Up until yesterday Taylor Swift held the record for most YouTube views in 24 hours with her video for “Bad Blood.” That video was a mega-production that featured about two dozen cameos, with many teasers on social media, and it premiered during the Billboard Music Awards. All that got her 20.1 million views in a single day which is pretty impressive.
Yesterday, Adele dropped her first single in three years, “Hello”, with virtually no fanfare or advance warning. It racked up 25 million views in its first 24 hours on YouTube.
It’d be easy to make this some kind of “thing” between pop artists and “real singers” but the truth is that Adele is just the more dominant artist overall. She doesn’t court the spotlight the way Swift does, and she’s not as immersed in social media, but she’s a reliable artist whose last album sold 30 million copies worldwide and was the top selling album in the US for longer than any other album in the last 30 years. Taylor Swift is a great pop star, but her music and image is pretty firmly directed to a specific market (girls between about 8 and 14) whereas Adele has more broad appeal worldwide.
The video is below. It’s about trying to connect with people from your past to make amends. The production is minimal, the instrumentation is sparse, Adele’s voice is the star here and it’s just as big and rich as you remember. And if she made you cry before, you can bet your sweet ass she will make you cry again. I think she might be some new kind of vampire who feeds on the salty tears of mortals who are howling tunelessly along to cathartic songs blasting from their laptop speakers. If she is an immortal being, that would explain why she’s still using a flip phone in the video. If you’re a centuries old emotional succubus, ten years of technological development probably seems like a blink.