Adele's Out-Of-Nowhere Mega-Year Explained


By Sterling Wong

It wasn’t supposed to be like this: 2011 was supposed to be the year of Lady Gaga. Coming off a mammoth first album and incredibly successful world tour, the 25 year-old was expected to rule the world with her massively hyped and eagerly anticipated sophomore album, Born This Way.

Make no mistake, Gaga’s Born This Way was a success, debuting on the Billboard 200 with over 1 million copies sold and putting four singles in the top ten. But the real zeitgeist this year was unexpected: a humble, English, 23 year-old soul singer who we know simply as Adele.

The songstress found success with her first album, 2008's 19, but it was she, and not Gaga, who enjoyed sophomore success the likes of which have not been seen since… well, ever!

The key to Adele’s success is simple: Her soaring, soulful vocals, coupled with heartfelt lyrics and elegiac production, stood out and struck a chord in the hearts of everyone from teenagers mourning the loss of love to grandmothers enjoying the throwback feel of her songs.

Here’s a gander at some of the impressive numbers Adele’s racked up this year (there were so many we couldn’t begin to list them all!):

>>> 21 is the most downloaded album ever in the US and in the UK.

>>> "Rolling in the Deep" is the bestselling download ever by a British artist

>>> 21 is the first album to sell more than 5 million copies in America in a calendar year since Usher’s ‘Confessions’ did so in 2004.

>>> Her live DVD, "Live at Royal Albert Hall," after just two weeks of sales, has already sold more than any other musical video in an entire year since 2009.

>>> 21 spent 13 weeks atop the Billboard 200, which is the most time any album has logged at the summit since the "Titanic" soundtrack in 1998.

>>> Adele’s power extends beyond her own products: Glee’s mashup of “Rumor Has It/Someone Like You” was so popular it became the TV series’ bestselling mashup to date.

>>> Adele has both the No. 1 Billboard 200 album (21) and the No. 1 Hot 100 song ("Rolling in the Deep") of 2011.

>>> "Someone Like You" is the first-ever acoustic ballad to hit No.1 on the Hot 100.

>>> 21 is now the UK’s bestselling album by a female artist ever, overtaking Madonna’s 21 year-old The Immaculate Collection.

>>> It’s not just sales too – Adele’s gotten critical acclaim by the truckload, including six Grammy nods, and more importantly, the title of MTV’s Best Song of 2011 for “Rolling in the Deep”

The amazing thing about Adele’s success, especially here in America, is that she’s only released two singles so far and has already broken so many records.

With “Set Fire to the Rain” just starting to heat up on radio and a bounty of Grammy wins sure to come in February, we simply cannot see the Adele train stopping anytime in the near future. If you’re one of the few remaining holdouts who continues to question what all the fuss about Adele is, we say: Resistance is futile.

To put it simply, there are times when we question how or why an artist has become so popular, but this is the very opposite situation. Adele’s out-of-this-world success should be celebrated all the more because it is a rare instance where the tastes of the general public have aligned with that of the critical consensus. 21 and songs like “Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You” are stone-cold classics that will still be on radio playlists 50 years down the road.