Adele wrote this song with English producer/songwriter Fraser T Smith, who manned the boards on #1 hits for Tinchy Stryder and Taio Cruz.
Adele (from The Sun
): "Well, it's a bit like Chasing Pavements
, you can't do it. I was playing on my mind while I was trying to light a fag in the rain outside a restaurant." (Note to Americans - "fag" is British slang for "cigarette")
Adele told Q magazine that the title came to her, "in the middle of the night when I got up for a wee…"
Many of the songs on 21 such as this one are about the heartbreaking ending of Adele's first real relationship. She told MTV News in an interview to plug the album's release: "It broke my heart when I wrote this record, so the fact that people are taking it to their hearts is like the best way to recover. 'Cause I'm still not fully recovered. It's going to take me 10 years to recover, I think, from the way I feel about my last relationship. It was the biggest deal in my entire life to date. He made me totally hungry. He was older, he was successful in his own right, whereas my boyfriends before were my age and not really doing much. And he got me interested in film and literature and food and wine and traveling and politics and history, and those were things I was never, ever interested in. I was interested in going clubbing and getting drunk."
This was Adele's third chart-topper on the Hot 100. The song's ascent to #1 coincided with 21
's seventeenth week on top of the album chart. As "Rolling In The Deep
" and "Someone Like You
" also reigned simultaneously with one of the set's periods at the summit, 21
became the first LP by a single artist to have led the Billboard 200 concurrently with three Hot 100 #1s. The feat was only previously achieved by the multi-artist Saturday Night Fever
soundtrack in 1978.
When this went to #1, Adele became the first British artist to have three chart-toppers from one album on the Hot 100 since George Michael in the late eighties.
In the week following Adele's six wins at the 2012 Grammys, this song remained at #2 on the Hot 100, "Rolling in the Deep," leapt 17-5 and "Someone Like You" jumped 11-7. With those advances, the English songbird became the first ever woman to place three songs in the top 10 concurrently as a lead artist. The previous four acts to do so were all male: The Beatles placed five titles in the top 10 in 1964, and The Bee Gees (1978), Usher (2004) and Chris Brown (2008) all achieved three.
Adele told Fraser T Smith that she wanted a more rhythmic approach than usual so he programmed a tom-tom drum loop, which provided the springboard for this song.
Adele won Best Pop Solo performance for her live version of this song at the 2013 Grammys, a year after the British Soul-Pop singer won six of six possible awards. "Honestly, I just wanted to come and be part of the night 'cause I Ioved it last year obviously," said Adele.