Despite breaking all sorts of records with her comeback single "Hello" and album "25," singing star Adele is surprisingly shut out of the top 10 on all of Billboard's year-end charts, including the top albums, songs, digital downloads and streams of 2015. Here's why.
By any objective measure, it's been a remarkable year for UK singer extraordinaire Adele. The diva broke numerous sales records with her "25" album collection as well as with her first single, "Hello," which preceded the album's release. The album broke both digital and first-week album sales records, and has now racked up a whopping 11 million-plus sales. The single smashed the record for the most digital downloads in a single day, with over 900,000 purchases of the song on iTunes alone, and although "25" was not made available for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music or any other on-demand service, "Hello" was in fact streamed on all the big players, while its video released on YouTube has already racked up over 840 million views.
So, it stands to reason that when the Billboard year-end charts for 2015 were released, Adele would sweep the field. A look at the listings for the Top Albums, Top Artists, Top Digital Downloads, Top Streaming Songs and other charts for 2015, however, indicate both Adele's album and single making little, if no impact. Adele's highest placing on all of the charts is a relatively low 15th place for "Hello" on the year's Top Digital Songs chart, while her next-best showing is at number 32 on the Top Streaming Songs of the year. "25" isn't even listed in the Top Albums of 2015, while Adele's four-year-old "21" comes in at number 74 on that chart.
How can this possibly be? The answer lies in the timing of the charts compilation. Even though Billboard touts its year-end charts as listing the hottest records and artists of the year, it actually only measures data through the third week of November. That's because Billboard needs to compile the data in time to include it in the physical print version of its magazine, which is published and on sale at newsstands well before year's end.
"Hello" was released on Oct. 23, which means that only the first few weeks' sales figures for the song are included in the year-end chart. Still, given the record-breaking number of downloads for the song, the number 15 placement seems rather low. A look at the songs that did top both the digital downloads chart for 2015 and the big Hot 100 chart, which includes all types of sales along with airplay figures, helps us understand. The number one and two songs of 2015 on both charts was "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson, featuring Bruno Mars, and "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran. Both of those songs were actually released in 2014, in November and September, respectively.
Adele's "25" was released on Nov. 20, 2015, which means that the album was not eligible to be considered for the 2015 album charts, which is why it doesn't appear at all. You can bet that, a year from now, when the 2016 year-end charts are released, Adele's 2015 releases will be all over them.
It looks as if it's time for Billboard to reconsider its methodology for compiling the year-end charts with respect to timing, as they are not a true reflection of the year's top music hits. In an age where both digital music and media have usurped traditional physical sales in favor of digital delivery, the company needs to prioritize accuracy instead of basing its figures on antiquated physical production deadlines. An entire year from now, "Hello" and "25" will be listed as the top records of 2016 instead of 2015, when they actually achieved that goal. In a digital age where news and information is regularly reported in real-time, Billboard needs to catch up on its chart timing in order to remain relevant and trustworthy.