With Adele's new album '25' out less than a week and already smashing sales records all over the world, it has well and truly installed the 27-year-old Londoner as the biggest pop star in the world. (Sorry, Taylor).
But what are the factors that have made Adele Laurie Blue Adkins so massively successful on a global scale?
We take a guess at 8 reasons why she is one of the biggest forces in music below.
1) THERE'S AN AIR OF MYSTERY ABOUT HER
Pushing her musical accomplishments aside just for a minute, Adele has never been the sort to actively seek out publicity and fame. You don't read much about her in the tabloids, she's never spotted falling out of nightclubs and she generally seems to keep a low profile with her partner and their son when she's not working. During her downtime over the last few years, there was barely a peep out of her; it was like she had fallen off the face of the planet. Unusually for someone in her position, she doesn't seem to crave validation and attention via social media like so many other artists do. And the less you tell people something, they more they want to know. (See also: Enya).
2) SHE'S RELATABLE
Firstly, haven't you heard her infamous cackle? Or that accent? There are no airs and graces about Adele, and that's refreshingly honest for an artist with her level of success - and when people feel like you're 'one of them', they can empathise with your music, too. She comes from a modest background (raised by her single mum) and although she went to the BRIT stage school, she's never lost sight of her north London roots, as 'River Lea', a track on '25', attests to. When she worked with Damon Albarn during writing sessions for '25' (even though they were ultimately fruitless), she described how nervous she was about meeting a member of Blur, a band she listened to in her teens. She's been equally star-struck by Beyonce. She's just like one of us, except with loads more money and an insane level of fame. Still, you'd like to go out for a night on the tear with her. (She'd be buying, of course.)
3) SHE FILLS A GAP IN THE MARKET
There hasn't been a female artist in the same vein as consistent as Adele – a proponent of big, booming, lovelorn ballads – in many a year. You could argue that an artist like Beyoncé is capable of them on occasion, but she's not quite in the same genre. Many have tried and failed to do the 'Shirley Bassey' thing over the years, but few have stayed the course. There's a sense that Adele is continuing a tradition, but giving it her own contemporary twist.
4) THAT VOICE
Well, duh. Talk about stating the obvious - of course the voice is a factor. Do you think 'Someone Like You', or 'Hometown Glory' or 'Hello' would have been anywhere near as powerful if they hadn't been belted out with such soulful ferocity? It's not all about volume and power, either; Adele is capable of beautifully subtle moments with that instrument of hers, too. She doesn't dance and she doesn't really have a 'thing' like Sia's choreographed performances or Taylor Swift's 'I'm friends with every celebrity!' Stepford Wife persona. Luckily, that magnificent voice is enough to carry her through.
5) SHE'S A TALENTED SONGWRITER
There's no question about it - the woman knows how to pen a tune. And yes, even if the subject matter is starting to wear a little thin, casting doubts upon her versatility – you still believe her, no matter how much or how little of her personal experience that's she's injecting into her songs these days. In other words, she's bloody good at the oul' heartbreakers.
6) SHE LOOKS OUT FOR THE LITTLE GUYS
There's a lot to be said for taking the less obvious path. As we've said numerous times, Adele is the biggest pop star in the world right now. She can pick and choose who to work with – and she has, to some degree, with some of the biggest pop songwriters in the world (Max Martin, Greg Kurstin – even DangerMouse and Bruno Mars all feature on '25's credits). Yet she's still looking out for the little guys, and plucked up-and-coming Canadian musician Tobias Jesso Jr. from partial obscurity to co-write a song with her, just because she heard one of his and liked it. That goes for her label, too. She's been signed to independent label XL Recordings since her debut album '19' – but she could probably have made a lot more money by going with a major.
7) SHE HAS THE CROSSOVER APPEAL FOR EVERY MUSIC MARKET ON THE PLANET
How often has it been the case that an artist or band who are massive in Ireland fails to make a dent in the UK? The UK's biggest-selling artist failing to make an impact in the US? Or a huge American star not doing the business in Europe? It happens more often than you'd realise. Adele's music has a crossover appeal that every race, nationality and music market can find something in. It's not edgy or wacky enough to make people think 'This isn't my thing' or 'It's too different to what I normally listen to', and the result is mammoth success on both sides of the Atlantic. We remember being in an Irish bar in Berlin a few years ago and seeing a group of Asian Adele fans belting out 'Rolling in the Deep' on karaoke. They had the whole place on their feet. Enough said.
8) THE THEMES OF HER SONGS ARE UNIVERSAL
That leads us nicely to our final point. She's had accusations of 'one trick pony' levelled at her in recent times, but there's no question that Adele writes the sort of songs that most people can relate to. Who hasn't had a broken heart and is struggling to move on? She captured that beautifully on 'Someone Like You'. Who hasn't regretted wasting time on a relationship? That's 'Chasing Pavements' right there. These aren't sugar-coated, utopian versions of life - this is reality. Her songs are about one of the most primal human emotions – love – and male or female, there's something there for everyone.