By the end of the year, her sophomore album, "21," had passed 10 million copies sold in the U.S., only the 21st album in the Nielsen SoundScan era (begun in 1991) to achieve diamond status. Buoyed by hits like "Someone Like You" and "Rolling in the Deep" long after its release in early 2011, "21" was also the top-selling album on iTunes for the second year running.
As David Panian, news editor for Michigan's Daily Telegram, put it: "It just seemed like you couldn't turn on the radio without hearing one of her songs."
Women have had a lock on the annual Entertainer of the Year selection. Previous winners include Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Betty White and Tina Fey. Stephen Colbert is the lone male winner in the six-year history of voting.
The Grammy Awards in February were essentially the de-facto crowning of the 24-year-old Adele, whose real name is Adele Adkins, as a pop queen. She won six awards, including album of the year. It was also a comeback of sorts for Adele, who performed for the first time since having vocal cord surgery, drawing a standing ovation from the Staples Center crowd.
Accepting the album of the year award, a teary Adele exclaimed: "Mum, girl did good!" The emotional, sniffling singer endeared many viewers to her when she copped in her acceptance speech to having "a bit of snot."
"This record is inspired by something that is really normal and everyone's been through it: just a rubbish relationship," said Adele.
But her luck in love has since turned, thanks to her boyfriend Simon Konecki. In an interview with Vogue magazine, Adele said she was through with break-up records and done being "a bitter witch." When Adele announced in June that she was having a baby with Konecki, her website promptly crashed under the heavy traffic. Their son was born in October.
With such an avalanche of success and now a mother of a newborn son, Adele has understandably taken a step out of the spotlight. One notable exception was recording the opening credits theme song to "Skyfall." The song was recorded with her "21" producer Paul Epworth at the Abbey Road Studios in London with a 77-piece orchestra. Within hours, it zoomed to the top of digital charts.
"There was an overwhelming embrace of Adele and her music," said Joe Butkiewicz, executive editor of the Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. "And that was never more evident to me than when I heard teenagers express their enthusiastic expectations for the new James Bond movie because Adele performed the theme song."
The song recently received a Golden Globe nomination. No Bond theme has ever won the best original song Oscar, but given Adele's awards success thus far, it wouldn't be a stretch to think she has a chance of changing that. The tune is among the 75 short-listed songs in the Academy Awards category.