Adele - 21

Adele 21
Adele - 21. Courtesy Columbia

Released January 2011

We all knew Adele was something impressive based purely on the voice she unleashed on her debut album 19. Often the material didn't quite hold up to her vocal talents, but when it did on a song like "Chasing Pavements" or "Hometown Glory," the impact was stunning. Adele became a well-deserving winner of the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Now, three years on, the quality of the songs has been raised, the production is solid, and the result is an album that can be seen as nothing short of a pop masterpiece.

Adele is simply one of the most compelling vocal artists in the music industry right now.

That Voice

Adele can truly belt like a number of legendary female vocalists of the past. However, she does have versatility that moves her music beyond the standard diva showcase. She can tower over the martial beats of the album's first single "Rolling In the Deep" or pull back to a gentler bossa nova style interpretation of the Cure's "Lovesong," and then convey utter heartbreak in the album's closer "Someone Like You." She can dig down deep into her blues heart for the sway of "One and Only." The sheer power and emotion in Adele's voice is endlessly stunning.

Warm, Sympathetic Surroundings In Support

The sound of 21 is frequently timeless, and a key to that is the warm, engaging backing that 21's stellar lineup of producers give to the songs here. Ryan Tedder delivers a Motown on steroids sound to animate "Rumour Has It" then breaks things down for a slow, crooning bridge until launching back into that classic soul beat.

The match-up between Adele and Paul Epworth, known recently for his work with Florence and the Machine, seems made in music heaven. All three songs he worked on have a soulful swagger you won't soon forget. "I'll Be Waiting" is a powerful, forward looking catharsis in a sea of songs detailing heartbreak and the wreckage of relationships gone sour.

Rick Rubin's trademark stripped down approach works perfectly here for a singer like Adele whose voice should be the sole focus of the construction of the song.

Top Tracks On 21

  • "Rolling In the Deep"
  • "Rumour Has It"
  • "I'll Be Waiting"
  • "Someone Like You"

Adele Is a Durable Star

Adele proves on this second album she is a durable star. The album 21 has already become one of the biggest hit albums in recent memory in the UK being certified double platinum for sales just four weeks after release. She has both a #1 and a #2 hit single from the collection. It is gratifying to see such a strong public response to this truly powerfully gifted young woman. As 21 is set to be released in the US, "Rolling In the Deep" is climbing sales charts, and the path to #1 on the album chart seems nearly guaranteed. Pop music is ready for a huge talent like Adele. Listen to 21. It is highly likely to be one of your favorite albums of 2011.

Legacy

Stellar reviews of Adele's album 21 were prescient. It turned into one of the biggest hit albums of all time around the world. It debuted at #1 in the US with first week sales of 352,000. It set a record by remaining in the top five of the album chart for 39 consecutive weeks.

It spent 84 weeks in the top 10 tying Bruce Springsteen's Born In the USA for #2 on that all-time list. 21 was the bestselling album of the year in the US in both 2011 and 2012. In November 2012, US sales topped 10 million. That was the fastest any album reached that total since *NSYNC's No Strings Attached more than 10 years earlier. By early 2016, the 21 album had become one of the 10 bestselling albums since Nielsen began digital tracking in 1991.

Adele won seven Grammy Awards for 21 including Album of the Year and Record of the Year and Song of the Year for "Rolling In the Deep." The legacy of 21 helped her single "Hello," the first from her next album 25, become one of the most eagerly awaited singles of all time. It became the first digital single to sell more than one million copies in a single week.

The album 25 rewrote records for the biggest opening sales week selling more than three million copies in its debut week of release.