Monday, December 30, 2013

Adele, The #61 Female Artist of the Rock Era

To give you some idea of the quality of The Top 100*, we have a woman who just won tons of hardware at the Grammys not long ago, the #1 song of last year, and the best she can hope for is #61.

Adele Laurie Blue Adkins was born in London.  Her father walked out when she was two, leaving her 20-year-old mother to raise her by herself.  Adele began singing at age four, citing the Spice Girls as a major influence.  When she was nine, Adele and her mother moved to Brighton.  

They moved back to London two years later, and Adele graduated from the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology in Croydon in 2006.    She was offered a recording contract from XL Recordings after a friend posted her demo on Myspace in 2006.  Adele hired Jonathan Dickins as her manager and she recorded her first song, "Hometown Glory", when she was 16.

Adele's debut album, 19, was released in 2008 and debuted at #1 in the U.K.  Adele was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Hometown Glory", even though it had received little airplay.  Adele's follow-up was "Chasing Pavements", a #1 song in Norway, a #2 in the U.K. for four weeks, #7 in Ireland and #9 in the Netherlands. 

Adele won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist, and she also won the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Chasing Pavements".    It was also nominated in the prestigious categories of Record of the Year and Song of the Year.  

Adele performed at the Keep a Child Alive Black Ball in London and New York City.   British Prime Minister Gordon Brown sent a thank-you letter to Adele that stated "with the troubles that the country's in financially, you're a light at the end of the tunnel."  The Bob Dylan song "Make You Feel My Love" reached #3 in the Netherlands, #4 in the U.K. and #5 in Ireland.

Adele set out on a world tour in 2008-09.  Her career got a boost when she performed on Saturday Night Live in 2008.  The program received the best ratings in 14 years when it was watched by over 17 million people.  That helped introduce her to the United States, and as a result, the album jumped 35 places to #11 the next week.  19 went Double Platinum in the United States and sold over 7 million copies worldwide.

On the strength of that album, Adele signed with Columbia Records to release her records in the United States.  Her second album, appropriately titled 21, her age at the time, was released in 2011.  She released "Rolling In The Deep" as the first single, and was set to make history.

"Rolling In The Deep" was #1 for seven weeks in the U.S., was also #1 in Canada, Germany and Switzerland, and it won both Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammys.

21 reached #1 in 26 countries.  Adele cleaned up at the Grammys, equaling Beyonce's record for most Grammy Awards won by a female in one night with six.  She won Album of the Year and also won three American Music Awards--Favorite Pop/Rock Album, Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist and Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist.  The single "Someone Like You" also hit #1 for five weeks in the United States and topped the chart in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Ireland. 

The album held on to #1 for more weeks (23) than any album since 1985 and 21 is the longest-running #1 album by a female in history, topping Whitney Houston's record with "The Bodyguard" Soundtrack.  Billboard named Adele the Artist of the Year, 21 the Album of the Year and "Rolling In The Deep" the Song of the Year, making Adele the first female ever to win all three categories.

"Set Fire To The Rain" extended Adele's streak to three straight #1 songs, and she won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance.

Adele became the first female artist to have three singles in the Top 10 at the same time when her three releases from 21 were all ranked there simultaneously.  She also became the first person ever to have a #1 album and three #1 singles on the charts at the same time, and the first British female artist to ever have three career #1 songs.  

Sales of four million copies in the U.K. have made 21 the fifth-biggest selling album of all-time in the U.K.  In Australia, the album has been #1 for 30 weeks, the second longest-running #1 in that country's history.  21 has now been certified Diamond in the United States (over 10 million units) and has sold over 28 million copies worldwide, the top album of the 21st century so far.

Adele sold out her North America tour in 2011, but in October, was forced to cancel two other tours because of a vocal cord hemorrhage.  She underwent laser microsurgery during the first week of November.  A recording of her tour, Live at the Royal Albert Hall, sold 96,000 copies its first week, the highest selling music DVD in four years.  

After her successful surgery, Adele made her live comeback at the 2012 Grammy Awards.  She wrote and recorded "Skyfall", the theme to the James Bond movie.  It reached #1 in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Ireland, #2 in the U.K. and New Zealand and #8 in the United States.  "Skyfall" has sold over two million copies worldwide.  

Adele won both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song for "Skyfall". 

Adele has strongly opposed the sexualized music industry, making reference to stunts performed by Madonna, Katy Perry, and Madonna.  Finally.  Somebody said it.  Frankly, most are pretty sick of it.

In 2013, Prince Charles presented Adele by making her a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

Longtime music fans such as me or you might see the #61 ranking for Adele and surmise that it is on potential.  Not so, for her potential is limitless.  It so happens that Adele has sold more albums in the U.S. alone (11) than ever female artist ranked behind her except two:  Sarah McLachlan and Melissa Etheridge.  She has won more major music awards (12) than all ranked below her, and more than many ranked ahead of her.  And her time spent at #1 already in her short career (14 weeks) is more weeks than the five female artists ranked directly below her have combined.

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