|“He Won't Go”|
|Song by Adele|
from the album 21
|Released||January 19, 2011|
|Recorded||Shangri La Studios (Malibu, California)|
|Writer(s)||Adele Adkins, Paul Epworth|
|21 track listing|
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"He Won't Go" (originally titled "What Is Love") is the sixth track off of Adele's sophomore album, 21. It was produced by Rick Rubin. The song was originally intended to be the last track on the album instead of "Someone Like You." It was originally co-written by Adele and Paul Epworth under the title "What Is Love." Their version was originally intended to be put on the record, but Rick Rubin and Adele also did a version of the song that Epworth liked better, and they ended up changing the name of the song to "He Won't Go" and releasing the version produced by Rick Rubin.
"He Won't Go" was the only song featured on 21 that was not included in the setlist for Adele's Adele Live tour.
The song was mainly inspired by two friends of Adele's that she had met after her first record, 19, was released. She had met them through her love of dogs. The male was a heroin-addict and had been making his journey to rehab. The couple's bond had helped the male overcome his addiction, something that really touched Adele, who says that she is very proud of both of them, as the male has been "clean" for what is now over a year. Adele spoke with The Sun, stating, "The first verse was about me and my ex but then became about two of my close friends who are a couple that became my lifeline when I came off tour. Two months after I met them, the boyfriend went into rehab for heroin addiction. I had no idea about his problem."
"He Won't Go" originally was included in the album's track listing under the title "What Is Love," and was originally co-written by Adele and Paul Epworth, who also produced the song originally. Ultimately, it was decided that Rick Rubin's version with Adele would be released on the album. Therefore, "He Won't Go" appears as a separate song from "What Is Love" on BMI Repertoire. At one point, the song may have also had some association with "Never Gonna Leave You," a cut from 21 that was penned by Adele and Fraser T Smith, as the lyrics in the bridge of "Never Gonna Leave You" are the same as those included in the bridge of "He Won't Go."
Some fans have also suggested that the song was reportedly originally titled "Don't Leave Me" during the writing and recording of 21.
"He Won't Go" features more R&B undertones, distinguished by a prominent bass and harp sound, and prompted comparisons to Mary J. Blige and Lauryn Hill. The song was written in the key of C minor.
"He Won't Go" received mainly positive reviews from music critics, with some citing it as a highlight from the album. The song was described by one critic as something she might perform at the Soul Train Awards. Joseph Viney of Sputnikmusic wrote that "'He Won't Go' should get even the most miserable of music fans snapping their fingers." Matt Collar of AllMusic named the track as one of the album's highlights, and further wrote, "'Rumour Has It' and the old-school-style soul cut "He Won't Go" are terrifically catchy, booty-shaking numbers, and exactly the kind of songs you want and expect from Adele." The New York Times praised the "disco-like treatment of the vocals" on the song. Slant Magazine wrote that the song, like the Ryan Tedder-produced "Rumour Has It," had a more adventurous arrangement, and further called the song "hip-hop flavored." 
The Boston Globe gave a mixed review of the song; it praised Adele's vocals, but criticized Rick Rubin's production skills on both this song and "Don't You Remember," blaming him for "obscuring" them.  PopMatters also gave the song a mixed review, but complimented Adele's songwriting abilities, which they felt were shown off on this track: "More often though, she is saddled with ersatz arrangements like the Vegas lounge trappings that stifle the potentially compelling addiction drama 'He Won’t Go' ('will he go back to the place where he will choose the poison over me?' she sings in one of too few passages here that remind what a strong lyricist she can be)."
- Adele – songwriting, lead vocals, backing vocals
- Paul Epworth – songwriting
- Rick Rubin – producer
- James Poyser – piano
- Chris Dave – drums
- Lenny Castro – percussion
- Stephanie Bennett – harp
- Andrew Scheps – mixer
- Phillip Broussard Jr. – mixing assistant, engineering assistant
- Greg Fidelman – recording, engineer
- Sara Lyn Killion – recording assistant, engineering assistant
- Lindsay Chase – production coordinator