The Record Breaker!
Born to an English mother and Welsh father, Adele emerged in music early on. As a teenager, she studied at the famed music college Brit School where she was classmates with Leona Lewis and Jessie J. Amy Winehouse also attended this establishment a few years earlier.
Adele quickly gained recognition for her emotive voice after she’d posted on the social media platform MySpace and ended up signing with XL Recordings.
Before she’d even released her first single, Jools Holland invited her to perform Daydreamer on his TV show Later with… in 2007, only a year after she’d graduated.
Later that year she released her first single, Hometown Glory, written about the area she’d grown up in, Tottenham, London.
This lead her to be a headliner for acoustic sets, where she was supported by another up and coming singer-songwriter, Damien Rice.
As we enter 2008, Adele releases her next single, Chasing Pavements. This coincided with picking up a couple of Awards for critics’ choice and sound of 2008, related to Brit and BBC which had both backed her since day one.
Her debut album, 19, soon followed suit as it was released in January 2008.
More Awards followed, and she signed with Columbia Records for worldwide reach and set off for an American tour. Initially, this didn’t go well but following a successful appearance on Saturday Night Live, album sales, and attendance soon picked up.
After a few months, she pulled out of touring to spend time with her boyfriend. One can only imagine how the record label and manager felt about this.
By 2009, Adele’s debut album had sold millions of copies and more Awards started to roll in, perhaps this made the shambles on tour ease the pain for the machine that was building around her.
The final single from the album was a cover of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love, and this was perhaps the tune that really made her. Surprisingly, she actually played bass on this recording.
It took a while for Make You Feel My Love to gain recognition, but it ended up entering the charts several times over the following years. Eventually, it racked up over 3 million sales worldwide.
The follow-up album arrived in 2011. Named 21, it was a huge success. Written about the boyfriend she had abandoned her American tour for but was now broken up with, it would become the album that made Adele a worldwide superstar.
Hits on 21 include Someone Like You and Rolling In The Deep. These two tunes did so well, her first album, 19, entered the charts again. The success of 21 was so immense it eclipsed Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black and became the biggest-selling record of the 21st century, in the U.K.
The third single, Set Fire To The Rain broke another record as it gave her three #1 singles and a #1 album in the U.S.
All seemed well as she set out on another U.S. tour. Unfortunately, it was soon interrupted, this time due to her voice failing. After having laser surgery on her vocal cords, she was soon back and filmed a live show at the Royal Albert Hall. The DVD from the gig broke records (obviously) as the highest-selling music DVD in a week with 96.000 copies sold.
After breaking another record of selling the most albums, singles, and DVD’s in a year, it was off to the American Music Awards to collect three trophies.
Yet another record here was broken as she’d become the first female artist to pick up Female Artist, Contemporary Artist, and Album Awards in the same year.
At the next year’s Grammy Awards, she doubled down and won all six categories for which she was nominated.
Five years after its release, 21 has gone on to sell 31 million copies worldwide.
Before attempting the daunting task of following up 21, Adele composed Skyfall for the new James Bond film. Of course, it became one of the best-selling James Bond singles of all time, charting at #8, the same as Duran Duran had done with their A View To Kill in 1985.
Skyfall sold 5 million copies and Adele had to get back on the red carpet to answer questions about when her next album was due and whether it would be named after her age again.
The answer was 25 and the release year was 2015. This wasn’t as big as 21 but still, 23 million worldwide sales is difficult to complain about!
Two big tunes came on this record, Hello (not a Lionel Richie cover), and When We Were Young.
Most tunes were co-written, with names such as Bruno Mars, Max Martin, and Linda Perry getting in on the action.
When Hello was released on YouTube it was viewed one million times an hour at least for the first week.
Her latest album, 30, came out in 2021. Delayed due to the pandemic it wasn’t yet another success from the Tottenham songbird. Fewer big singles came from it compared to her previous efforts.
With album sales of 4.5 million worldwide, most artists and bands would get the champagne out but by Adele’s standards, this might be considered a flop, or perhaps it’s just too early to tell.
Easy On Me, the lead single does sound like classic Adele and the Spotify numbers are looking good so I guess time will tell how 30 stacks up against 19, 21, and 25.
What is certain though is that as Adele gets back on the red carpet for her seemingly obligatory Award collection, the question will no doubt again be: What age will her next album be named?
Personally, I’ll be looking forward to the next Rolling In The Deep. She did get divorced in 2021 so the stage is seemingly set…
Adele tunes | Related pages
Make You Feel My Love
| Bb | F/A |
When the rain is blowing in your face.
| Ab | Eb/G |
And the whole world is on your case.
Rolling In The Deep
| Cm | Cm G |
There’s a fire starting in my heart.
| G Bb | Bb G Bb |
Reaching a fever pitch, it’s bringing me out the dark.