Kanye West dethrones Adele with You

The singer’s follow-up to 25 has sold almost three times as many copies as it made on release in 2015

The final chart position of Adele’s 25 was pushed out by a Kanye West single featuring a woman seen parading around in a see-through dress. Photograph: Mike Marsland/WireImage

Kanye West’s You Don’t Love Me was the highest-selling single of the week, selling 351,000 copies to overtake Adele’s new single Water Under the Bridge.

Adele’s comeback album, 26, meanwhile, has sold almost three times as many copies as 25 made in its first week on release in 2015.

Adele: ‘People always talk about pop and writing songs’ Read more

When 25 was released to sell-out crowds at her London home last December, it was the fastest-selling record in a year since Susan Boyle’s I Dreamed a Dream in 2009. It dominated the first half of the year, with more than 2.5m copies of the album sold, but fell to third place for its second weekend after the lead single Hello was dropped, and was then overtaken by West’s version of Famous. But with Water Under the Bridge, 26 comes third again, with over 1.6m copies so far.

Here’s what the critics say:

Guardian

Like many Adele fans, I was sickened when 25’s sales were massively topped up with vinyl and then by a bigger slice of the physical, multi-platform world that people continue to think of as the future of music. But it didn’t really matter. The album, the strongest of her career, was a groovy rock gem and 25 was an awesome record, feeling more wistful and precious than ever, more grown-up and romantic and poignant than ever. In the end, a gamble on the single Paradise, released on iTunes in November, just didn’t work, even if it was at No 5 on the official chart, 26’s first No 1. 20 years ago Adele was declared a martyr; now she’s a bona fide rock star.

The Independent

Instead of a big payout from streaming it is the gradual, inexorable rise of streaming music that has driven Adele’s gradual climb up the album chart, from fifth or sixth place to No 1 and No 3 (depending on whom you ask). The biggest iTunes sales come when one of her older hits, either at its original release or on streaming, is re-released or remixed or launched at alternative outlets. So, for example, before she rose to No 3, it was over streaming and she was far away from the top five; once her single Hello was released on iTunes, the trajectory changed dramatically. With single Water Under the Bridge, this week she’s only 5,000 sales from No 1, ending a run of three consecutive weeks in the top five. She has a new album and an audience (presumably strong) but, unlike Beyoncé, she has not been helped by a galaxy of A-list producers, such as Timbaland and Pharrell Williams, and by a release date a full year away from the album. The most important thing, however, is the chart position, which has propelled the album ever upwards.

Guardian art critic Adrian Searle

Listening to her return to the fore with yet another 3D-animated A-ha rap-pop construct from which many of us soon lost our minds, you have to wonder if Adele is not quite in the same league as Kanye West yet. Many of us have grown used to regularly beating her to the top spot; Kanye’s single is the catalyst for her apparent downfall – despite the fact that at half the price of her old album, water under the bridge might well be the one that finally yanks her off the top spot. But it’s such a strange and thrilling moment in pop. Knowing that the record itself was never released as a vinyl, CD or digital album, did this make any difference to the official chart?

The Bookseller

Adele’s sales are par for the course, and while this may be a part of the problem, how could these sales have been bettered? Water Under the Bridge is a feelgood pop anthem that is fairly short on substance and voice-stuffing when pitted against the likes of Lemonade. But it is a brilliant single. Adele’s stardom isn’t really based on pushing sales numbers either; her success can’t be explained by sales (album sales for 24 are almost equal to those sold in a single day last December), nor on the fact that she hasn’t been pushed away from streaming.

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