Adele’s 25 arrives in stores and online Nov. 20. The question isn’t whether or not the album will be huge (it will be), but just how huge. Her third offering, following 2008’s 19 and 2011’s 21, has been at the top of the charts since it was made available for preorder four weeks ago, and debut single “Hello” is the first in history to sell more than a million U.S. downloads in a week. (It also spawned a slew of viral covers, including one by Demi Lovato that arrived over the weekend.) A parade of high-impact events—including an appearance on SNL the day after the album drops and a concert at Radio City Music Hall to air Dec. 14 on NBC—are likely to only boost its prosperous fortunes.
One secret to her success? Adele has remarkable cross-generational appeal, with “Hello”logging spins on Top 40 radio as well as on adult-contemporary and adult-alternative stations and even formats usually reserved for R&B and hip-hop. “Fans have been anticipating this moment for years, and the buzz is unprecedented,” says Target spokesman Lee Henderson, whose store will stock a special edition of the album with three bonus tracks. (Last year, an exclusive version of Taylor Swift’s 1989 was offered through the retailer and sold more than 400,000 units in its first week.) “We know 25 will be one of the biggest albums this holiday season.”
Considering the impressive business “Hello” has done already, along with the timing of the album release (shoppers who purchase the record on Black Friday should bolster first-week sales), industry prognosticators have 25 moving anywhere from 1.4 to 2 million copies in its first sales frame. If it comes in on the low end, it would still be the single biggest sales week for a female artist since Britney Spears’ Oops!…I Did It Again in 2000. If it arrives at the high end of that range, it’ll be the second-biggest week of all time behind *NSYNC’s 2000 release No Strings Attached. Those record-holding figures may be from an era that’s a distant memory in the music world, but if anyone can produce turn-of-the-century sales, it’s the powerhouse vocalist from London.