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Adele: Set Fire to the Rain

British singer and songwriter Adele is a top international artist who has won a host of awards, including an amazing 15 Grammy Awards. At the age of just 30, she has swept the board, also winning Brit Awards, Golden Globes and American Music Awards.

Born Adele Laurie Blue Adkins on 5th May 1988, the Tottenham-born artist released a 16-times platinum album called 21 in 2011 - selling around 31 million copies. As the best-selling album in the world in 2011 and 2012, it was also the longest-running number one album by a solo female vocalist in the history of the US and UK album charts.

Adele was also the first female artist in the history of America's Billboard Hot 100 to have three simultaneous top 10 singles: Someone Like You, Rolling in the Deep and Set Fire to the Rain were chart-toppers in 2011.


Early years

Adele was brought up by her mother from the age of two after her parents split up. She began singing aged four and it became her favourite activity.

She attended the Brit School for Performing Arts and Technology in Croydon, graduating in May 2006 alongside classmates Jessie J and Leona Lewis. At the time, she was interested in going into A&R, managing other people's careers, rather than being an artist herself.

However, four months after graduating, a friend posted Adele's three-track demo - recorded for a class project - on MySpace, where it was a big success. This led to a phone call from record label XL Recordings' boss Richard Russell, who invited the 18-year-old to a meeting.

This was the start of Adele's career, as Jonathan Dickins of September Management became her representative. She signed to XL in 2006. Her debut single, Hometown Glory, went gold in 2007, peaking at number 19 in the UK and also charting in France, Ireland and the Netherlands.


Career highlights

Adele's first studio album, 19, went to number one in the UK charts in January 2008, selling seven million copies worldwide and going eight-times platinum. At the tender age of 19,  this firmly established her as one of the top female artists in the world.

To date, she has released 16 singles, eight music videos, three studio albums and two EPs. Every single after her debut has gone platinum and she has enjoyed massive success with singles such as Someone Like You, which was number one in the UK, Australia, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland and America in 2011.

This was followed by Set Fire to the Rain in July of the same year - Adele's second consecutive number one hit in the United States. It was also number one in Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Slovakia and peaked at number 11 in the UK.


Songwriting team

Set Fire to the Rain was co-written by Adele and Fraser T Smith. According to Adele, it was about tears and "burning the pain" of a relationship away after it had ended. She describes it as being about "liberation" and the "contradictions that are in relationships".

In an interview on the Graham Norton show, she joked that it "didn't make sense", because you can't physically set fire to the rain. The title was dreamed up after Adele stepped outside a restaurant for a smoking break, but realised you simply can't light a cigarette in the rain.

Following the incident outside the restaurant, the title came to her in the middle of the night when she awoke. The lyrics were very personal to her, although she said she also intended the song to be an anthem.

When asked about the writing and recording of the track, Smith described Adele as feeling "vulnerable", having just split up with her boyfriend. She had taken her dog, Louis, to the studio for company. Smith said the singer drank large amounts of coffee and sat writing the lyrics, while he wrote the music.

At one point, he noticed Louis chewing on a cable and recalled thinking he was going to blow up the studio. Luckily, this didn't happen, although the dog cried when Adele was singing, so she recorded some of the best takes with Louis sitting on her knee, according to Smith.

Adele said the song related to splitting up with someone, who continually keeps in touch and never lets you get over them, until you finally take back control of your life by telling them to stay away from you.

In 2013, Adele's live performance of Set Fire to the Rain from the DVD, Live at the Royal Albert Hall, received a Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance.


Biggest hits

As one of Adele's biggest hits, Skyfall is the theme song from the 2012 James Bond film of the same name, which went five-times platinum.

In 2015, she enjoyed her biggest hit single to date, Hello, which was number one across Europe and in the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. It achieved diamond status for sales of 10 million records. The video broke the record on Vevo by achieving more than 27.7 million views in 24 hours – a record previously held by Taylor Swift for Bad Blood.

It also won three Grammy Awards for Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance, along with a Brit Award for British Single of the Year and a nomination for British Video of the Year.

Her albums, 21 and 25, both achieved diamond status and were number one hits all over the world, with sales of 31 million and 22 million records respectively in 2011 and 2015.

Adele also holds a record of spending 37 weeks in total at number one in the UK albums chart - longer than any other female artist. She has embarked on three major concert tours, her most recent being Adele Live in 2016 and 2017.

Although Setting Fire to the Rain is a quirky song title, in reality, it's not a good idea to set fire to anything in a fit of angst because a relationship has ended!

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