Adele’s “Chasing Pavements” Lyrics Meaning

The album “Chasing Pavements” is derived from, Adele’s debut project 19, is one that was largely inspired by her less-than-favorable relationship with a guy she was dating around that time. He was her first true love actually. 

As a matter of fact, the songstress wrote this particular piece the day after meeting this selfsame fellow. Yes, Adele and dude, according to her own words, ‘actually had this fight the first night they met’. So despite it perhaps having been a love-at-first-sight type of situation, obviously the signs were already there that she may have been in fact “chasing pavements” in this particular scenario.

Meaning of “Chasing Pavements”

The titular metaphor is meant to point to the idea of engaging in an endeavor in vain. And in this case said endeavor, as implied above, would be romance.

The lyrics do not necessarily give the impression that this relationship the singer is expounding on is a new one. Instead, they read more like she has been in it long enough to know that maybe it will ‘lead to nowhere’, i.e. end in disappointment. But as also implied above, Adele was more or less able to come to that conclusion after being with this guy for just one evening anyway.

But conclusively, the wording is non-descriptive enough to have a general applicability. In other words, they don’t come off as being about Adele per se but rather the ruminations of a lady who is trying to make an important decision. And that choice would be ‘should she give up’ on this relationship, or ‘should she just keep chasing pavements’, i.e. remain in it under the belief that things will change for the better, regardless of the fact that apparently there’s nothing currently indicating that it will.

Adele's "Chasing Pavements" Lyrics
Adele explains "Chasing Pavements"

When was “Chasing Pavements” released? Who wrote it?

“Chasing Pavements” is one of four singles that were released from Adele’s debut album, which is entitled 19

XL Records put this track out, which was written by Adele and Eg White, on 14 January 2008. And Eg White, a fellow musician from the UK, also produced the tune.


This song is the second single in Adele’s discography and was a mild hit on music charts compared to the standard she would set later in her career, though a notable success nonetheless. 

For instance, “Chasing Pavements” topped the UK Indie Chart. It also reached second place on the UK Singles Chart proper. Also, even though it just missed out on breaking the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100, the tune was still very well received stateside. For example, as with the United Kingdom, it achieved platinum certification in the US. 

But more importantly, it received three Grammy nominations in 2009. At the end of the day, it actually took home an award. It won the trophy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. In fact this track represented one of the first of the over a dozen Grammys Adele has won. (In 2009 she also received the Best New Artist award.) 

Indeed even though this track is far from the songstress’s greatest in terms of chart and certification showing, it is still considered amongst her very best as far as music critics are concerned.

Also by the looks of things, “Chasing Pavements” was in fact Adele’s breakthrough song. Her first single, “Hometown Glory” (2007), did quite well for itself also. But ultimately this one outperformed it in every area.

More Facts about “Chasing Pavements”

The music video to this track, which Matthew Cullen directed, was filmed in Adele’s hometown of London, England.

The first time Adele performed this song live was also when she debuted it. And that was on the 7 December 2007 edition of a British show called Friday Night with Jonathan Ross.

Another notable rendering of this tune came on 18 October 2008 via the popular American comedy-based variety show, Saturday Night Live. And what actually made that instance extra special is that Sarah Palin, then-Governor of Alaska who was concurrently campaigning for the US Vice Presidency under Presidential candidate Senator John McCain (1936-2018), also appeared on the show. This was just a couple of weeks prior to the 2008 US Presidential Election (which President Barack Obama ultimately won). Therefore, Palin’s presence on the show also lent to Adele getting more exposure stateside.

As an interesting side note, Adele’s aforementioned ex-boyfriend actually went as far as to sue her for royalties. He sued her because he inspired many of the tracks found on 19, an album which proved to be mega-successful itself. However, he apparently didn’t receive any type of payout.

Chasing Pavements

Is “Chasing Pavements” really about being gay or chasing after gay men?

When this song came out, no one really knew what the phrase “chasing pavements” meant. By virtue of this, some listeners in America came to their own conclusion that it was actually akin to Adele saying something like she was pursuing gay men. 

This notion even made it as far as to be published on the Urban Dictionary, which the songstress frequented. Also, it led to the tune actually being banned by some radio stations stateside. But upon learning of it, Adele promptly proceeded to shoot the notion down.

What Adele said of "Chasing Pavements"

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