Adele's '21' May Return to No. 1, In Time for Mother's Day
Adele's '21' May Return to No. 1, In Time for Mother's Day

'21' SALUTE: As Adele's "21" tops the Billboard 200 for a 17th week, the set moves closer to the mark for most weeks at No. 1 for an album by a woman. In the 56-year history of the survey, only the Whitney Houston-led soundtrack to "The Bodyguard" has reigned longer among solo females (20 weeks, 1992-93).

Thus, the magic number of weeks at the summit that "21" will need to become the longest-leading album by a female artist? 21.

(The album continues its reign on the Billboard 200 by holding off the set that debuts directly below it at No. 2: "Kidz Bop Kids 21").

Billboard.com reader prumjabi88 commented that 21 is already a lucky number for Adele. "Set Fire to the Rain" becomes the third Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 from "21" in its 21st week on the chart (rising 2-1).

Adele sure has come a long way since her first Hot 100 entry, "Chasing Pavements." The week of Feb. 28, 2009, the song peaked at No. 21.

On the Official U.K. Albums chart this week, Adele equals Queen and Oasis' marks for most total weeks at No. 1: 21. She's led for 20 weeks with "21" and one with predecessor set "19" in 2008.

With 3.9 million copies sold in the U.K., "21" has passed the late Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black" as the country's best-selling album since 2000.

Or, since the start of the 21st century.

(Or, considering the set's dominance, the "21" century).

EVER-'LAST'-ING: One of Adele's biggest influences? Etta James.

Upon the release of "21" last year, Adele told NPR that the R&B/soul legend, who passed away Friday (Jan. 20) at 73, shaped her affinity for blues that readily infuses the set.

"I saw the most stunning woman I've ever seen in my life," Adele recalled of first finding a James hits compilation album. "She had this beehive weave, and these catty eyes, and this seductive figure, and this look on her face, like, 'Don't mess with me.'

"She went right through me," Adele said of the "At Last" crooner. "It was the first time that I'd ever been so moved by someone's voice. It was like she was singing (material directly to) me, about me, 50 years after she recorded it."

Adele mused that she can't picture enjoying the adulation and longevity that marked James' career.

"I'd love to," she said, "but it's pretty unlikely."

'FIRE' AND REIGN: The Hot 100 coronation of "Set Fire to the Rain" marks the eighth song with "fire" in its title to top the tally and the fifth No. 1 with "rain" in its name.

The eight "fire" leaders that clearly put the "hot" in Hot 100:

Title, Artist, Date Reached No. 1 (Weeks at No. 1)
"Light My Fire," the Doors, July 29, 1967 (three)
"Fire," Ohio Players, Feb. 8, 1975 (one)
"Chariots of Fire - Titles," Vangelis, May 8, 1982 (one)
"St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)," John Parr, Sept. 7, 1985 (two)
"We Didn't Start the Fire," Billy Joel, Dec. 9, 1989 (two)
"Fireflies," Owl City, Nov. 7, 2009 (two)
"Firework," Katy Perry, Dec. 18, 2010 (four)
"Set Fire to the Rain," Adele, Feb. 4, 2012 (one to-date)

... and the five "rain" songs that have reigned:

"Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," B.J. Thomas, Jan. 3, 1970 (four)
"Laughter in the Rain," Neil Sedaka, Feb. 1, 1975 (one)
"I Love a Rainy Night," Eddie Rabbitt, Feb. 28, 1981 (two)
"Blame It on the Rain," Milli Vanilli, Nov. 25, 1989 (two)
"Set Fire to the Rain," Adele, Feb. 4, 2012 (one to-date)

(A song just shy of both lists: James Taylor's "Fire and Rain." The ballad peaked at No. 3 in 1970).

Parr's update of "St. Elmo's Fire" - "Tim Tebow's Fire" - has sold 1,000 downloads in its two weeks of release, according to Nielsen SoundScan. After the New England Patriots' 45-10 rout of the Denver Broncos (Jan. 14) ended the quarterback's well-documented season, the song slumped by 73% in sales this week.

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