The record was so anticipated, Sony Music reportedly ordered around half a million vinyl copies, putting vinyl production on delay for other artists.
For some, this comes as no surprise, as the English singer-songwriter is one of the world’s best-selling music artists, with over 120 million records.
Even the lead single, “Easy on Me,” was an immediate global success, breaking the Spotify and Amazon Music records for the most streams for a song in a day or a week.
So how did Adele get to this point of almost guaranteed commercial success? We look at her award-winning career and how she has become one of the biggest names in the music industry.
To understand where Adele has come from, one has to know where she started.
This legacy all started just a few months after graduation when Adele recorded a three-song demo for a class project and gave it to a friend, who posted it on Myspace and gained immediate attention.
One of those to notice the young singer-songwriter was Richard Russell, head of XL Recordings. The yet-to-be-known British singer signed with the label in 2006, followed by her first album, 19, produced by Jim Abbiss, two years later.
The album immediately set her apart from the rest of the industry, especially with hit songs “Chasing Pavement” and “Hometown Glory,” the latter recorded when she was only 16.
19, named after the singer’s age during its release and production, soon won numerous awards, including the Mercury Prize and the European Border Breakers Award, as well as winning Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Chasing Pavements” at the 51st Grammy Awards.
The album is certified 8x platinum by the BPI, while 3x platinum in the United States by RIAA, having sold over 3 million copies. The album has sold over 6.5 million copies worldwide.
After Adele’s first studio album, she gained international recognition for her strong vocals and emotional themes that make you want to cry your heart out.
On her second album, 21, she remained on the same path, inspired by a breakup with a former partner.
Unlike her debut album, Adele decided to use more contemporary country/ Motown/ soul sounds for her sophomore album.
The singer points this change to her bus driver playing contemporary music from Nashville while touring the American South.
She released the album in early 2011 via both XL and Columbia Records, naming it for the same reason as its predecessor. The album included some of her most recognized songs, such as “Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You.”
Adele secured her second worldwide hit, topping Billboard charts in more than 30 countries and becoming the world’s best-selling album in 2011 and 2012.
Some accolades for this album include being the UK’s best-selling album of the 21st century, the fourth best-selling album of all time, and the best-selling album by a solo artist of all time.
At the 2012 Grammy’s, she won in all six categories nominated, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year.
A few months later, Adele confirmed her third album would like to be at least two years away, taking a brief hiatus from recording.
“I have to take time and live a little bit,” Adele said. “There were a good two years between my first and second albums, so it’ll be the same this time.”
The day before Adele’s 26th birthday, she hinted at her return when she posted on Twitter, “Bye-bye 25… See you again later in the year.” The singer didn’t release the album a year and a half later to reflect her life and frame of mind at 25-years-old.
Once again, she uses themes of yearning for the past, nostalgia, and melancholia about the passage of time. This, of course, resonated deeply with her now massive fan base.
The last album, produced by Paul Epworth and Ryan Tedder plus Max Martin and Danger Mouse, featured even more well-recognized songs such as “Hello” and “When We Were Young.”
Once again, the album received positive reviews from critics and quickly debuted at number one in 32 countries.
25 was the world’s best-selling album of the year for 2015, with 18.4 million copies sold within the year, and has gone on to sell over 22 million copies worldwide, making it the fourth-best selling album of the 21st century, the second-best-selling album of the 2010s (behind 21), and one of the best-selling albums of all-time.
Adele’s stardom had become massive at this point and has led her to another certified Diamond record from the RIAA, making her the only artist of the 2010s to achieve this certification with two albums.
Although the artist wasn’t known to perform often at music festivals, where success is easily determined, she headlined Glastonbury in 2016, establishing her as one of the best artists in the entire world.
After six long years, Adele released her fourth studio album, 30, via Melted Stone and Columbia Records, delayed due to the ongoing pandemic from 2020.
Following the same emotional foundation of her first three intimate albums, Adele’s inspiration for this album came from a divorce from ex-husband Simon Konecki while also discussing motherhood, heartbreak, and the scrutiny of fame.
Other than her first single, “Easy on Me,” Adele also held an extensive promotional campaign with a one-night performance special on CBS titled Adele One Night Only, including an interview segment with Oprah Winfrey a week before the release.
Upon release, the album, produced by Greg Kurstin, Tobias Jesso Jr., Max Martin, and Shellback, claimed immediate praise and flooded headphones worldwide.
Some songs on the divorce album where Adele sings about relatable topics include “My Little Love,” “I Drink Wine,” “To Be Loved,” “Cry Your Heart Out,” “Oh My God,” and “Hold On.”
One of the bigger surprises is a posthumous credit to American jazz pianist Erroll Garner for “All Night Parking,” making this the first time a guest act was featured on a studio album from Adele.
On top of the powerful lyrics and soulful sounds, Adele took this divorce in stride by showing others it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.
In 2016, Adele started to lose a significant amount of weight, a quality that followed her throughout most of her career.
30’s Critical Success
It didn’t take long for artists to declare this Adele’s best album yet, praise that most could have predicted even before the release.
Three weeks before the release, the album broke the Apple Music record for the most pre-added album ever on the streaming platform and broke the record for the largest number of pre-adds in a single day.
Considering the album is only a few days old, it’s too soon to tell just how successful Adele’s new album will be compared to her previous massive hits.
One indicator for this success is a report from the Official Charts Company, which logged 167,000 chart sales in the UK in the first half of its opening week, larger than the rest of the chart’s top 40 combined.
Looking back at Adele’s career, it’s no surprise her newest album is on track to become one of the most successful albums in the 21st century, possibly ever.
As long as the British singer continues to use relatable themes in her music, along with her powerful vocals, she will continue to sell millions of copies worldwide, giving the music industry a good reason to fall behind in vinyl production.
If you haven’t listened to it yet, Adele’s 30 is available on all streaming services.