There is a sense in which 2021’s biggest single – 84.9m streams in a week on one platform alone; straight to No 1 in 25 countries; a song that received more first-week plays on US radio than any other song ever – wasn’t so much a comeback as an act of global reassurance. The world may recently have lurched from one unimaginable crisis to another, but Adele’s Easy On Me brought with it the message that at least one thing hasn’t changed: Adele Adkins is still heartbroken and belting it out over a gentle piano and tasteful orchestration.
Romantic despair became her global brand from the moment she stopped the show at the 2011 Brit Awards with her tearful performance of Someone Like You. It catapulted her from the massed ranks of soul-influenced singers filling a gap created by the inability of Amy Winehouse to follow up Back To Black, to mind-boggling levels of success. There’s always the chance that millions of people might flock to an upbeat Adele album that depicts her full of the joys of spring, but clearly she wasn’t taking any chances last time around: for want of new unhappiness, 2015’s 25 returned to the same failed relationships that inspired its record-breaking predecessor 21. No matter – it sold 22m copies.
No such problem six years on. Adele’s divorce from her husband is a topic that swallows 30 entirely. The first words you hear her sing are “I’ll be taking flowers to the cemetery of my heart”; the last are “the feelings flood me to the heights of no compromise”. In between, there are tracks called Cry Your Heart Out, Love Is A Game, To Be Loved and – fabulously – I Drink Wine.
In the numbers game of Adele’s life, the next big question will no doubt be, what number will be allocated to her next album?
In the meantime, sit back and enjoy music from 30 on our dedicated radio station.
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