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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, Adele 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.
In the initial stage of the album's production Rubin had signed on as its sole producer, and was scheduled to produce all of its songs.
The demos she had recorded with Epworth, Smith, and Tedder (including "Rolling in the Deep" and "Set Fire to the Rain") were subsequently rerecorded by Rubin when she met with him in his Shangri-La Studio in Malibu, California in April 2010.
Adele collaborated with various songwriters and producers, including Columbia Records co-president Rick Rubin, Paul Epworth, Ryan Tedder, Jim Abbiss, and Dan Wilson.
Composed in the aftermath of the singer's separation from her partner, the album typifies the near dormant tradition of the confessional singer-songwriter in its exploration of heartbreak, self-examination, and forgiveness.
After the two had created the demo, Adele revisited her co-writer to record the song with him, instead of the intended producer Rick Rubin.
Smith thought Adele's first attempt superior to subsequent takes, and used the demo as the final production of the song, complete with live drum sounds and an elaborate strings section (arranged by British musician Rosie Danvers).
Adele began writing 21 in April 2009, when still involved in the relationship that subsequently inspired the record.
Dissatisfied with once again portraying herself as the musical tragedian of her debut, she had intended to compose a more upbeat and contemporary follow-up.
However, studio sessions ended prematurely due to a lack of inspiration.