writing it I was feeling pretty miserable and pretty lonely, which I guess kind of contradicts Rolling in the Deep. Whereas that was about me saying, ‘I’m going to be fine without you’, this is me on my knees really.” She also emphasized this change in attitude to MTV: “Well, I wrote that song because I was exhausted from being such a bitch, with Rolling in the Deep or Rumor Has It. I was really emotionally drained from the way I was portraying him, because even though I’m very bitter and regret some parts of it, he’s still the most important person that’s ever been in my life, and Someone Like You, I had to write it to feel OK with myself and OK with the two years I spent with him. And when I did it, I felt so freed.”
The song’s arrangement is more simplistic than the rest of the album, featuring nothing but Dan Wilson’s piano playing and Adele’s singing. Pitchfork called the piano line slow and mournful while addressing much of the praise in the direction of Adele’s voice: “…we get Adele’s furious tornado of a voice, an instrument that here, heard in its undiluted form, absolutely blasts away the Amy Winehouse comparisons.” Pop Matters echoed these sentiments, stating that Someone like You features Adele’s “finest vocal showcase to date”. At the 54th edition of the annual Grammy Awards, the song won the Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance. Someone like You also came at #3 in a public-voting poll made by Official Charts Company regarding the best UK number ones of all-time.
Someone like You spent 5 non-consecutive weeks at number one in Billboard Top 100, first time being dethroned by Maroon 5’s Moves like Jagger (featuring Christina Aguilera) and second by Rihanna’s We Found Love (featuring Calvin Harris).