Adele’s return was always going to be a big deal; now, she once again has the biggest song in the country. “Easy On Me,” the first taste of her long-awaited fourth album 30, jumps to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart following its first full week of release.
“Easy On Me” previously debuted at No. 68 on the chart, thanks solely to its first five hours of availability upon release. The song has now become her fifth career No. 1 on the Hot 100 ahead of the Nov. 19 release of 30, Adele’s first full-length in six years.
Where does “Easy On Me” rank among Adele’s chart-toppers? And what do we hope it means for her new album? Billboard staffers discuss these questions and more below.
1. Adele’s new single reaching the top of the Hot 100 should surprise absolutely no one, although it’s not every day that a piano ballad hits No. 1. Do you think “Easy On Me” is in for a long stay at the top?
Jason Lipshutz: The Adele smash that “Easy On Me” most closely resembles is “Someone Like You,” which spent five weeks atop the Hot 100 in 2011; I think “Easy On Me” is in for a similar run a decade later. Not quite as overpowering as “Hello” or catchy as “Rolling In The Deep,” but with the gravitas and breathtaking vocals of Adele’s best piano ballads, “Easy On Me” is another commercial winner from the superstar. And regardless of how many weeks it stays in the top spot of the Hot 100, the song will undoubtedly linger at pop and adult contemporary radio for a long, long time.
Katie Atkinson: Yes. It might not stay “Hello”-long, but its radio performance alone should keep it up top for a few weeks. And while piano ballads aren’t frequent chart-toppers, Olivia Rodrigo’s eight-week stay with “Drivers License” earlier this year proved that the right weepy No. 1 can hang around for a while.
Katie Bain: This is a perhaps unpopular opinion, but no. “Easy On Me” is an extremely pleasant song, but I’m not sure it has the big hooks, resonant melodies or other standout elements that give a song staying power at the very top. That said, it’s Adele, so this song could sit at No. 1 well into next year and that also wouldn’t be surprising.
Neena Rouhani: Whether or not it’ll remain at the top is hard to say. I think radio will definitely keep it spinning, but in terms of streaming, the turnover rate is so high. People are quickly onto the next thing. Also, the way Billboard tabulates the charts today is different from the time of “Rolling In The Deep” or “Hello.” Overall, I am not sure if the track has the same longevity on the charts as “Hello” — not because it’s a lesser song, but because “Easy On Me” isn’t following the same pop “formula” as “Hello” in terms of composition, lyricism and melodies.
Stephen Daw: I 100% believe she’ll be at the top for at least a few weeks. Sure, we don’t get to see piano ballads top the charts all that often, but it certainly didn’t stop “Hello” or “Someone Like You” in years where that same fact was true. It also didn’t stop Olivia Rodrigo from topping the chart for eight straight weeks earlier this year with her own lovesick piano ballad, ”Drivers License.” Add in the sheer amount of time we’ve been waiting for new Adele, and I think it’s clear that “Easy On Me” will be sticking around for the time being.
2. Where would you rank “Easy On Me” among Adele’s other No. 1 hits — “Rolling In The Deep,” “Someone Like You,” “Set Fire To The Rain” and “Hello”?
Jason Lipshutz: Right now it’s batting cleanup for me, behind “Rolling In The Deep,” “Someone Like You” and “Hello.” In terms of vocal nuance and thematic focus, “Easy On Me” is among my favorite Adele singles — but damn, those three former No. 1s are difficult to unseat as stone-cold tear-streaked classics.
Katie Atkinson: Maybe I haven’t spent enough time with it, but I would rank it at No. 4, only ahead of “Set Fire to the Rain.” It’s beautiful and I’ve had it on repeat since its release, but it just hasn’t impacted me emotionally like “Hello,” “Someone Like You” or “Rolling in the Deep” (yet). I remember choking up at just the intro of “Hello” in its first week — it’s hard to compete with that visceral reaction.
Katie Bain: Again, perhaps unpopular: I’d rank it last. It’s not that “Easy On Me” isn’t a good song. It is. But for me, those other No. 1s are all-time great, turn-the-radio-up-every-time-they-come-on, scream-in-the-car-at-the-top-of-your-lungs bangers. For me, this one — while a sturdy vehicle for Adele’s era-defining voice — isn’t as powerful, as raw, or as memorable.
Neena Rouhani: Before I say what I am about to say… let me remind everyone that I am an Adele STAN. I sang “Turning Tables” at my 11th grade talent show and spent many car rides staring out of the window as “Someone Like You” played on repeat. However — I was not a fan of “Hello.” I actually skip it every time it comes on when my music is shuffled, but I do acknowledge its brilliance and catchiness. I feel similarly about “Set Fire To The Rain.” “Someone Like You” is absolutely incredible and my personal No. 1. I’d put “Easy On Me” as No. 4.
Stephen Daw: I love a ballad about complicated, messy emotions, so “Easy On Me” hits me right where I live. That being said, I’d have to put it right in the middle of these tracks — “Set Fire to The Rain” and “Hello” were never my favorite Adele songs, but “Rolling In The Deep” and “Someone Like You” both still give me chills to this day. “Easy On Me” is fabulous, but it’s yet to offer me that same kind of emotional release you get to experience on both of those songs.
3. Although she’s one of the defining popular artists of the past decade, Adele is not as prolific as her fellow superstars, with multi-year waits in between projects. Do you wish that Adele released albums more consistently, or do you appreciate the every-few-years event that is a new Adele LP?
Jason Lipshutz: Not only do I appreciate the all-caps EVENT that a new Adele project represents, but I also love how the last two album campaigns have been timed to the autumn, with a new album ready for Black Friday purchasing and holiday listening. Thank you, Adele, for giving us “Hello” as the leaves were changing and the wind was growing colder; for allowing us to contemplate “When We Were Young” as night fell earlier in the afternoon; and, now, for bestowing us with “Easy On Me” in the heart of pumpkin spice and Halloween candy season, a time when we must all take it easy on ourselves.
Katie Atkinson: Take your time, Adele! There’s no doubt that the downtime between releases is what keeps that air of mystery around her that creates so much drama when she does come out of hiding. Also, she seems to appeal to almost every generation, so it’s not like she has to race the clock of her audience outgrowing her. People will be listening for decades to come.
Katie Bain: In a world that demands artists release new music as much as possible, I think Adele’s pacing is admirable. I love that she takes her time, culls from whatever’s transpired in her life during the last few years to make the music, and then makes each release a global event. There are so few pop culture moments we all share in now, but I feel like a new Adele album is still one of them.
Neena Rouhani: I think she should never change her methods. This rapid release cycle is one of the worst things to happen to music. Adele allows us time to really cherish and sit with what she shares, like savoring that last bite of the most decadent cheesecake. You never want it to be over, so you slowly nibble away at it. It’s a guaranteed No. 1, every time. We know that an Adele release is rare, so we are truly grateful.
Stephen Daw: Make us wait for it! The problem with being hyper-prolific is it forces you to burn through a lot of creative energy very quickly, especially in an age where fans sometimes expect new “eras” with every album release. Adele is smart to let that creative energy build up over time, so that when she does finally release a new single or album, it feels like an event you’ve been waiting for. Building tension only to release it with a song like “Easy On Me” is a move that I’ll always respect.
4. “Easy On Me” previews Adele’s highly anticipated new album, 30. When it comes to the sound, thematic focus, collaborators or general vibe, what are you personally hoping to hear from 30?
Jason Lipshutz: For years I have been begging Adele to record a dance album — imagine that voice in a disco-pop setting! — and while “Easy On Me,” and Adele’s recent discussion of the album’s thematic focus on her divorce, indicate that 30 will definitely not be that, I still hold out hope for one uptempo banger on the track list. Someday, Adele will drop her “I Will Survive,” and that day will be glorious.
Katie Atkinson: There’s no reason for Adele to mess with a good thing. The album should be built around her untouchable vocals as always, with complementary production to showcase them. Of course I want some emotional gravitas and painful realities that will hit too close to home, but I don’t need any features or dubstep or anything else that skews too far from her can’t-miss formula. “Rumour Has It” is the highest Adele BPM I can handle.
Katie Bain: If “Easy On Me” is any indication, I think we’re going to get a lot of divorce-related introspection — which, given how prolifically Adele has always turned the ups and downs of her love life into music, creates pretty massive expectations. While the gentleness of “Easy On Me” is nice, I do hope the separation experience also manifested in music that also makes her want to once again set fire to the rain.
Neena Rouhani: I hope to hear classic Adele. I don’t want trap drums, I don’t want a big pop feature, I just want what Adele does best, which is soul-baring, heart-crushing, sob-worthy ballads mixed with a few upbeat “I’m healed now” cuts. I wouldn’t be mad at one or two on-theme features, but please, Adele. We desperately need your raw, stripped-back self.
Stephen Daw: For me, I’m hoping to get some variety on this album. As great as “Easy On Me” is, I think an entire album of identical love ballads would end up being a disappointment. I want to see Adele take some broad strokes — maybe try a couple upbeat dance numbers, or even go for a song that has nothing to do with her love life. Mixing it up just enough so that we get to hear that incredible voice in some new, exciting sonic landscapes would be a really fun way to show her versatility on 30.
5. Fill in the blank: the Adele song from her first three albums that should have been a much bigger hit is _____________.
Jason Lipshutz: “I’ll Be Waiting,” the horns-heavy uptempo gem from 21 that’s too undeniable to be shrugged off as a deep cut. Shout out to the millions of other people who have embarrassingly belted along with that one in their cars.
Katie Atkinson: OK, right after I said I didn’t want my Adele to have too high of a BPM, I think the jangly “Right as Rain” from 19 should have been a single. Maybe it was too similar to Amy Winehouse, who was a contemporary of Adele’s at the time, but “Rain” is (ironically) such a ray of sunshine.
Katie Bain: “Best For Last.”
Neena Rouhani: “All I Ask.”
Stephen Daw: “All I Ask.” Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, wondering why on earth this song was never released as a single. “All I Ask” is an absolutely gorgeous ballad that shows off Adele’s vocal range and technique perfectly, and differentiates itself from her other ballads with a new time signature, a different flavor of heartbreak, and best of all, simplicity. Why “All I Ask” never got promoted to a post-release single will always irk me, because it could have become another No. 1 for her.