If you missed it, the new Adele album, 30, came out last week.

I sometimes lament the over-categorization of pop music. I remember everyone on earth (or at least everyone in my small town in Pennsylvania) gathering for the world premiere of Michael Jackson’s Thriller long-form music video. We all sat transfixed, losing our minds, by one guy in zombie makeup. Everyone I knew and their parents loved Michael Jackson. A bazillion hearts skipped a beat when he glided across the stage during that iconic performance of Billie Jean when he unveiled the moonwalk that etched itself in our collective consciousness. The Thriller album sold all the copies – you know we all remember our own with the inset of a tiny tiger cub and Michael in a full ‘80’s Playgirl pose.

I imagine now that we would never agree because Michael Jackson would only be played on R&B radio stations, while the country fans remained truly oblivious and the indie snobs pretended not to know while talking about obscure garage bands on vinyl. It’s pretty much an either/or situation, instead of a both/and. We don’t like Asia AND Kool & the Gang anymore. We like Asia OR Kool & the Gang. And I don’t think that’s too awesome.

This lack of communal experiences hasn’t yet wrecked films, although the streaming “Same Day As Theaters” premiere is threatening. TV has already been lost – water cooler moments where we gaped at cliff-hangers and huge surprises are antiques. SO much of the beauty of art is its ability to connect us, and the connection is lost when we’ve nothing in common.

I guess it’s cool that we can watch what we want (choosing from infinite possibilities) when we want, further individualizing our lives. But maybe isolating ourselves isn’t what any of us need right now. Or ever.

Anyway. I was kidding when I said “If you missed it,” because Adele sort of transcends genre lines of division. Every radio station and entertainment forum knew and waited breathlessly in anticipation for this record from this ridiculous talent to drop.

And it did and we all listened together, no matter where we lived or who we voted for or what we thought about masks and vaccines. And it was simply beautiful, to do this with you, with everyone.

It hardly mattered that the album itself was largely underwhelming (with a few glorious exceptions). What mattered was that we were there together. Finally. Again.