With new single “Hello,” Adele may be making a bid to become the artist of the century.
British pop/soul singer Adele has a new message for all those who thought that her nearly five-year album hiatus would cause any loss of relevancy, as can sometimes be the case for artists who take that long a vacation in the music business:
Or more accurately, mama’s back with a vengeance.
If you or I or anyone else out there who follows this stuff thought that Adele did big things with her last album, 21, and the singles from it (including three #1s and another that reached the top twenty), that was likely nothing compared to what we’re about to witness with her new release, 25, and particularly its first single, “Hello.”
Based on first day activity alone (the song was released Friday, October 23), “Hello,” with its tale of lost love and regret, was already essentially the #1 song in the country, reportedly selling over 400k copies (in downloads) in its first 24 hours.
Since then, “Hello” has sold an estimated 1 million-plus paid downloads for the Billboard tracking week that ended Thursday 10/29. The song’s provocative video (released the same day as the single and touting an interracial love story starring actor Tristan “Mack” Wilds of The Wire) has tallied over 100 million worldwide YouTube views (the second-quickest of all time to reach that total so quickly…more on that below), and radio airplay for the dark, yet moving ballad has also been strong out of the gate.
All of those metrics (along with streaming on such services as Spotify, Pandora and Rhapsody) are tracked by Nielsen Music and used by Billboard to compile its weekly flagship singles chart, the Hot 100. So it goes without saying that Adele will début at #1 on the next Hot 100 chart (dated November 14) when Billboard compiles it over the weekend and releases it this Monday. When that happens, “Hello” will become the singer’s fourth #1 single, following “Rolling In The Deep,” “Set Fire to the Rain” and “Someone Like You”…all from the album 21.
What’s more, with astronomical numbers like those experienced by “Hello” during its first week, it’s possible the song may already have enough chart points to rank among the year’s 100 biggest hits, a list Billboard compiles and publishes in December. That would be unheard of in chart lore, as every other song on that list will have had months worth of activity to build upon. For a song released in late October to achieve that, especially when Billboard’s cut-off period for year-end calculations is late November, is nothing short of phenomenal.
It’s safe to say we may be in for another year (or two) of Adele pop culture domination like we saw in 2011-12. And in case you need a reminder of the kind of prowess this sometimes tragic, sometimes mournful, but always sultry singer can bring, here are just a few other accomplishments that the reigning Queen of British Soul can lay claim to with this new single along with her earlier work:
- At around 1.1 million units, “Hello” will have the largest-selling début week of any song in the ten-plus years that paid downloads have been tracked by Nielsen Music (formerly SoundScan) and Billboard.
- With her first-week downloads, streaming and radio airplay numbers, Adele’s Hot 100 point total for the November 14-dated chart will likely be the largest since Elton John’s “Candle In The Wind ’97” sold 3.5 million singles in October 1997 (that song was a tribute to Princess Diana in the wake of her death that August).
- Adele already has the biggest-selling album of the decade with her last project, 2011’s 21, which has sold 11.2 million units to date. It is also the fourth-largest selling album of the 21st century, and the most successful by a woman.
- The last album also spent 24 weeks at Number One, longer than any album since 1985 (Prince’s Purple Rain). It was also the #1 album of both 2011 and 2012. That made it the first album to be the number one album of two different years since MJ’s Thriller, which was the number one album of both 1983 and ’84.
- “Rolling In The Deep” is one of only five songs in history (and the most recent) to score the triple crown of ranking as the Billboard #1 single of the year and winning both Grammys for Record and Song of the year.
- The new album 25, with a November 20 release date, is expected to sell between 1.3 and 1.8 million units its first week out (based on pre-orders and industry predictions), which would make it a candidate for the largest début week ever for a female artist. Currently, Britney Spears’ album Oops…I Did It Again holds that title at 1.34 million sold during its first week in 2001. If 25 even approaches those numbers, Adele’s album tally would be far more impressive than Spears’ considering albums generally are selling a fifth of what they used to in 2001. In fact, only one other album released in 2015 has even sold a million units all year: Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (more on another Drake/Adele chart connection in a minute). If Adele’s lofty numbers hold up, she would instantly have the biggest-selling album released in 2015.
- First-day views on Vevo for the “Hello” video were the largest one-day numbers ever at 27 million. Now at over 100 million YouTube views already, Adele’s first-week numbers for the “Hello” videoclip are second only to K-pop artist Psy, whose 2012 song “Gentlemen” reached that total in just 4 days, compared to Adele’s six. A difference worth noting: when Psy did it, he was a new novelty act just coming off record-setting numbers for his previous hit, “Gangham Style” (does anyone even remember how either of those two songs sound?). On the contrary, Adele is hardly anyone’s novelty and she hasn’t had a new album in almost five years. With America’s fickle pop music tastes, there were no guarantees that a comeback release would be this successful after so much time away.
- “Hello” has already inspired countless Internet parodies, memes, personal testimonies and other reactions on social media, further boosting the song’s instant smash status.
- If you’re keeping tabs, “Hello” is a huge international phenomenon, having already reached #1 in the following 15 countries (with others pending): Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Scotland and the U.K.
But not everyone is celebrating Adele’s new chart fortunes.
You see, an unfortunate chart circumstance has developed in the wake of Adele’s latest blitz involving one particular Canadian rapper who’s been holding his breath in October while waiting for his first number one single in the U.S. as a lead artist. When Drake’s latest single “Hotline Bling” rose to #2 (where it now sits for the third straight week behind fellow Canadian The Weeknd’s “The Hills”), the rapper from Ontario went public with his longstanding wish to have his first number one hit on the Hot 100 with this October 15 post on his Instagram account:
I spend my life trying to make waves for the city I am from. No accolades really matter to me other than the fact that I have never had a billboard number one (single). If I get my first number one during the month of October it will be the biggest moment of my career to date (in my mind) and if you are looking for me on that particular evening I will be passed out in the water slide that connects to our pool. I love you and thank you for these memories. I always love the moment right before it happens more than when it actually happens. So thank you…even if it doesn’t.
And just last week, when Drake dropped the video for “Hotline Bling” and it had globs of viewers, it appeared the song finally had a chance to dethrone “The Hills.” But as the chart gods would have it, Drake’s video was only available on Apple Music (by his own doing) and Apple Music does not report its streaming info to Nielsen Music and thus not to Billboard. As a result, the video’s millions of views logged by Apple Music were not counted towards the tune’s Hot 100 point total, and “Bling” had to settle for its runner-up slot again this week.
But at least Drake can take solace in knowing that he is one of only three artists to have over 100 career entries on the Hot 100 (103 exactly, joining Elvis Presley and Lil Wayne in that elite club). “Hello” is only Adele’s eighth Hot 100 single, placing her 95 chart hits behind the YOLO rapper. And at the rate she’s releasing new material (only three albums in eight years…Drake is releasing three this year alone), it’s likely that Drake’s accomplishment won’t be challenged by the British diva any time soon.
As for his chances to finally get that penthouse chart view on the Hot 100 now that “The Hills” is about to relinquish its six-week #1 grip? It appears Mama Adele may have something to say about that…
“Drizzy’s gonna have to wait just a bit longer…”
…at least until she’s through greeting him and all others ‘from the other side’ of that chart penthouse door with her “Hello,” which will likely be sometime in 2016. By then, “Hotline Bling” will be a distant memory.
…and Adele’s chart slayings continue.
To see where this latest “Hello” ranks in the pantheon of pop songs that include our most time-honored personal greeting in their titles, click here.
To see where Adele ranks on my list of the Greatest Blue-Eyed Soul Singers – the Women, click here.
As always, thanks for all the love and support!