Adele's new single "Hello" arrived at radio at 2:30 a.m. eastern on Friday, Oct. 23. By morning-drive, it was already blasting to listeners nationwide. The superstar also checked in (by phone from England) with multiple interviews, including Elvis Duran and the Morning Show, syndicated from its home base at WHTZ (Z100) New York.
"I was so frightened that no one cared," Adele told Duran. Her fears were entirely unfounded.
In its first day of play, radio gave Adele's new music an incredibly enthusiastic hello. Co-written by Adele and Greg Kurstin, and produced by the latter (who also plays bass, guitar, piano and keyboards, with Adele even credited as a drummer), the ballad and first single from her third Columbia Records studio album, 25, due Nov. 20, immediately went into radio rotation. (Among other hits, Kurstin co-wrote Kelly Clarkson's three-week Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" and P!nk's No. 5-peaking "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)," both hits in 2012.)
According to Nielsen Music, "Hello" drew 1,736 plays Friday, translating to 17.5 million in all-format U.S. audience, making it the fourth-most-heard song on radio. (Many iHeartMedia-owned stations at the pop, adult pop and adult contemporary formats played the song hourly for most of the day.)
While the airplay speaks for itself, radio's decision-makers still have plenty to say about the initial preview of Adele's first album since 2011's 21, which has sold 11.2 million copies in the U.S., making it the 10th best-selling set since Nielsen Music began tracking sales in 1991. (In 2012, Adele reached No. 8 on the Hot 100 with her James Bond soundtrack single "Skyfall.")
Here is a sampling of top radio programmers' universally high opinions of "Hello."
Kid Kelly, SiriusXM VP music programming
"'Hello' will be a No. 1 song across several formats and 25 will be a multi-dimensional No. 1 album, not only for the holidays but throughout the new year. She'll set a new benchmark for sales in the U.S. and worldwide. Sure bet, print that."
Sharon Dastur, iHeartMedia senior VP programming integration
"It's incredible. With an artist like Adele, expectations are already set so high, and she's far exceeded those expectations. She draws you in with her compelling storytelling and really has a voice like no other. I can't tell you how excited I am for this project."
Mark Medina, WHTZ New York program director
"'Hello' is a powerful song, with a very relatable story told the way only Adele can tell it. It's great to have her back on the radio. She's already iconic."
Andrew Jeffries, iHeartMedia senior VP programming Los Angeles/Seattle/San Diego
"Love it. As the years roll on, Adele gets better and better. I gave the 21 album a score of '21 out of 21.' Now, it appears I need to adjust the scale to '25 out of 25.'"
Tommy Chuck, WIHT Washington, D.C., pd
"I think it's smart of her to stick to her familiar sound [a piano ballad]. She's been away for quite a while and listeners have really been missing her. I love it, and initial fan reaction has been overwhelmingly positive."
Rita Houston, WFUV New York pd; Russ Borris, WFUV music director
RB: "It's amazing what power, passion and emotion Adele can convey in a single note. She is one of the very few artists that make you feel what she feels in a four-minute song."
RH: "I love how Adele maintains artistic cred while being a massive pop star. A rare combination, indeed."
Jeremy Rice, WBLI Nassau, N.Y., pd
"'Hello' is a strong record that cuts through with today's women [ages] 18 to 34. There is no 'top 40 expiration date' set for her yet, like how Celine Dion or Barbara Streisand got way too AC after great runs. We love it."
Mike Mullaney, WBMX Boston assistant pd/md
"The amount of passion for this artist and this song is truly incredible. Just look at social media, people's reaction to the song and support for her as an artist. She is just dominating Facebook and Twitter.
It's the biggest buzz since Taylor Swift dropped 1989. Why? The reason is that she seems to be the voice of so many people's heartbreaks, of difficult relationships. And, she's doing so with the best voice, the most emotional delivery and truly the best songs of any artist."
Chris Patyk, KEGY/KYXY San Diego pd
"For pop radio, 'Hello' is an event record. If watching the feeds on social media are an indicator, the new Adele is going to be a phenomenon. I've seen everyone I know in radio from formats as vast as country, rock and pop all rave. I'd say that's pretty mass-appeal."
Tony Lorino, WSTR Atlanta pd
"I think a ton of people are crying in their cars as they are hearing this song for the first time. Side note: is it a bad thing that I want people listening to our radio station and crying?
It was three years in the making to get a fresh song from Adele, and I think it was worth the wait."