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#RSEssential10: Adele

With the first single “Easy On Me” from her hotly anticipated fourth album 30 released this week, we dive into 10 essential songs from the 15-time Grammy Award winning superstar

Amit Vaidya Oct 15, 2021


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10. “Rumor Has It”

“People might think it’s about blogs and magazines and papers, but it’s not. It’s about my own friends believing stuff that they hear about me, which is pretty mortifying really.”

While not released as a single in many territories, “Rumor Has It” has charted across the globe including the U.S. where it even managed to make a dent on the Rock and Triple A charts. Co-written and produced by hitmaker Ryan Tedder (of OneRepublic), the track is one of the few upbeats tracks on Adele’s mammoth 21 LP. The song is reminiscent of the girl-group Sixties sound the artist has always been so fond of, brought back to life just a few years prior into the mainstream zeitgeist by the late great Amy Winehouse. 

9. “Skyfall”

The first Bond theme to ever actually win the Oscar for Best Original Song, “Skyfall” is everything you expect from a Bond theme but also from an Adele record.

Grander than any track on her first two albums that released prior to this single, the song showcased the diva we all know that exists within the artist but she never truly embraced in her storytelling vocals. Most critics hailed the song one of the best if not the best Bond theme since Dame Shirley Bassey. For Adele, it was a great showcase of her talents not confined by her thematic albums.

8. “Hometown Glory”

As her debut single and also the first song she ever wrote, “Hometown Glory” is a slice of nostalgia shared by a young woman finding her place in the city during the summertime.

The song captures the youthfulness and curiosity of the artist as a songwriter but also highlights quite beautifully the storytelling vocal vulnerability Adele later perfects in future torch ballads.

7. “Make You Feel My Love”

When artists as diverse as Billy Joel, Garth Brooks and Joan Osborne record covers of a deep cut track written by Bob Dylan – it’s a tall order for anyone to make the song their own. But Adele brilliantly takes on the song and on her debut album 19 makes a splash by making the song feel like it’s hers and hers alone.

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While not released as a single, for many, the affection that the artist got for her cover feels almost like a prelude to her blockbuster 21 that came next.

6. “All I Ask”

It’s a mystery why “All I Ask” was not released as a single from 25. With Bruno Mars co-writing and co-producing the track, the pop ballad had everything going for it – soul, contemporary feel and lyrics that keep us engrossed in the singer’s story about that one last night for a couple before separating. Despite not being released as a single, the song charted across the globe and has become a fan favorite.

5. “Someone Like You”

Adele’s second single from 21 – “Someone Like You” was as gut-wrenching and emotive as a song could get. But radio friendly? A Top 40 hit, reaching number 1? When you actually think about how atypical the song is in terms of what we expect to hear on the radio (a piano ballad!), it’s actually quite unbelievable how powerful Adele’s strength was to get this tearjerker like no other to collectively keep us tuned in.

4. “Hello”

Adele came back roaring with her first single from 25 – “Hello.” Usually reserved for hip-hop giants like Drake or teen superstars like Justin Bieber, Adele managed to score an instant mammoth hit, reminding everyone that nobody can write or belt out their emotions quite like this Brit.

3. “Chasing Pavements”

Normally controversy and Adele don’t seem to go together but for the second release from her debut album 19, “Chasing Pavements” actually got banned in the U.S. across several radio stations as it was deemed a “gay anthem.” Adele actually set the record straight while performing at the U.K. Mercury Awards: “Some weirdo on the Net wrote that ‘Chasing Pavements’ was about being gay, which isn’t true at all.”

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Regardless, the song became a big hit for the star and even helped Adele to win Best New Artist at the Grammys and Pop Performance With Vocals for the track.

2. “Set Fire To The Rain”

“Set Fire to the Rain,” a soaring ballad landed Adele her third number one hit in a row from 21. The single managed to showcase yet another layer of the singer’s range, part heartbreak, part hopeful, but all soul. While a music video was never shot for the single, the live version from her performance at the Royal Albert Hall became one of the most streamed live music videos ever on YouTube.

1. “Rolling In The Deep”

Unequivocally, “Rolling In The Deep” is the song that changed Adele’s trajectory from solid Brit-soul singer to bona fide multi-genre superstar. The bluesy-gospel tinged single simply could be heard everywhere and after nearly two decades, we had an artist who transcended the divisive boxes radio programmers had been used to segregating. How successful was the song in terms of crossover appeal? 

The song charted and reached number one on the Hot 100, Adult Alternative, Adult Contemporary, Adult Top 40, and Mainstream Top 40. It also hit the Top 20 on the Dance, R&B, Rock, Rock & Alternative, Latin Pop and Rhythmic charts.

The first single from 21 was epic in every way and it’s no wonder Adele walked home with Song and Record of the Year for a song that broke every trend and exceeded every expectation.

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