It’s well-established that radio rarely finds its own hits these days, even from a superstar album.
Finding the next single was once standard procedure, especially for top 40 radio. When Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation was released, PDs quickly looked beyond the title track, then a single, to find “Escapade.” But over the last decade, PDs have been reluctant to deviate from “playing the hits” or tangling with label plans. Programmers found Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” on Teenage Dream, but backed off until it could become an official release. A similar pattern emerged with Perry’s “Dark Horse,” which eventually became the only other consensus hit from her last project, after kickoff single “Roar.”
With that in mind, it is obviously significant that North American programmers — in all formats — gave more than 1,200 spins to songs from Adele’s 25 over the first three days of its release (on Nov. 20), according to Nielsen BDSRadio. All ten songs from the album got some airplay, from just under 52 spins for the least-played track to more than 300 for the most-played.
Those spins, however, must be compared to the 33,854 spins that “Hello” received last week. Even when you consider that those plays took place over seven days, three days’ worth of those would be upwards of 14,000. In fact, the second- through fifth-most-played Adele songs last week were singles from 21, starting with “Rolling In The Deep” (1,067 spins).
At this writing, no second single from the album has been decided, but the song with the most early airplay is “When We Were Young,” a Tobias Jesso Jr., collaboration. That ballad, reminiscent of “Someone Like You,” got double-digit spins in its first few days at Cox’s WAPE Jacksonville (19x) and WBLI Long Island, N.Y., as well as Adult Top 40 CHUM Toronto (17). It’s the only song so far to get double-digit spins at more than one station.
If the radio momentum for “When We Were Young” continues, it also represents a significant change from a time when the most-likely radio strategy would have been to find one of the album’s more uptempo cuts to compliment the equally stately “Hello.” The midtempo “Water Under the Bridge” is the next-most-spun track (221 spins), with no more than six spins in three days from any one station, in this case WBMX (Mix 104.1) Boston.
The most seemingly calculated radio song, “Send My Love (To Your New Lover),” produced and co-written by Max Martin & Shellback, is the next most-played (160 spins). “Send My Love” got 10 spins in three days from Sirius XM’s triple-A format, The Spectrum, as well as seven spins from top 40 powerhouse KIIS Los Angeles. Only the handful of double-digit spins that went to those two titles suggest any song going in to actual rotation.
The 4-5 spins that most songs got at the maximum from any one station suggest that stations either rotated a wide variety of cuts or played the album in its entirety. At Summit Media’s Honolulu stations, rhythmic top 40 KPHW (Power 104.3) played the album in its entirety last Friday (20), then a different track at :25 past the hour, “25 At 25.” Sister AC KRTR (Krater 96.3) played a different track at the top of each hour.
Here’s how the songs from the album, other than “Hello,” were spun in the first three days across North America’s monitored radio stations:
“When We Were Young” (304 spins)
“Water Under The Bridge” (221)
“Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” (160)
“All I Ask” (122)
“I Miss You” (85)
“Sweetest Devotion” (69)
“River Lea” (59)
“Million Years” (57)
“Love In The Dark” (52)