Hello vs. Hotline Bling

Hello vs Hotline Bling by krin.jpg

Date Aired
December 25, 2015
Running Time
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Todd plays "Hello" on the piano...


Holds it...


...and plays "Hotline Bling".

A pop song(s) review

Todd: I think I've said this before, but music is not here to satisfy your most positive emotions or your most noble impulses.

Clip of Dionne and Friends - "That's What Friends Are For"

Todd (VO): I mean, nothing wrong with that, I like positive messages. You know, "heal the world, make it a better place," fine, whatever. But that's not all there is. Sometimes...

Todd: ...you need songs that say...

Clip of Body Count - "Cop Killer"

Todd (VO): ...every terrible thought you've ever had. "I don't like this song 'cause it sends a bad message."

Todd: Damn right, it does. That's why I like it. I mean, you're not wrong.

Clip of "Rumor Has It"
Adele: ...write this as a bit of a "fuck you," and...

Todd (VO): Which brings us to today's episode, where we'll be looking at two of the biggest hits right now from two of the biggest, most defining superstars of the 2010s: [pictures of...] Drake and Adele.

Clip of "Worst Behavior"
Drake: I'm on my worst behavior

Todd (VO): Now, you wouldn't think the two have that much in common. One's a white chick, one's a black guy; [Clips of "Hometown Glory"...] one's a retro jazz-soul singer from England, [..."The Motto" ft. Lil Wayne and Tyga...] one's a preening male hip-hop superstar from Canada, which still sounds wrong; [..."Chasing Pavements"...] Adele hasn't anything in four years and considered leaving music entirely, [..."Energy"...] Drake drops another mix tape every three months or so; [..."Set Fire to the Rain" live at the Royal Albert Hall...] Adele is classy and well-respected, [...and "Started from the Bottom"] Drake constantly seems like he's about to become a complete joke forever.

Todd: But despite all that, they have one major thing in common.

Clips of "Rolling in the Deep" and "Marvin's Room"

Todd (VO): They have both made some great music out of depicting themselves in the worst light possible.

Todd: And by what appears to be coincidence...

Videos for "Hello" and "Hotline Bling"

Todd (VO): ...both have huge hits right now based around the same thing: bugging their exes, who they are both clearly not even close to getting over. So yeah, I'm doing this as another joint episode, because of those parallels. But also for another reason.

Todd: I have this theory that both of these songs are about each other.

Drake: Used to call me on my cell phone
Adele: I must have called a thousand times

Todd (VO): I believe that Adele and Drake dated, broke up, and then wrote songs about each other. They've kept that relationship on the down-low obviously, but it must have happened. Listen to this.

Adele: There's such a difference between us
Drake: ...you, you, you
You and me we just don't get along
Adele: I've been California dreaming
Drake: Running out of pages in your passport
Adele: ...I'm sorry for breaking your heart
Drake: You made me feel like I did you wrong

Todd: See? It just makes too much sense!

Adele: Did you ever make it out of that town where nothing happened

Todd (VO): I mean, think about it. Where's Drake from? Canada, right? That's full of towns where nothing ever happens.

Todd: Er...no, wait, he's from Toronto, isn't he? [Clip of Rob Ford, the infamous ex-mayor of Toronto] I guess some stuff does happen there.

Todd (VO): And I'll admit, maybe I'm wrong about this, but if I am, then...

Todd: ...we should all do our best to try and make this happen.

Todd (VO): Drake and Adele should date, then break up.

Todd: We'd get some amazing music out of that.

Drake: Since I left the city, you, you, you

Todd (VO): Let's compare these songs. To put it mildly, Adele and Drake approach the subject completely differently, starting right with the title.

Adele: Hello

Todd (VO): Adele's song is titled "Hello"—short, simple, austere.

Drake's is titled "Hotline Bling."

Todd: Complete gibberish.

Drake: I know when that hotline bling
That can only mean one thing

Todd (VO): Okay, let me explain here. "Hotline bling" is a reference to his phone ringing. Apparently, his ex used to call him up for late night hookups, so there. His hotline is blinging.

Todd: Now, already, we have several questions.

Todd (VO): First off, wait, "bling" means phone call now? And the answer is no.

Todd: No, it doesn't. "Bling" is this sound. [Brief clip from Busta Rhymes - "Break Ya Neck," with everyone flashing their grills, punctuated by a ding sound.] It doesn't have anything to do with phones. Well...

Todd (VO): ...maybe it does now. I mean, the song is a huge hit, so...yeah, I guess we're all just gonna roll with it, somehow ignore the fact that Drake...

Todd: ...sounds like your mom trying to be cool.

[Picture of mom flashing gang signs with embarrassed teen in background]
Honey, Jeremy's blinging you on your phone.
Mom, that's not what that means! God!

Drake: I know when that hotline bling

Todd (VO): Secondly, wait, he has a hotline? Is...is it an 800 number? I'd like to think like it's this [brief clip from Batman] special dedicated line, like the Batphone, just for booty calls.

Todd: Zounds, Robin! To the Drakemobile! [Batman-style transition, with Drake's head pasted over] Clearly...

Todd (VO): ...he just wanted to sing something besides "phone ring," so he picked two random, vaguely related replacements. Drake was probably one rewrite away from renaming the song [words appear on screen] "Rotary Dial Honk."

Adele: [on phone] Hello? Can you hear me now?

Todd (VO): Phone calls play a big part in the Adele song also.

Adele: Hello, it's me

Todd (VO): Rather than moping about not getting called, Adele has proactively been calling him. Of course, Adele keeps it much classier, obviously, and appears to know what words mean.

Adele: They say that time's supposed to heal you
But I ain't done much healing
Hello from the other side

Todd (VO): See, isn't that poetic and dramatic and heartbreaking? And yet...

Todd: ...I don't know, there's...

Todd (VO): ...something about this that doesn't quite connect with me here like her other songs. For one thing, this is a song about showing up out of nowhere into an ex's life and tossing a bucket of feelings on him. She's...

Todd: ...mined this topic before.

Clip of...
Adele: I heard...

Todd (VO): Yes, "Hello" is a bit of a retread of one of her biggest hits, "Someone Like You."

Adele: I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited
But I...

Todd (VO): That song captures a bunch of tangled emotions, and I loved it.

Todd: But let's be clear here.

Todd (VO): Adele intentionally wrote that song to be the bad guy. "Someone Like You" is about her showed up unannounced, dropping a drama bomb, and then immediately stomping out again.

Todd: I'm not sure this is a trick you can pull twice.

Adele: I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet
To go over everything

*BUZZER* NO! No, I don't. god, no

Todd (VO): Like, once, I'd get that.

Todd: Breakups are painful.

Todd (VO): But I'm not sure I can relate to this if it's years later and she's still doing this. It's clearly written about the same guy, and years have passed, Literally in the song, years. At that point...

Todd: ...just let the dude live his life.

Adele: Hello from the outside

Todd (VO): Personally, I like to think that she's literally outside his house yelling "hello!" for years on end, and he's just closed the curtains and tried to ignore her.

Adele: But when I call
You never seem to be home

Todd (VO): Your attempts to vent your feelings over a long-dead relationship aren't being answered?! Gosh, I wonder why!

Todd: Let's think hard about this. [Gasp!] He's been kidnapped! Quick, to the Drakemobile!

Drake/Batman transition
Drake: You and me, we just don't get along

Todd (VO): Like Adele, Drake has also already made songs about this topic. A lot of them. "Hotline Bling" is about him feeling the sting of the breakup while his ex seems to have moved on, and more importantly, become a hard partier instead of the, quote, "good girl" she once was. It's like every Drake song rolled into one.

Todd: Now, the first few times I heard this song, I considered it basically indefensible.

Todd (VO): I think I've softened on that a bit. I mean, when did I become too good to listen to songs about being a bitter, emotionally crippled douchebag? Psshh! No, I can't pretend that doesn't...

Todd: ...strike a chord with me at least a little. [beat] But seriously, is Drake the stupidest man on Earth or what?!

Todd (VO): Like I said, this is reminiscent of, like, hundreds of previous Drake songs. But the song it reminds me most of [clip of...] is "Marvin's Room"—the song where he drunk-dials an ex and makes an ass of himself.

Drake: Fuck that n**ga that you love so bad

Todd (VO): Despite only barely even qualifying as a song, I liked it a lot. Yes, it is an absolutely humiliating piece of music to have written and to even listen to. But I admire the gutsiness of an artist willingly allowing himself to look that dumb.

Todd: "Hotline Bling" is...

Todd (VO): ...just as embarrassing, except Drake doesn't seem to realize it. Literally every speck of self-awareness is gone.

Drake: Ever since I left the city
You started wearing less and goin' out more

Todd (VO): Like, the plot of it is that he's stalking his ex on Instagram, and apparently doesn't like what he sees.

Drake: ...got a reputation for yourself now
Going places where you don't belong

Todd (VO): "Where you don't belong"?!

Todd just sits there...

An animated slide with the text "GO FUCK YOURSELF with a garden rake!" is displayed, while patriotic music plays in the background

Todd (VO): Who the hell do you think you are that you think you can say that?! Go eat a dick!

Drake: Why you always touching road
Used to always stay at home, be a good girl

Todd: I have a lot of questions about how Drake defines "good girl."

Todd (VO): It appears to be 1., has sex with Drake, 2., does literally nothing else. Not only does it make this song repulsive, it also makes me like his other songs less.

Clips of...
Drake: 'Cause you're a good girl and you know it

Todd (VO): "Hold On We're Going Home" has the best music a Drake song will ever have, but it will never not sound...

Todd: ...creepy and condescending to me, especially now.


Todd (VO): It also makes me wonder about "Take Care" a little, which is also about a party girl with a bad reputation, but he's quick to insist that he doesn't care about that, it's not a thing.

Drake: ...a life with no fun? Please don’t be so ashamed

Todd (VO): So either he's a goddamn liar, or in three years, he's somehow become...

Todd: ...stupider!

Drake: Running out of pages in your passport
Hanging with some girls I've never seen before

Todd (VO): What has become of my fair maiden? My heart breaks for her.

Todd: She's traveling the world and enjoying herself! Oh, Caroline, no! I swear to God, it's like [picture from The Office of...] Michael Scott wrote this!

Drake: Why you always touching road
Used to always stay at home, be a good girl
You was in a zone

Todd (VO): "In the zone"? By not going out?! How?! I mean, it's a Saturday night as a record this. I didn't even realize it, but...

Todd: ...apparently, I am just absolutely crushing it right now! [Raising the roof] Saturday night at home! I am [promo pic of...] binge-watching Agents of SHIELD later. I have no plans to interact with society! [Pause] Why do I not feel in the zone, Drake?

Todd (VO): Like I said, I've given Drake a lot of leeway to be a dipshit on record, but there is a line, and he is way past it. And keep in mind that...

Todd: ...while Adele is nowhere near as bad, that doesn't mean "Hello" isn't exactly as self-serving.

Adele: At least I can say that I've tried
To tell you I'm sorry for breaking your heart
But it don't matter, it clearly doesn't tear you apart anymore

Todd (VO): Adele? Ma'am? Miss Adele?

Todd: I'm gonna be straight with you. This apology blows.

Adele: ...clearly doesn't tear you apart anymore

Todd (VO): I mean, jeez, try not to sound so disappointed that he's not miserable. If you can't apologize without a passive-aggressive guilt trip in there...

Todd: ...maybe just butt out instead.

Adele: At least I can say that I've tried

Todd (VO): It's...it's one of the sad realizations of adulthood that sometimes, no one needs you to apologize.

Todd: Even if you did something real, real bad. Sometimes apologizing just makes it worse.

Cut to Todd on the phone
Todd: Hey, uh, Rap Critic. Remember that prank I pulled at MAGFest, where I stole your stuff out of your hotel room, [starts to laugh] and I set it on fire, and there were, like, all these letters and photos from your grandparents in there. [Laugh] Oh, man, I am so sorry. I was way out of line, and I...[laugh] sorry. Sorry, I was just thinking about it again.

Todd: But like I said, Adele's allowed to...

Todd (VO): ...not be perfect. That's...that's not really the problem I have with this song. I think mostly, what it is is...

Todd: ...that there just aren't any surprises in it.

Todd (VO): It's exactly what you'd expect from an Adele song. It's...it's all just kind of predictable. In fact, kind of...

Todd: Wait a minute. [Plays and sings] Hello from the [whistles] Huh. [It's that bar and hook again] Pop song chords—you know the drill!

Eh, I don't know.

Todd (VO): I guess predictability isn't the worst thing either. I mean, this isn't a bad song by any means. Sometimes it's best to stick to what works, 'cause you change one thing, then you have to change another thing to make it work, then you have to move everything...

Todd: ...to another corner of the room so that it fits, and before you know it, you're facing to the right again, and everything feels completely wrong! [Sigh]

Todd (VO): But if we're just judging by the music, honestly, I think I prefer "Hotline Bling." And I know that, as a critic, I'm not very good at describing the way music sounds, but I'm trying my best here to describe that special quality that gives "Hotline Bling" its edge.

Todd: Uh...Drake kinda sounds like ass.

Drake: Ever since I left the city, you

Todd (VO): Only kinda, but yeah. Drake has put in better vocal performances. Maybe he forgot to warm up, or maybe this is just what he sounds like without Auto-Tune. The beat kinda sounds like it's coming from a hotel lounge drum machine.

Todd: But I like that, it catches you off-guard. We need music that doesn't sound perfect. I mean, I assume this is why so many music critics are fawning over [clip of "Trap Queen" by...] Fetty Wap, who sounds like a broken muffler. I mean, I tried to like him, I really have. No. I guess Drake's in the Goldilocks zone for me. [Clips of "Hello"...] Too pretty, [..."Trap Queen"...] not pretty enough, [...and "Hotline Bling"] just right.

So together, I don't know which one I prefer.

Todd (VO): "Hello" doesn't make me as annoyed as "Hotline Bling," but the music just isn't as good. I think I have the same problem with Adele as I do with Mumford & Sons. It's not like they've ever released anything bad, it just [clip of "Rolling in the Deep"] the song that made them big was so good that I don't know if they'll ever really come close.

And as for them dating each other...okay, fine, that's probably not gonna happen.

Todd: But if they ever do wanna date other pop stars, I do have suggestions for them. Drake needs to date...

Clips of "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" by...

Todd (VO): ...Beyonce, because if he ever starts getting pissy about her having fun without him, she'll smack that shit down immediately.

Todd: And as for Adele...I don't know, maybe she should date...

...and "Sorry" performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon by...

Todd (VO): ...Justin Bieber 'cause they have so much in common; specifically, they both suck at apologizing.

Justin: 'Cause I'm missing more than just your body

Todd: Yeah, see? They'd be perfect for each other. We could give them couple names like Drakeyonce or Biebdele. God, why doesn't everybody come to me for dating advice?

Gets up and leaves

Videos end

Closing Tag Song: Lady Gaga ft. Beyonce - "Telephone"

"Hello" is owned by XL Recordings
"Hotline Bling" is owned by Cash Money Records
This video is owned by me


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