"Hello, it's me. I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet to go over everything … "
With these few words, Adele broke the internet via X-Factor UK, followed days later by the aforementioned new single and launch of pre-sells for her third album, 25. Announced via her Facebook page ( like any self-respecting mommy would ), she stated "My last record was a break-up record and if I had to label this one I would call it a make-up record. I'm making up with myself. Making up for lost time. Making up for everything I ever did and never did. But I haven't got time to hold on to the crumbs of my past like I used to. What's done is done."
Of course, a choir of boys and girlsand your motherrejoiced. The world fully embraced the familiar tones of sadness with a hint of healing throw in. But the world wondered, and some complained. Is this going to be the same old Adele from her giant, Grammy-winning 21? From the sounds of the opening single, the similarities in cover art, and her note, pretty much. Some wondered if that was a good thing.
Many hit albums go gold ( selling half a million ), or even platinum ( one million ), but multi-platinum is much more rare now than in record sales' heydays of the '80s and '90s, before downloading and streaming took a cut. Following up a hit album gone gold is one thing, but following up the rare diamond sales mark of 10 million is a gamble the world monitors with a glaring eye. That follow-up album, no matter how good, never seems to match up.
For instance, Michael Jackson's Thriller sold twice what 21 did ( twenty-seven million ), and is still the best selling album in history, but Bad was considered a let down after selling a staggering nine million. And that was with MJ sticking to his previous album's formula: same producer, same style, etc. Time is littered with artists who sold ten million plus and took a severe right turn either to flex their muscles artistically or to just rebel against the machine. Prince sold twelve million of Purple Rain and in less than a year dropped Around the World in a Day, an album with one big pop song ( "Raspberry Beret" ), one video, no photos inside and very little promotion. Fleetwood Mac had the biggest record of the '70s with Rumours and decided to follow it up with the brilliantly misunderstood mess of Tusk. Once again, only one real single and down the toilet.
At least those artists made it out alive and continued to shine, albeit less brightly than a diamond. I challenge most of our readers to even name the follow-up albums after Hootie & The Blowfish or Creed sold well over diamond status. I'll give you a minute to browse your local thrift store for the answer.
From the sound of "Hello," Adele seems to have it right and may come very close to the success of her previous smash, but history has shown lightning won't strike twice. Besides, nothing ever beats 21.