Current UK Chart Position -1
Current US Chart Position – 1
One thing is certain. There will be a lot of people opening parcels containing this CD on Christmas Day. Released in November this has already become the music phenomenon of the year. It had a lot to live up to. Just before its release Billboard, the official USA chart compilers produced a list of the most successful albums of all time and there at number one was our British girl Adele with this album’s predecessor “21”. If I tell you the rest of the Top 5 you can see what an extraordinary achievement this is (5: Born In The USA – Bruce Springsteen 4: Fearless – Taylor Swift 3: Thriller- Michael Jackson 2: The Sound Of Music Soundtrack and 1: our very own Adele Adkins). In the UK it is credited as being the 4th biggest selling album of all time (behind 3: Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles 2: Gold- Abba 1: Greatest Hits – Queen). This makes it the second biggest selling studio album in the UK ever! How do you follow statistics like that. Well, Adele, as we all know took some time off and had a baby, she did, however find time to record the Bond Theme “Skyfall” – an Oscar Winner and just this week voted the Best Bond Theme of All Time in the ITV programme “Britain’s Favourite Bond Song”. She never needed to record again and I am sure there were times (as she implied when recently interviewed by Graham Norton for “Adele at The BBC” that just not bothering to follow up such a monumental achievement kept crossing her mind). But after almost a four year wait out came “25” and the all-time records began falling and the statistics started mounting up.
The quickest album ever to achieve sales of two million in the UK – “21” took 13 weeks to achieve this. The follow-up has taken in the region of 29 days. Over 800,000 of these were sold in the first week- the biggest first week sale ever. The first weekend sales added up to 124 copies every minute. On its first day of release it garnered a total of 46% of the total UK album sales.I n the US during its first week it shifted 3.38 million units. The album is number 1 in virtually every album chart in the western world and the lead-off single “Hello”, with its 27.7 million online views in the first 24 hours of its appearance is one of the biggest selling singles of the year in most markets. I could probably fill a couple of thousand more words with sales figures but I would probably only be entertaining myself. So, with statistics like this I’m sure Adele is hanging onto my every word to see what I think of this album and is no doubt thrilled by its inclusion on reviewsrevues.com!
This is Adele’s third studio album. I have all three in my collection but I would not say I was an out and out Adele fan. I thought her first album was a very strong debut, that her second deserves a five star rating and that “25” is every bit as good as “21”. However, it always takes a while for her music to really grab me. I’m not going wild from first listen. It took quite a while for her debut hit “Chasing Pavements” to make an impression on me. I’m not alone in that as it hung around the Singles Charts for ages (25 weeks) peaking at number 2 (US#21). Her fourth single “Make You Feel My Love” (#4), a cover of a Bob Dylan song shows just how good a song stylist Adele can be. She cites her musical influences as Ella Fitzgerald ,Etta James and Roberta Flack, claiming that listening to these artists taught her how to sing and you can tell as she manages to turn this Dylan tune into something very different and very important. By the second album I was feeling the Adele magic more and for me she had less to prove. The lead single “Rolling In The Deep” (UK#2, US#1), “Rumour Has It”(US#16) and the track “He Won’t Go” all showed that this was an artist who had matured vocally and professionally. It was however, a career-changing performance on the Brits of a stripped down sound performing the torch-song “Someone Like You” (UK#1, US#1) which really pushed her onto another level. Adele also claims good timing helped her US career with a “Saturday Night Live” performance when everyone was watching because Sarah Palin was taking part. This track catapaulted Adele into super-stardom and was many people’s motives for buying “21”. The three consecutive UK singles of “Make You Feel My Love” (70 weeks), “Rolling In The Deep” (66 weeks) and “Someone Like You” (78 weeks) saw a chart run of 214 weeks which is considerably more than a lot of significant artists’ chart careers.
“25” opens with the lead single, the monumentally selling “Hello”. I’m actually a little cool towards this track. It veers a little too much towards the shouty- I think there are at least another three tracks on this CD that I like better. If you’re a big “Hello” fan and still haven’t bought this album (just where have you been?) I think you may find there are better examples of classic Adele within. You don’t have to wait too long for these are two of them are up next. “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” is quite a funky, catchy track co-written with Max Martin and Shellback. It’s almost perky and singalong in the way that Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” was singalong. You find yourself anticipating the hooks. “I Miss You” written by Adele with Paul Epworth has a dramatic, swirling vocal beginning and the whole thing reeks of drama from those hard-hitting “Rumour Has It” (also produced and co-written by Epworth) drums to Adele’s big vocal in the chorus. It has a 90’s club feel to it. “Million Years Ago” looks like it could very well end up the track this album is remembered for. Co-written and produced by Greg Kurstin who joins Epworth in having three tracks on this album (Epworth produced 2 tracks on “21”). Kurstin is a new collaborator on “25” and this is his best track, a really attractive song that for me reminds me a little of Astrud Gilberto for some reason. It’s mellow, poignantly nostalgic, well-structured and just delightful. These three tracks will certainly enrich Adele’s lasting reputation. The rest of the tracks are of a good, consistent standard, there’s not a duff track on here, the track which at the moment registers the least impression upon me is “Water On The Bridge”, the other Adkins/Kurstin track, but that might be that it hasn’t grabbed me yet and I’m a bit distracted by the ethereal backing vocal and Adele’s phrasing on the word “bridge”, but given a few more listens they might just be the aspects that appeal.
I can’t imagine how nervous Adele must have been as the release date for this album drew closer. How would we compare it to what had gone previously and would it sell. How thrilled she must have been by the last few weeks and the response she has got. What is it about Adele that is appealing to so many people? Is it the vulnerability? Her heartbreaks we can all identify with? The cool way she handles promotion? Her likeability? The “common touch”? What is that causes people all around the world to buy into her career? She’s certainly no pop puppet and refreshingly in the music industry today is determined to do things her way. It was back in 2009 that then Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote to her saying; “with the troubles that the country’s in financially, you’re a light at the end of the tunnel.” Just think what she has done for the country’s exports since then.
Adele has done well to keep an air of mystery about her throughout the career madness. I think that the more we get to know her over the coming years the more the world will love her. She provided one of the telly highlights of the year in “Adele At The BBC” when she donned prosthetic make-up to disguise herself amongst other Adele soundalikes auditioning for a TV show. She is likely to be the most important music artist of this decade.
For the video I’ve chosen a live performance from The Church Studios of “When We Were Young” another track which, if released as a single is destined for the top of the charts. This clip has been viewed well over 50 million times already!
And if you missed it, here is my Xmas gift to you – Adele joining in with Graham Norton and the other wannabe Adele’s – the highlight of “Adele At The BBC”.
Adele’s “25” is released on XL Recordings and is currently available from Amazon in the UK for £9.89 and used from £7.87. It can be downloaded for £7.99. In the US expect to pay around $11.88, used from $6.98 and as a download for $10.99. Adele has decided not to allow the album to be streamed on Spotify at present. I’m not sure why I’m telling you all this – If you can’t find a copy of this CD you are not looking very hard!!