Somebody like you – Adele.

Ok so this is one of THE songs of the moment.  Worth taking a minute to have a look at how the chords fit together.  The chords for the verse and chorus are very similar:

Verse – A-c#m-f#m-D.

Chorus-A-  E-   f#m-D

Here is the sequence on a SeeChord chart of the verse:

SeeChord chart of Somebody like you by Adele

SeeChord chart

This is a lovely example of how to use relative minors effectively.  In my mind there are two ways of looking at this.  This first, and perhaps most conventional would be to say that the relative minor of A is f#m.  That would mean that the c#m chord is a way of using the strongest of all chord sequences, the falling fifth to get to the f#m chord.  The D chord then provides the IV-I (or plagal) cadence that is a feature of so many rock and pop songs.

However, there is another, slightly more intruiging way of seeing this sequence.  There is another minor chord that is closely related to A.  In fact all major chords have two relative minors.  In this case, the oter relative minor has been used, which is the c#minor chord.  It is easy to see how closely related A major and c#minor are by looking at the notes in each chord:

A Major: A   C#    E

c#minor:G# C#   E  (inversion)

So we could just as validly say that the jump from A major to c#minor is a relative minor jump.  This then leads nicely to the f#minor by a descending fifth.  Then the leap from f#m to D is another of these alternative relative minor jumps.

Here is the Seechord chart for the chorus:

Here the c#minor chord has been replaced by the E major.  A far more conservative choice, and the first time the V (5) chord has been heard.  This Dominant chord provides more of a sense of security, not only because it is a major chord, but also because it helps to establish the tonic, A major.  This reflects the lyrics, “Never mind I’ll find somebody like you” – bittersweet but optimistic.