|Single by Adele|
|from the album 21|
|Released||5 November 2011|
|Recorded||2009; Sphere Studios (London)|
|Adele singles chronology|
"Turning Tables" is a song by English recording artist Adele and the last single from her second studio album, 21. Conceived after an altercation with her former lover, the song was co-written by Adele and singer-songwriter Ryan Tedder, whilst the production was completed by Jim Abbiss. "Turning Tables" is a pop ballad with a soulful sound; its instrumentation consists of piano, "Broadway-worthy" strings and guitar. Lyrically, the song describes a domestic dispute in which its narrator assumes a defensive stance against a manipulative ex-lover. XL Recordings sent the song to UK mainstream radio on 5 November 2011 as fifth single from 21 along with "Rumour Has It".
"Turning Tables" received acclaim from music critics, who praised Adele's vocals and its production. The song reached the top-twenty of the singles charts in four countries, including Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands. It also peaked at number 62 on the UK Singles Chart and 63 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for selling over 500,000 digital downloads. Adele performed "Turning Tables" on television shows such as Late Night with David Letterman in the US and The Jonathan Ross Show in the UK and included it on the Adele Live concert tour. American actress and singer Gwyneth Paltrow performed a cover of the single in the Glee episode "A Night of Neglect".
In April 2009, 20-year-old Adele, who had recently embarked on her first serious relationship with a man 10 years her senior, began composing the follow-up to her 2008 debut album 19. In response to the media's typecasting her as an "old soul" due to the vintage production and sentimental nature of her songs, Adele decided on a more upbeat and contemporary second album. However, studio sessions were generally unproductive and, after two weeks, yielded only one song recorded to the singer's satisfaction—the Jim Abbiss-produced "Take It All", a lovelorn piano ballad not unlike the songs on 19. Disillusioned with her lack of inspiration and the slow progress of the studio sessions, she cancelled the remaining recording dates. Adele had written "Take It All" during a difficult moment in her relationship. When she played the song for her boyfriend, the two got into a bitter argument that culminated in the end of their 18-month relationship. Heartbroken but musically stimulated, the singer channelled her rush of emotions into her music, crafting songs that examined her failed relationship from the perspectives of vengeful ex-lover, heartbroken victim, and nostalgic old flame. After several recording sessions with writers and producers like Paul Epworth, Fraser T Smith and Rick Rubin, Adele got enough material for creating a full LP. She released her second studio album on 19 January 2011 under the title 21. Adele first intended to title the album Rolling in the Deep, her adaptation of the slang phrase "roll deep", which summarises how she felt about her relationship; in her loose translation, the phrase refers to having someone "that has your back" and always supports you. However, the singer later deemed the title too confusing for some of her audiences. Although she had wanted to avoid the number motif of her debut, Adele considered "21" the most fitting title as it represented her age at the time of the album's composition, serving as an autobiographical period piece, and symbolised the personal maturity and artistic evolution since her debut.
Writing, production and release
"Turning Tables" was written by American singer-songwriter and frontman of pop-rock band OneRepublic, Ryan Tedder and Adele herself. The production of the song was helmed by Jim Abbiss. When the demos to two songs were completed, Adele approached Tedder, who was in London at the time for a radio show. Tedder had expressed interest in collaborating with the singer after they met at the 2009 Grammy Awards ceremony in February. He arrived four hours early to their first studio session held at Sphere Studios in London, buying time to better familiarise himself with some of her previous work. Although unaware of Adele's personal predicament, he composed the opening piano sequence and first few lines of "Turning Tables".
Coincidentally, it perfectly captured the experience of the singer, who arrived at the studio moments after another altercation with her former lover. Angry and unfocused, she denounced her ex-lover's tendency to "turn the tables" on her during their arguments, an expression that Tedder decided to reference in the song's lyrics. Adele recorded the demo with Abbis the following day. "Turning Tables" was mixed by Abbiss and Ian Dowling. Neil Cowley played the piano in the song, while the string arrangement was made by Chris Elliot. The strings were played by Patrick Kernan, Stephen Morris, Tom Pigott-Smith, Julian Leaper, Boguslaw Kostecki, Bruce White, Peter Lale, Rachel Stephanie Bolt, David Danels, Caroline Dale, Warren Zelnski, Jackie Shave, Chris Laurence, Rita Manning, Cathy Thompson, Emlyn Singleton and Chris Worsey. XL Recordings serviced the song to UK mainstream radio on 5 November 2011 as fifth single from 21 alongside "Rumour Has It". On 14 December 2011, the song was sent for airplay to Italian radio stations.
|Problems playing this file? See media help.|
"Turning Tables" is a pop ballad with a soulful sound that lasts for four minutes and 10 seconds. John Murphy of musicOMH recognized the single as a fragile piano ballad which shows off Adele's voice to its best effect. Sputnikmusic's Joseph Viney described the song as a delicate ballad that possesses an astonishing beauty. Its instrumentation consists of piano, "Broadway-worthy" strings and guitar. According to the digital sheet music published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, "Turning Tables" is written in the key of C minor and set in common time, with 78 beats per minute. Adele's vocal range spans from the low note of G3 to the high note of C5.
Lyrically, "Turning Tables" is a song of domestic dispute, where its narrator assumes a defensive stance against a manipulative ex-lover. Reconciling herself with the termination of a contentious relationship, she vows emotional distance to shield herself from future heartbreak. Bryan Boyd of The Irish Times likened the singer to 1980s Welsh rocker Bonnie Tyler in delivering the vocals with a mixture of anger, pain and pathos. According to Paste magazine, cinematic strings "serve as fitting counterpoint to [the song's] heartbroken, hollowed-out lyrics." "Turning Tables" opens with a piano sequence after which Adele sings the first lines: "Close enough to start a war/All that I have is on the floor". The chorus consists of the lyrics: "So I won’t let you close enough to hurt me, No, I won’t ask you, you to just desert me, I can't give you what you think you gave me, It’s time to say goodbye to turning tables."
"Turning Tables" received acclaim from music critics. Ian Walker of the website AbsolutePunk commented that the song "contains some of the album's greatest vocal moments, further cementing Adele's reputation as a competent vocalist showing no signs of stopping." A writer from the Daily Herald said that Adele sounds "epic" on the song. Entertainment Weekly 's Leah Greenblatt found a "scorned-woman balladry" in the song. Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune found a "piano-based melancholy" in the song. A reviewer of HauteThought wrote that "Adele's natural ease and original tone shines in Turning Tables. The song allows her to explore her upper register without ignoring the lower, soulful sound she always seems able create." Lily Moayeri stated that on the "barely contained 'Turning Tables', Adele lets forth her formidable lungpower." Ryan Reed of Paste called the single "tearjerking", while Margaret Wappler of Los Angeles Times labeled the song as "softly sentimental".
"Turning Tables" debuted at its peak of number 63 on the US Billboard Hot 100 for the issue dated 7 May 2011. The next week, the song dropped 21 places to number 85 and became the biggest fall of the week. The single stayed on the chart for total of three weeks and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for selling over 500,000 digital copies. As of May 2015 "Turning Tables" has sold 883,000 digital downloads in the US alone. On the Canadian Hot 100, the song debuted at number 60 for the issue dated 7 May 2011. It fell to number 91 the next week becoming the biggest fall of the week. "Turning Tables" was certified gold by Music Canada for selling over 40,000 digital copies of the song. In the UK, it entered the singles chart at its peak of number 62 on 14 May 2011. On 21 May 2011 "Turning Tables" dropped to number 80, before falling of the chart the next week. On 17 September 2011 the song re-entered the UK Singles Chart at number 68. It was more successful on Belgium Ultratip singles chart where it reached number two in Wallonia and number four in Flanders. "Turning Tables" debuted at number nine on the Italian Singles Chart on 19 January 2012. After three weeks on the chart, the song reached its peak of number eight on 16 February 2012.
Live performances and covers
Adele performed "Turning Tables" at Live at Largo in Los Angeles on 9 February 2011. Robie Daw of Idolator recognized the performance as "intimate" and commented that it featured Adele's soulful vocals simply accompanied by "haunting" piano chords. She performed the single on VH1 Unplugged on 3 March 2011. Adele performed the song at Late Night with David Letterman; the performance was later uploaded to her Vevo account on YouTube. On 4 September 2011, the singer performed "Turning Tables" at the premiere of the The Jonathan Ross Show and was also interviewed. "Turning Tables" was part of the set list on Adele's second concert tour entitled Adele Live (2011). On 22 November 2011, Adele unveiled a video of her performance of the song from the concert held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The performance was later included in her first video album Live at the Royal Albert Hall which was released on 25 November 2011. Adele described the concert as the most special show that she would ever play. Adele performed the song on 27 January 2012 at Live from the Artists Den. During the performance the singer stated: "Nothing in life moves me as much as being on stage does. I love the closeness of playing in small rooms, and this room was lovely and simple, just beautiful."
"Turning Tables" was covered by American actress and singer Gwyneth Paltrow, in the "A Night of Neglect" episode of the Fox Broadcasting Company television show Glee. Her performance of the song was considered inferior to the original. Erica Futterman of Rolling Stone named it her least-favorite of Paltrow's covers to date and said that her vocals "lacked the texture that made Adele's version so heartbreaking." Sandra Gonzalez of Entertainment Weekly gave it her lowest grade of the episode, a "B–", and Aly Semigran of MTV opined that while Paltrow is "a nice enough singer," she "in no way has the chops" the song requires. Whilst The Wall Street Journal's Raymund Flandez called it a "scene-stealing turn" and commended it visually and vocally, he noted that Paltrow lacks Adele's veracity. Released as a single, this version peaked at number 66 on US Billboard Hot 100 and Canadian Hot 100. As of 2 July 2012, the Glee version had sold 113,000 paid downloads in the US alone. Co-writer of the song Ryan Tedder performed the song at Denver's Acoustic Christmas (a charity concert hosted by all Colorado artists) with his band OneRepublic in 2011. 
Credits and personnel
Credits adapted from the liner notes of 21, XL Recordings.
|Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)||4|
|Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)||2|
|Canada (Canadian Hot 100)||60|
|Germany (Official German Charts)||85|
|Israel (Media Forest)||3|
|Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)||15|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||45|
|Scotland (Official Charts Company)||51|
|South Korea International Singles (Gaon)||62|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||62|
|US Billboard Hot 100||63|
|US Billboard Latin Pop Songs||38|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Gold||40,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||883,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
|United Kingdom||5 November 2011||Mainstream radio||XL Recordings|
|Italy||14 December 2011||Airplay|
- Reed, Ryan (22 February 2011). "Adele: 21". Paste (Wolfgang's Vault). Retrieved 14 September 2012.
- Still, Jennifer (23 February 2011). "Adele: 'Writing album broke my heart'". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi Médias. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
- Verrico, Lisa (9 January 2011). "Ready to join the A list. Interview: Feisty, fashionable and feted by the stars, Adele could be set for Amy-style success with her second album". The Sunday Times (London: News International). p. 22.
- Hare, Breeanna (24 February 2011). "Cover Story: Adele keeps old soul fresh". Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
- Collins, Leah (12 March 2011). "Another broken heart pays off: English singer Adele uses second breakup for equally emotional followup to debut album". Edmonton Journal (John Connolly). Archived from the original on 2 November 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
- McCormick, Neil (6 April 2011). "Adele: she’s stopped us in her tracks". The Daily Telegraph (London: Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- =Krajewski, Jill (19 May 2011). "Adele plays first arena gig at ACC". CanCulture. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
- Harmsworth, Andrei (23 February 2011). "Adele: Bitter break-up drove me to drink". Metro (London: Associated Newspapers). Retrieved 12 May 2011.
- Thrills, Adrian (20 January 2011). "'I'm a failure...that's why I sing': Never mind the hits, Adele reveals that she is fuelled by pain and insecurity". Daily Mail (London: Daily Mail and General Trust). Retrieved 1 May 2011.
- Mpubani, Raymond (23 April 2011). "This is what 21 years sound like". Daily Monitor (Kampala: Monitor Publications). Retrieved 29 April 2011.
- Jewell, Stephen (31 January 2011). "Adele Opens Up About the Relationship that Inspired Her New Album". BlackBook. Brett Wagner. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
- Staff (17 February 2011). "Adele on '21': 'The Songs on Here are the Most Articulate I've Ever Written'". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
- Adkins, Adele (1 November 2010). "Adele: I'm very excited, nervous, eager, anxious but chuffed to announce my new album!". Adele.tv. XL Recordings. Archived from the original on 24 April 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
- 21 (inlay cover). Adele. XL Recordings. 2011. p. 6.
- Adkins 2011, Interview: "Turning Tables"
- "The Adele Experience". M Magazine. PRS for Music. 22 December 2011. Archived from the original on 9 January 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
- "BBC – Radio 2 – Playlist – Week Commencing: 5 November 2011". BBC Radio 2. 5 November 2011. Archived from the original on 2 November 2011.
- "Adele – Turning Tables" (in Italian). Earone. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
- "Song of the day: Turning Tables - Adele". HauteThought. 23 February 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
- "21 by Adele". iTunes Store (US). Apple. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
- Murphy, John (24 January 2011). "Adele - 21". musicOMH. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
- Viney, Joseph (29 January 2011). "Adele - 21 (staff review)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- "Adele - Turning Tables". Musicnotes.com. Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
- McCormick, Neil (13 September 2011). "Adele – De Montfort hall, Leicester: review". The Daily Telegraph (London: Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 21 September 2011.
- Boyd, Bryan (14 January 2011). "Adele: CD of the Week, 21". The Irish Times (Dublin: Irish Times Trust). Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- Walker, Ian (8 April 2011). "Review: Adele 21". AbsolutePunk. AbsolutePunk, LLC/Buzz Media. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
- "Adele's second is personal and perfect". Daily Herald (Paddock Publications). 24 February 2011. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
- Greenblatt, Leah (9 February 2011). "Review: Adele, 21". Entertainment Weekly. Time division of Time Warner. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
- Kot, Greg (20 February 2011). "Adele: 21". Chicago Tribune (Tribune Company). Retrieved 4 May 2011.
- Moayeri, Lily (31 May 2011). "Adele: 21". Under the Radar. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- Wappler, Margaret (21 February 2011). "Album review: Adele's '21'". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- "Hot 100 - Biggest Jump". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media1. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- "Hot 100 - Biggest Fall". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- "Turning Tables - Adele". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- Trust, Gary (5 May 2015). "Ask Billboard: The Definitive List of Hit Fifth Singles". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
- "Canadian Hot 100 - Biggest Jump". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- "Canadian Hot 100 - Biggest Fall". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- "Adele - Turning Tables". ChartStats. Official Charts Company. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- "Ultratop.be – Adele – Turning Tables" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- "Ultratop.be – Adele – Turning Tables" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- Daw, Robie (9 February 2011). "Watch Adele Perform ’21′ Track 'Turning Tables' Live At Largo In Los Angeles". Idolator. Buzz Media. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- Wieselman, Jarett (2 March 2011). "Watch Adele perform 'Turning Tables' on VH1 Unplugged, premiering March 3". New York Post. News Corporation. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- Love, Ryan (17 June 2011). "Adele continues to dominate Irish album chart". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi Médias. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- Verse (4 September 2011). "Adele performs 'Turning Tables' on The Jonathan Ross Show + interview TV Catch-Up". SoulCulture. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- Herrero, Javier (2 April 2011). "2.500 Aplausos para Adele en su primera visita a Madrid en plena ebullición" [2,500 applaud Adele's first visit to Madrid in full swing]. ABC (in Spanish). Grupo Vocento. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- "Adele Unveils Live Video Of 'Turning Tables' From Royal Albert Hall". Capital FM. Global Radio. 22 November 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- Spielberg, Theo (27 January 2012). "Adele Performs 'Turning Tables' on 'Live From the Artists Den' -- Video Premiere". Spinner. AOL. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- Futterman, Erica (20 April 2011). "'Glee' Recap: The Long-Awaited, Utterly Predictable 'Night of Neglect'". Rolling Stone (Wenner Media). Archived from the original on 24 April 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- Gonzalez, Sandra (19 April 2011). "'Glee' recap: Holly Takes a Holiday". Entertainment Weekly (Time Inc.). Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- Semigran, Aly (20 April 2011). "'Glee' Recap: 'A Night of Neglect'". MTV. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- Flandez, Raymund (19 April 2011). "‘Glee,’ Season 2, Episode 17, ‘Night of Neglect’: TV Recap". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- "Weekly Chart Notes: Jon Secada 'Never Too Far Away' From AC - Or His Fans".
- "Denver's Acoustic Christmas- Ryan Tedder- Turning Tables". Nme.Com. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
- "Australian-charts.com – Adele – Turning Tables". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- "Officialcharts.de – Adele – Turning Tables". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- "Adele – Turning Tables Media Forest". Israeli Airplay Chart. Media Forest.
- "Adele - Turning Tables". Italian Singles Chart. Hung Medien. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
- "Nederlandse Top 40 – Adele search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- "Dutchcharts.nl – Adele – Turning Tables" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- "Archive Chart: 2011-05-08". Scottish Singles Top 40. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- "South Korea Gaon International Chart (Week: February 12, 2012 to February 18, 2012)". Gaon Chart. January 5, 2013. Retrieved January 5, 2013.
- "Archive Chart: 2011-05-08" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2012 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association.
- "Brazilian single certifications – Adele – Set Fire To The Rain" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- "Canadian single certifications – Adele – Turning Tables". Music Canada. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
- "Certificazione Single Digital dalla settimana 1 del 2009 alla settimana 20 del 2012" (PDF) (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- "American single certifications – Adele – Turning Tables". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 13 January 2015. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
- Adele - Turning Tables (Live at The Royal Albert Hall) at YouTube
- Adele - Turning Tables (Live on Letterman) at YouTube
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics