25 is the third studio album by British singer and songwriter Adele. It was released on 20 November 2015, through XL Recordings. Following the release and international success of her second studio album 21, Adele considered quitting the music industry and going out on a positive note. However, she decided to take a hiatus instead and raise her son. During her sabbatical, she suffered from writer’s block and rescheduled studio sessions for a new album, fearing she had lost her ability to write songs. In 2013, Adele had a breakthrough and the material that eventually became 25 manifested, with writing and recording continuing through 2015.
Titled as a reflection of her life and frame of mind at 25 years old, 25 is a “make-up record”. The album’s lyrical content features themes of Adele “yearning for her old self, her nostalgia”, and “melancholia about the passage of time” according to an interview with the singer by Rolling Stone, as well as themes of motherhood and regret. In contrast to Adele’s previous works, the production of 25 incorporated the use of electronic elements and creative rhythmic patterns, with elements of 1980s R&B and organs. Like 21, Adele worked with producer and songwriter Paul Epworth and Ryan Tedder, along with new collaborations with Max Martin and Shellback, Greg Kurstin, Danger Mouse, the Smeezingtons, Samuel Dixon, and Tobias Jesso Jr.
25 received generally positive reviews from music critics, who commended Adele’s vocal performance and the album’s production. The album was a massive commercial success, debuting at number one in more than 25 markets and broke first-week sales records in multiple countries, including the United Kingdom and United States; in the US, the album sold 3.38 million copies in its first week of release, marking the largest single-week sales for an album since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking point-of-sale music purchases in 1991. 25 eventually became the world’s best-selling album of 2015 with 17.4 million copies sold within the year,and has sold 20 million copies as of June 2016, making it one of the best selling albums worldwide.
Following 21, it was certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting shipments of ten million copies in the United States, making Adele the only artist of the 2010s to achieve this certification with two albums. Many journalists felt that the album impacted the music industry by encouraging the public to return to buying physical albums, instead of downloading or streaming. 25 received the BRIT Award for British Album of the Year, while the lead single “Hello” won British Single of the Year. The album then received Grammy Award nominations for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album, with “Hello” receiving nominations for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance.