21 is the second studio album recorded by British singer-songwriter Adele Adkins. It was released through XL Recordings on 24 January 2011 in the United Kingdom, and through Columbia Records on 22 February 2011 in the United States.
Battling writer's block in her attempt to follow up the surprise success of 19, Adele recorded ten songs influenced by the country and bluegrass sounds her North American tour had exposed her to. Only one of the ten, the ballad "Take It All", proved up to her standards, but the bitter relationship song triggered a fight with her older boyfriend, and ended their relationship. Thus inspired — and driven to drink again — Adele put together the eventual lead single "Rolling in the Deep" the very next day with producer Paul Epworth. With her writer's block obliterated, Adele got back to business. Over the course of the next few months, she finished the modern era's answer to Rumours.
21 sold 203,000 copies in its first week. It also debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart, selling 352,000 copies in its first week in the United States. It was certified Diamond in the US, and 17-times Platinum in the UK, selling over 30 million copies in total. It topped the year-end Billboard 200 in both 2011 and 2012, ultimately becoming the decade-end number-one album on the Billboard 200 for the 2010s.
Five singles were released from the album: "Rolling in the Deep", "Someone Like You", "Set Fire to the Rain", "Rumour Has It", and "Turning Tables". "Someone Like You" would become her first #1 single in the UK, but "Rolling in the Deep" and "Set Fire to the Rain" would also hit #1 in the US. "Rolling in the Deep" is one of the highest-selling singles ever, going eight-times platinum on its own in the United States. The singles from the album would net her 28 Platinum records just in the US and UK.
21 won Adele many, many awards throughout its run of chart dominance, topped off with the both the Brit Award and the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2012. Also at the 2012 Grammys, "Rolling in the Deep" won Best Alternative Song, and "Someone Like You" won Best Pop Solo Performance.
The release of the Concert Film/Live Album Adele: Live at the Royal Albert Hall on 29 November made her the first artist to ever hold a year's top-selling DVD, album, and single all at once. Her performance of "Set Fire to the Rain" at that concert won the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance, giving her consecutive awards in the category. The concert film went ten-times Platinum on its own in the United States.note
- "Rolling in the Deep" - 3:48
- "Rumour Has It"- 3:43
- "Turning Tables" - 4:10
- "Don't You Remember" - 4:03
- "Set Fire to the Rain" - 4:01
- "He Won't Go" - 4:38
- "Take It All" - 3:48
- "I'll Be Waiting" - 4:01
- "One and Only" - 5:48
- "Lovesong" - 5:16
- "Someone Like You" - 4:44
- "If It Hadn't Been For Love" - 3:08 (UK, Taiwan, Poland, and Bulgaria bonus track)
- "Hiding My Heart" - 3:28 (UK, Taiwan, Poland, and Bulgaria bonus track)
We could've had it allllllll! Listing all the trooooooooopes:
- Award-Bait Song: "Take It All" hits most criteria, but did not actually win an award.
- Break-Up Bonfire: Featured in the "Rolling In The Deep" video.
- Break-Up Song: While 21 may often be remembered as Breakup Song: The Album, "He Won't Go" is about a friend's drug problems, "One And Only" is a straightforward love song, and "Lovesong" is a Love Nostalgia Song.
- Cover Version: A Latin-influenced take on The Cure's "Lovesong" appears toward the end.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Not only the cover art for 21 proper, but all of the single covers as well as the entire "Someone Like You" video.
- Face on the Cover: See above.
- The Four Chords of Pop: "Someone Like You"
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: "Someone Like You" plays with the trope. The narrator tries to be this, but also desperately needs to see her former lover again, as "for me, it isn't over" just yet.
- Love Will Lead You Back: And she'll be waiting.
- Murder Ballad: One of the many region-specific bonus tracks is a cover of "If It Hadn't Been For Love", a bluegrass murder song. She sings it in her Royal Albert Hall concert as well, so it's thankfully available everywhere in some form.
- Questioning Title?: "Don't You Remember?"
- Shout-Out: Another of the regional bonus tracks, "I Found A Boy", shouts out Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" both in the lyrics and melody.
- The Something Song: "Lovesong"
- Paris: The video for "Someone Like You" features Adele wandering the empty city, playing on its reputation with lovers.
- Silly Love Songs: "One And Only", surprisingly.
- Surreal Music Video: "Rolling In The Deep" Enjoy the dancing ninja?
- Woman Scorned: Present to memetic levels, but especially "Rumour Has It".