Adele released her second studio album, 21, in early 2011. The album was well received critically and surpassed the success of her debut, earning the singer numerous awards in 2012, including a record-tying six Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year; two Brit Awards, including British Album of the Year, and three American Music Awards. The album has been certified 16 times platinum in the UK and is the fourth best-selling album in the UK of all time. In the US, it has held the top position longer than any album since 1985 and is certified Diamond. The album has sold 31 million copies worldwide.
The success of 21 earned Adele numerous mentions in the Guinness Book of World Records. She is the first woman in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 to have three simultaneous top 10 singles as a lead artist, and the first female artist to simultaneously have two albums in the top five of the Billboard 200 and two singles in the top five of the Billboard Hot 100. 21 is the longest-running number one album by a female solo artist in the history of the UK and US Album Charts. In 2012, she released "Skyfall", which she wrote and recorded for the James Bond film of the same name. The song won an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. After taking a three-year break, Adele released her third studio album, 25, on 20 November 2015. The album debuted at number one in most major markets and broke first-week sales records in the UK and US. The lead single, "Hello", debuted at number one in many countries around the world, and became the first song in the US to sell over one million digital copies within a week of its release.
In 2011 and 2012, Billboard named Adele Artist of the Year. In 2012, she was listed at number five on VH1's 100 Greatest Women in Music, and Time magazine named her one of the most influential people in the world. With sales of more than 100 million records, Adele is one of the best-selling recording artists in the world.
2006–10: Beginnings and 19
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.
2011–14: 21, worldwide recognition and hiatus
Adele released her second studio album, 21, on 24 January 2011 in the UK and 22 February in the US. She said that the album was inspired by the break-up with her former partner. The album's sound is described as a classic and contemporary country and roots music. The change in sound from her first album was the result of her bus driver playing contemporary music from Nashville when she was touring the American South, and the title reflected the growth she had experienced in the prior two years. Adele told Spin Magazine: "It was really exciting for me because I never grew up around [that music]." 21 hit number 1 in more than 26 countries, including the UK and the US.
On 27 August 2015, Billboard reported that Adele's label, XL Recordings, had intentions of releasing her third studio album sometime in November 2015. Danger Mouse has contributed a song while Tobias Jesso Jr. has written a track, and Ryan Tedder is "back in the mix after producing and co-writing "Rumour Has It" on 21." At the 72nd Venice International Film Festival in early September 2015, Sia announced that her new single "Alive" was co-written by Adele, and had originally been intended for Adele's third album. On 18 October, a 30-second clip of new material from Adele was shown on UK television during a commercial break on The X Factor. The commercial teases a snippet from a new song from her third album, with viewers hearing a voice singing accompanied by lyrics on a black screen.