Set fire to the charts: Adele’s ’21’ officially hit the US 10 years ago today

Lucky music fans in the U.K. got to own Adele‘s now-landmark album 21 on January 24, 2011, but it wasn’t until 10 years ago today — February 22, 2011 — that it arrived in North America.

Adele spent much of the days leading up to and after the release appearing on every TV show she could — including NBC’s Today, Letterman, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live and CBS’ The Early Show — and was rewarded with a number-one debut for 21 on the Billboard chart.

In the U.S., the album produced four singles, including three number ones: “Rolling in the Deep,” “Someone Like You,” and “Set Fire to the Rain.”  Its record-breaking success is credited with giving the music industry a much needed shot in the arm.  Adele — who walked through the door that Amy Winehouse originally opened — also paved the way for the subsequent success of other British singer/songwriters like Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Lewis Capaldi.

Here are just a few of the records that Adele set or broke with 21:

–The album spent nearly seven years on the Billboard 200 chart, setting the record for the longest-charting album by a female solo artist, with 353 weeks in total on the chart.

–In 2012, Adele became the first woman ever to have three singles in the Billboard Hot 100 top 10 at the same time: “Set Fire to the Rain” was number two, “Rolling in the Deep” was number five, and “Someone Like You” was number seven.

–Adele set the record for the longest-running number-one album by a female solo artist — 24 weeks — breaking the record previously set by Whitney Houston‘s The Bodyguard soundtrack, which topped the chart for 21 weeks.

–In December 2011, Billboard named Adele Artist of the Year and 21 Album of the Year.  But it continued to be so popular that Billboard named her Artist of the Year and Album of the Year in 2012, too. She was the first artist ever to win both honors back-to-back.

–Adele swept the 2012 Grammy Awards, winning in all six categories she was nominated in, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Song of the Year.  She was the second female artist in history to win that many awards in one night: Beyonce was the first.

–By November of 2012, 21 had gone Diamond, for sales of more than 10 million copies.  It’s now the best-selling album of the 21st century, with more than 31 million copies sold worldwide.

By Andrea Dresdale
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