19 is the debut studio album by British singer Adele. It was first released on 28 January 2008, through XL Recordings. Following Adele's graduation from the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology in May 2006, she began publishing songs and recorded a three-song demo for a class project and gave it to a friend. The friend posted the demo on Myspace, where it became very successful and led to interest from XL Recordings. This led to Adele signing a recording contract with the label and providing vocals for Jack Peñate, during this session for Peñate's song she met producer Jim Abbiss, who would go on to produce the majority of her debut album.
Adele wrote most of the album's material solely, but did work with a select few writers and producers including Jim Abbiss, Eg White and Sacha Skarbek. Their collaborations created a blue-eyed soul album with lyrics describing heartbreak and relationship. Upon release, 19 received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised the singer's vocals and noted her as having the "potential to become among the most respected and inspiring international artists of her generation." 19 also won and was nominated for numerous accolades including a Mercury Prize, and the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. The second single, "Chasing Pavements" also won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards.
Four singles were released from the album, with "Chasing Pavements" and "Make You Feel My Love" reaching the top ten on the UK Singles Chart and the former becoming Adele's first Billboard Hot 100 entry. 19 debuted at number one on the UK charts during its release, and was certified seven times platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) with sales of over 2 million copies. Peaking at number four on the US Billboard 200 in 2012, the album has also sold over 3 million copies in the United States and an estimated 7 million copies worldwide.
Adele graduated from the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology in Croydon in May 2006, where she was a classmate of Leona Lewis and Jessie J. Adele credits the school with nurturing her talent even though, at the time, she was more interested in going into A&R and hoped to launch other people's careers. Four months after graduation, she published two songs on the fourth issue of the online arts publication PlatformsMagazine.com. She had recorded a three-song demo for a class project and given it to a friend. The friend posted the demo on Myspace, where it became very successful and led to a phone call from Richard Russell, boss of the music label XL Recordings. She doubted if the offer was real because the only record company she knew was Virgin Records, and she took a friend with her to the meeting.
Nick Huggett, at XL, recommended Adele to manager Jonathan Dickins at September Management, and in June 2006, Dickins became her official representative. September was managing Jamie T at the time and this proved a major draw for Adele, a big fan of the British singer-songwriter. Huggett then signed Adele to XL in September 2006. Adele provided vocals for Jack Peñate's song, "My Yvonne," for his debut album, and it was during this session she first met producer Jim Abbiss, who would go on to produce both the majority of her debut album, 19, and tracks on 21. Adele recorded a cover of Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love" on the recommendation of her manager Jonathan Dickins, who loved the song.
The first single released from 19 was "Chasing Pavements", which Adele wrote in collaboration with Eg White. "Chasing Pavements" was inspired by an incident Adele had with a former boyfriend of six months. After learning he had cheated on her, she went to the bar he was at and punched him in the face. After being thrown out, Adele walked down the street alone and thought to herself, "What is it you're chasing? You're chasing an empty pavement." She sang and recorded it on her mobile phone and arranged the chords when she got home. Adele and White co-wrote two other songs for the album: "Melt My Heart to Stone" and "Tired". She also collaborated with Sacha Skarbek on the single "Cold Shoulder". However, most of the songs were written solely by Adele, including "Best for Last", "Crazy for You", "First Love", and "My Same", as well as her debut single, "Hometown Glory". "Hometown Glory", was written by Adele in 10 minutes after her mother tried to persuade her to leave her home town of West Norwood in London for university.
In July 2008, Adele informed noted UK soul writer Pete Lewis of the award-winning Blues & Soul that the reason for naming her debut album '19' was to reflect her age while she was writing it: "I just kinda remember becoming a bit of a woman during that time. And I think that is definitely documented in the songs." The Taiwanese edition was released on 5 March. As well as the standard track list, the album features three bonus tracks: "That's It I Quit I'm Movin' On" ("Chasing Pavements" B-side), "Now and Then" ("Cold Shoulder" B-side) and "Painting Pictures" ("Make You Feel My Love" B-side). The Indonesian special edition was released on 3 March. As well as the standard track list, the album features a bonus video for "Chasing Pavements".
By 2008, Adele had become the headliner and performed an acoustic set, in which she was supported by Damien Rice. She embarked on a short North American tour in the same month, and 19 was released in the US in June. Billboard magazine stated of it: "Adele truly has potential to become among the most respected and inspiring international artists of her generation." The An Evening with Adele world tour began in May 2008 and ended in June 2009.
She later cancelled the 2008 US tour dates to be with a former boyfriend. She said in Nylon magazine in June 2009, "I'm like, 'I can't believe I did that.' It seems so ungrateful.... I was drinking far too much and that was kind of the basis of my relationship with this boy. I couldn't bear to be without him, so I was like, 'Well, OK, I'll just cancel my stuff then.'" By the middle of October 2008, Adele's attempt to break in America appeared to have failed. But then she was booked as the musical guest on the 18 October 2008 episode of NBC's Saturday Night Live. The episode, which included an expected appearance by then US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, earned the program its best ratings in 14 years with 17 million viewers. Adele performed "Chasing Pavements" and "Cold Shoulder," and the following day, 19 topped the iTunes charts and ranked at number five at Amazon.com while "Chasing Pavements" rose into the top 25. The album reached number 11 on the Billboard 200 as a result, a jump of 35 places over the previous week.
19 received generally positive reviews from critics. The album holds a 68 out of 100 rating, based on 19 critical reviews, at Metacritic. The Observer's Caspar Llewellyn Smith wrote in his review, "The way [Adele] stretched the vowels, her wonderful soulful phrasing, the sheer unadulterated pleasure of her voice, stood out all the more; little doubt that she's a rare singer, which another track first available on her MySpace site, 'Daydreamer', confirmed" they gave the album a five-star response. "Pitching up somewhere between blues, folk and jazz, she's included something for everyone without ever pandering to a particular trend", wrote Chris Long from BBC Music. "Her melodies exude warmth, her singing is occasionally stunning and, in the dramatic Hometown Glory, the spiky cool of Cold Shoulder (which is unexpectedly reminiscent of Shara Nelson-era Massive Attack) and the piano epic Make You Feel My Love, she has tracks that make Lily Allen and Kate Nash sound every bit as ordinary as they are." Chuck Taylor said in Billboard that "Adele truly has potential to become among the most respected and inspiring international artists of her generation." Mikael Wood was less impressed in Entertainment Weekly, writing that "Adele's songs aren't as sharp as Duffy's...Still, her singing throughout is a thing to behold." Uncut was more critical, believing that "Adele can certainly sing, but '19' reeks of some A&R trendhound making it his/her biz to sign The New Amy and not resting till s/he's found the right chick from South London to fit the bill". According to NME, "as ‘19’ reveals itself, it’s clear that the Amy associations are little more than empty mediaspeak without any real weight. Despite the early indicators, there’s precious little on the album that prevents it from collapsing under the weight of its own expectation".
Adele became the first recipient of the Brit Awards Critics' Choice and was named the number-one predicted breakthrough act of 2008 in an annual BBC poll of music critics, Sound of 2008. The Times Encyclopedia of Modern Music named 19 an "essential" blue-eyed soul recording. The album was nominated for the 2008 Mercury Prize in the category of Best Album. She also won an Urban Music Award for "Best Jazz Act." She also received a Q Awards nomination in the category of Breakthrough Act and a Music of Black Origin nomination in the category of Best UK Female. On 3 December 2008, the album spawned four Grammy Award nominations: Best New Artist, and Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Chasing Pavements". The following year, she received a second consecutive nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, for "Hometown Glory", but lost to "Halo" by Beyoncé.
Her success occurred simultaneously with several other British female soul singers, with the British press dubbing her a new Amy Winehouse. This was described as a third British Musical Invasion of the US. However, Adele called the comparisons between her and other female soul singers lazy, noting "we're a gender, not a genre". AllMusic wrote that "Adele is simply too magical to compare her to anyone." Following the release of her debut album 19, Kanye West and Beyoncé were among the artists vocal in their praise of her music. Beyoncé cited Adele as one of the influences for her fourth album, 4.
In the United Kingdom, the album debuted at number one. In the same week as 21 was released, 19 re-entered the UK Albums Chart at number 4, with sales of 25,419 copies. On 6 February 2011, the album remained on the chart at number 4, with strengthening sales of 27,660 copies. It was the second best selling album of 2011 in the United Kingdom, behind 21, as it tripled its 2008 seven non-consecutive week-long top 10-visit with 21 straight weeks. As of March 2016, 19 has sold over 2,309,000 copies in the United Kingdom. In Ireland, due to the success of 21, the album returned to its peak position of number 3 on the week ending 18 March 2011, three years after it originally peaked, just to set a new high at number 2 on the following week and to stay there for six non-consecutive weeks, behind 21. The album debuted at number 16 on the New Zealand Albums Chart, due to the success of 21 and has peaked at number 3.
In the United States, 19 debuted at number 61 and remained in the lower ends of the Billboard 200 for many proceeding weeks. After a performance on the US show Saturday Night Live, it rose to number 46 and a week later to number 11 with 25,000+ copies sold. In 2009, after winning two Grammy Awards, the album rose to number 10 on the US Billboard 200 and total sales reached 843,880. In February 2012, 19 reached a new peak of number 4 on the Billboard 200, and the album is now a certified double platinum by the certified (RIAA) in the United States. As of the week ending 24 April 2011, 19 was a number one on the Top Pop Catalog Albums for nine weeks, making it only the third album by a female artist to top that chart at least that long in the past 20 years. On the following week, it stayed at number one on the chart, making it the first studio album doing so since Michael Jackson's Thriller 25 was at number one for 11 weeks in 2008. Months later, it had moved up from number 27 to number 16 on Billboard 200, topping the Top Pop Catalog Albums for the sixteenth week. During 2012, 19 was the tenth best-selling album in the United States, giving Adele two albums in the top ten (21 being number-one).