Set Fire to the Rain

Album: 21 (2011)
Charted: 11 1
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • 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.

Comments: 4

  • Licia from Nigeria Warri Delta StateI Love All Of Adele Songs She Is My Mentor sometimes It Feels Like She Sings About Me
  • Jeff from Austin, TxI'm no Adele fan, but this is a truly great song. The melody of the chorus is brilliant.
  • Megan from Stevenson, AlThis is TRUE TALENT!!! Amazing! Wow, I just love how real she is when she sings.
  • Arnschats from Byblos, Vatican CityRaw emotions rendered with a divine voice in a magnificent song. I'm 49 years old and I have never heard anything like this in my life! Adele.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Dean Friedman - "Ariel"

Dean Friedman - "Ariel"They're Playing My Song

Dean's saga began with "Ariel," a song about falling in love with a Jewish girl from New Jersey.

Paul Williams

Paul WilliamsSongwriter Interviews

He's a singer and an actor, but as a songwriter Paul helped make Kermit a cultured frog, turned a bank commercial into a huge hit and made love both "exciting and new" and "soft as an easy chair."

Francis Rossi of Status Quo

Francis Rossi of Status QuoSongwriter Interviews

Doubt led to drive for Francis, who still isn't sure why one of Status Quo's biggest hits is so beloved.

Michael Schenker

Michael SchenkerSongwriter Interviews

The Scorpions and UFO guitarist is also a very prolific songwriter - he explains how he writes with his various groups, and why he was so keen to get out of Germany and into England.

Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty

Rob Thomas of Matchbox TwentySongwriter Interviews

Rob Thomas on his Social Distance Sessions, co-starring with a camel, and his friendship with Carlos Santana.

Annie Haslam of Renaissance

Annie Haslam of RenaissanceSongwriter Interviews

The 5-octave voice of the classical rock band Renaissance, Annie is big on creative expression. In this talk, she covers Roy Wood, the history of the band, and where all the money went in the '70s.