Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Rolling in the Deep

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Format  CD, digital download
Length  3:48
Genre  Pop, soul, blues
B-side  "If It Hadn't Been for Love"
Released  29 November 2010 (2010-11-29)
Recorded  June 2010; Eastcote Studios (London, England)

"Rolling in the Deep" is a song recorded by British singer Adele for her second studio album, 21. It is the lead single and opening track on the album. The song was written by Adele and Paul Epworth. The singer herself describes it as a "dark blues-y gospel disco tune". The largest crossover hit in the United States from the past 25 years, "Rolling in the Deep" gained radio airplay from many different radio formats. It was first released on 29 November 2010 as the lead single from 21 in digital download format. The lyrics describe the emotions of a scorned lover.


"Rolling in the Deep" was acclaimed by music critics and represented a commercial breakthrough for Adele, propelling her to international success. The song reached number one in 11 countries and the top five in many more regions. It was Adele's first number-one song in the United States, reaching the top spot on many Billboard charts, including the Billboard Hot 100 where it was number one for seven weeks. By February 2012, "Rolling in the Deep" had sold over 7.6 million copies in the United States, making it the highest-selling digital song by a female artist in the US, the second-best-selling digital song in the US and Adele's best-selling single outside her native country, topping her previous best-selling "Chasing Pavements". Worldwide, it was the fifth-best-selling digital single of 2011 with sales of 8.2 million copies, later going on to sell over 15 million copies. The song spent 65 weeks on the chart, making the song at that time the fourth-most weeks spent on the chart, tying the place with Jewel with her double single "Foolish Games"/"You Were Meant for Me".

In July, the video was nominated for seven MTV Video Music Awards nominations, making it the most nominated music video of the year. The video won three awards: Best Editing, Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction. "Rolling in the Deep" was also the Billboard Year End Hot 100 Number One Single of 2011. On 12 February 2012, "Rolling in the Deep" received three Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Short Form Music Video. Critics and music publications ranked the song highly on their end-of-year lists.

"Rolling in the Deep" is the fourth song to top the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles chart and to win both Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in the same year, after "Bridge over Troubled Water" by Simon & Garfunkel in 1970/1971, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack in 1972/1973, and "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes in 1981/1982.

Background and composition

In an interview Adele expressed her initial reservations prior to meeting Paul Epworth due to their divergent musical styles, but characterised their collaboration as "a match made in heaven." She also credited Epworth for her increased vocal confidence, stating, "He brought a lot out of me. He brought my voice out as well—there's notes that I hit in that song ("Rolling in the Deep") that I never even knew I could hit." According to reviewer Bill Lamb, "Rolling in the Deep" features "martial beats, pounding piano keys and chanting backing singers". Adele's vocals have been described as having a "hint of Wanda Jackson's dirty-blues growl". According to Nadine Cheung from AOL Radio Blog the song is "sung from the perspective of a scorned lover, who is finally able to see the light, but despite regretful sentiments, reconciliation is not an option here." "Rolling in the Deep" is written in the key of C minor (B minor for live performances), in common time with a tempo of 105 beats per minute. The accompaniment uses open fifths, in a progression of C5–G5–B5–G5–B5. Adele's voice spans from B3 to D5, the highest note sung using the head voice.

The song was reportedly inspired by a Nashville-schooled US tour bus driver, and composed by Epworth and Adele in a single afternoon following Adele's breakup with her boyfriend. It was "her reaction to, 'being told that my life was going to be boring and lonely and rubbish, and that I was a weak person if I didn't stay in the relationship. I was very insulted, and wrote that as a sort of "fuck you".'"

Critical reception

The song has received universal acclaim for Adele's vocals, its lyrics, and instrumentation. The Sun called the song "an epic, foot-stomper of a pop anthem with thumping piano and a vocal you would expect from a veteran of 20 years on the road." Lamb gave it a perfect score of 5, saying: "'Rolling In the Deep' [...] wastes no time in presenting the stunning bluesy authority of her voice. Less than five seconds in she begins proclaiming the rise of emotion that results in fantasies of revenge against a lover who has done her wrong. Here is a voice that can raise chills up the spine, and, when she is in a mood like this, the sense of foreboding will rivet your attention." Jason Lipshutz of Billboard magazine complimented the song's "sweeping chorus" and felt that the song "places a similar emphasis on its refrain but its multilayered instrumentation gives the English singer's wail a previously unheard depth". Lipshutz also praised Adele's vocal performance by writing, "Adele's noticeable leap in vocal confidence highlights the track. She gracefully lingers on the last line of the verses and attacks the sorrowful chorus' first words, 'We could have had it all,' head on." Rolling Stone magazine's Barry Walters gave the song a positive review stating, "'Rolling in the Deep' finds the 22-year-old in bluesy gospel mode, sounding powerful but not particularly pop. Starting with a stroked acoustic guitar, this breakup-mourning track builds to a stomping, hand-clapping climax that affirms the British knack for rejiggering the sound of American roots music."


The writers of Rolling Stone placed "Rolling in the Deep" at number one on their list of "50 Best Singles of 2011". Claire Suddath of Time magazine named "Rolling in the Deep" one of the Top 10 Songs of 2011. "Rolling in the Deep" won in the category for Best Track at the 2011 Q Awards. MTV chose the song as their "Song of the Year". Amy Lee of the American rock band Evanescence chose the song as her "Song of the Year" while voting Adele as the artist of the year. "Rolling in the Deep" received the Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Short Form Music Video at the 54th annual ceremony. The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop annual critics' poll ranked "Rolling in the Deep" as the top single of 2011 to find the best music of that year.

Commercial performance

In the UK, "Rolling in the Deep" debuted at number 2 (her second number 2 debut, after "Chasing Pavements"), behind Bruno Mars's "Grenade". The song spent the first ten weeks of its chart run in the top ten.

Upon its American release, "Rolling in the Deep" became Adele's second single to chart in the country. The song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 68 on 25 December 2010. Later on, it became her first ever single to top a Billboard chart when it reached number one on the Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks chart in March 2011, and became her first number one hit in the country when it topped the Billboard Hot 100 in May 2011. As a result, Adele became the first British singer to have topped both the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200 charts in the same week since Leona Lewis did the same back in 2008. In its 24th charting week, "Rolling in the Deep" stayed at number one, making it the latest single at the top since Lady Gaga's "Just Dance" spent its third and final week at number one in its 24th charting week as well. It stayed on top of the chart for seven straight weeks, the second longest run in 2011 behind Rihanna's "We Found Love", which spent eight weeks on top in 2011, and two weeks in 2012. It has been certified 8× platinum, and as of October 2015, "Rolling in the Deep" has sold 8.4 million digital copies in the United States, becoming the second-best-selling digital song overall and the best-selling digital song by a female artist. It was the second song to have crossed 8 million digital copies sold in the country. In France, despite not having been certified, the single has sold 348,900 copies and became one of the best-selling singles in France.

As of 26 July 2011, "Rolling in the Deep" was the third-best-selling digital single across Europe with 1.26 million copies sold. As of 5 November 2011 issue of Billboard, it had been number one on the Adult Contemporary chart for 19 consecutive weeks. "Rolling in the Deep" became Adele's label XL Recordings' best-selling single, overtaking M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" released in 2008 which until 2011 held the record. The song became also the longest-charting release in Finland, peaking at number one and charting for 50 weeks.

In 2013, as a celebration of the chart's 55th Anniversary, Billboard counted down the 100 biggest Hot 100 hits ever, the song was ranked at 31.

Music video

The music video for "Rolling in the Deep," directed by Sam Brown, premiered on Channel 4 on 3 December 2010. The video begins in an abandoned house, where Adele is sitting in a chair singing. During the video, the scenes show hundreds of glasses filled with water that vibrate to the beat of a drum. Jennifer White, who also choreographed the sequence, dances in a room kicking up white flour. The drummer plays his drums under the stairs, and china is thrown breaking on a piece of suspended plywood at the bottom of a staircase. There is a white model of a city which is set on fire by five bursting light bulbs at the end of the song.

Critical reception

The video met with critical acclaim, with most critics praising its dark tone and simplicity.


On 20 July 2011, the music video was nominated for seven MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year, Best Female Video, Best Pop Video and Best Direction, and won three for Best Editing, Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction. The video won the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video on 12 February 2012. As of March 2017, the music video has received over 1.07 billion views on YouTube.


Adele performed the song several times. On 24 November 2010, the singer appeared on Dutch presenter Paul de Leeuw's Madiwodovrij Show to perform the song for the first time. She also performed it on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in the United States on 3 December 2010. The song was also performed in front of the Royal Family at the Royal Variety Performance, on 9 December 2010; the performance was broadcast 16 December 2010. On Alan Carr: Chatty Man in the United Kingdom on 17 January 2011. On 21 January 2011, Adele performed "Rolling in the Deep" in the finale of The Voice of Holland where she also performed "Make You Feel My Love" with finalist Kim de Boer. On 26 January 2011, she performed the song in the French television show Le Grand Journal. The song has also been featured in a television spot for the 2011 film I Am Number Four, in which it is also featured. As part of a promotional tour in North America for the album, Adele performed the song on Late Show with David Letterman on 21 February 2011, on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on 24 February 2011, on 1 March 2011 on MTV Live, and Dancing with the Stars on 10 May 2011.

Media usage

"Rolling in the Deep" first gained attention when it was used in a trailer for the film I Am Number Four and in the film itself. It has since been featured in several television series such as in 90210's third season, in Doctor Who's sixth series premiere, in One Tree Hill's eighth season, in Gossip Girl's fourth-season finale, The Secret Life of the American Teenager's fourth season. and in the Scandal's Pilot promo. "Rolling in the Deep" was used as the theme song for E4's reality series Made in Chelsea and appeared in So You Think You Can Dance's eighth season during contestant Mitchell Kelly's solo performance. In Renny Harlin's 2016 film Skiptrace, a drunk Jackie Chan sang "Rolling in the Deep" at the tune of local instruments in a Mongolian village only to be taken by surprise by how the song was already popular among the non-English speaking locals, when they started to sing with him.

The instrumental of the song was used in Apple Inc's marketing video for the iPhone 4S. It was also featured in CBC's intro to Game 1 of the hockey 2011 Stanley Cup Finals between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins. while the song's instrumentals were played heavily in promos during the 2011 NBA Draft. The song was played in the background during the parade of athletes at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

In early 2016, US businessman and media personality Donald Trump began using "Rolling in the Deep" as warm-up music at rallies during his campaign to become that year's Republican Party candidate for President of the United States, prompting Adele to issue a statement distancing herself from Trump. A spokesperson for the singer confirmed that "Adele has not given permission for her music to be used for any political campaigning." The song is one of two by Adele that Trump used as part of his campaign, the other being "Skyfall". Trump continued to use the songs despite Adele's objections. Commentators, including David Lister of The Independent, have noted that United States Copyright law does not prevent politicians from using pieces of music at their rallies, providing the venue has a public performance licence.

Track listing

  • Digital download
    1. "Rolling in the Deep" – 3:48
  • Digital EP
    1. "Rolling in the Deep" – 3:48
    2. "Rolling in the Deep (Jamie xx Shuffle)" – 4:17
    3. "Rolling in the Deep (Acapella)" – 3:56
    4. "Rolling in the Deep (Avicii Remix)" – 4:25
  • CD single
    1. "Rolling in the Deep" – 3:48
    2. "If It Hadn't Been for Love" (written by Mike Henderson and Chris Stapleton) – 3:09
  • The Remixes
    1. Rolling In The Deep (Downtown London Remix) – 3:52

    Credits and personnel

  • Lead vocals, backing vocals, stiletto heel tapping – Adele
  • Songwriting – Adele Adkins, Paul Epworth
  • Production, bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, percussion and backing vocals – Paul Epworth
  • Mixing – Tom Elmhirst
  • Mixing assistant – Dan Parry
  • Piano – Neil Cowley
  • Drums – Leo Taylor
  • Recording Engineer – Mark Rankin
  • Mastering – Tom Coyne
  • Credits adapted from liner notes:

    Linkin Park cover

    "Rolling in the Deep" was covered by American rock band Linkin Park and was included in their live EP, iTunes Festival. It has entered the UK Rock Singles Charts at number 1, and UK Singles chart at number 42 although it has not been released as a single. The song was covered twice by the band, one was a LPU meeting and one was in The Roundhouse during the ITunes Festival. The song was well received by the UK. "Rolling in the Deep" was sent to alternative radio stations as a promotional single on 8 July 2011.

    Other covers

    The song became popular and has been covered by various artists including David Cook, Ariana Grande, Haley Reinhart, Nicole Scherzinger, The Overtones and rapper Lil Wayne. In January 2011, Jamie xx remixed the song, on top of which Childish Gambino later added a rap verse. In February 2011, Mike Posner released a cover of the song. Idolator described his version as "a very cool electronic piece that still somehow manages to retain the heartbroken feel of Adele's original tune." The same month, Scottish band Kassidy also covered the song. John Legend uploaded an R&B a cappella version of the song in April 2011 on SoundCloud. "Rolling in the Deep" was then covered by Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff of Glee for the second season episode "Prom Queen". The single charted at number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at 49 on the UK Singles Chart and was later released on the album Glee: The Music, Volume 6. At the 2011 iTunes Festival, Linkin Park performed an acoustic version of the song as part of their set, with Chester Bennington as the lead vocalist and Mike Shinoda on the piano. This recording was released to the iTunes Store as a single, debuting at number 42 on the UK Singles Chart. Black Stone Cherry have covered the song live on several occasions, and it was covered by Celine Dion on her Las Vegas Show.

    On 14 July 2011, Patti Smith covered "Rolling in the Deep" during a performance at the Castle Clinton. In July 2011, PS22 Chorus sang the song at the Newport Folk Festival. Quentin Elias released a cover of the song as a single on 6 September 2011. It also appears on his EP I Can Do Bad All By Myself released simultaneously. Pop-Punk band, Go Radio covered the song for the compilation CD Punk Goes Pop 4, released by Fearless Records. The Collective performed the song on the third season of The Sing-Off. A version as also done by The Piano Guys that was uploaded to YouTube on 7 September 2011. October 2011, Misha B performed a 'show-stopping' cover of the track on the eighth season of The X Factor regarded by the Daily Telegraph as one of the highlights of the series. The Telegraph noted that Misha B delivered "impressive soulful vocals and a quirky rapping style" injecting it with a "fresh UK urban twist". Mexican sibling trio Vazquez Sounds released a cover version which quickly became popular on YouTube. It was later released as a single in Mexico and was certified platinum by AMPROFON. Popular child singer and Britain's Got Talent 2007 finalist Connie Talbot has also covered the song on her YouTube channel on YouTube and received over 20 million hits. Because Connie's version was recorded with a camera, it was later re-mixed on YouTube in order for the music to be heard better. On 12 June 2012, Celine Dion covered the song at her Vegas show at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, before she performed the song, she told the crowd, "I love Adele so much. She's amazing." A cover by metalcore band Amyst was played to Adele by Jonathan Ross on his TV show in September 2011, to a poor reception from Adele, who along with Ross dismissed it as "screamo". The Spanish Band Auryn covered the song in their album Endless Road, 7058 released on 18 October 2011.

    Gille, a mysterious Japanese singer who became an online sensation for her English covers of Japanese pop songs, uploaded a cover of "Rolling in the Deep" to her YouTube channel on 31 January 2012. This version was later released in Japan as part of her debut album on 18 July 2012.

    In 2013, Straight No Chaser covered the song on their Under the Influence album.

    On 2 April 2016, Kevin Simm performed the song in the semi-final stage of The Voice UK.

    Aretha Franklin cover

    In 2014, Aretha Franklin covered the song on her Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics album. It was released 29 September 2014 as the collection's lead single. This version peaked at number one on the US dance chart, giving Aretha Franklin her sixth number one on the chart. It also debuted at number 47 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Franklin thus becomes the first female, and fourth artist overall (following Lil Wayne, Jay Z and James Brown), to place 100 songs on the charts (with her first entry on the chart being "Today I Sing the Blues" in 1960).


    Rolling in the Deep Wikipedia