fb-pixel

By this point in Adele’s reign, even people who have never cried to one of her songs may know the statistic: Her new album, “25,” sold 3.38 million copies in its first week, breaking all records.

But here's what non-obsessives might not fully grasp: Since the album's Nov. 20 release, a serious portion of the population has spent most of its waking hours in total Adele mode.

They are weeping on the way to work. Reliving past loves. Mourning the passage of time. And they are loving it.

"Did I tell you that 'Hello' is my ringtone?" asked Dana Gitell, 39, who by her own admission needs an Adele "intervention."

Gitell, a marketing specialist at Hebrew SeniorLife, has already bought five copies of "25," and feels more purchases coming on. Three were gifts, she said, "but not even for the holidays. I still owe those people presents."

Advertisement



The fourth was a digital download for herself, so Adele can play on a nonstop loop in her Norwood home. The fifth is a CD, "so I can listen more easily in the car."

She tried to describe how the music has overtaken her existence. "It's not an album," she said finally, "it's a lifestyle."

That's not an overstatement. As those in the grip of the British star's wistful lyrics and soulful melodies know, there are Adele/Lionel Richie mashups to enjoy; the "Saturday Night Live" Adele "Thanksgiving Miracle" sketch to watch and re-watch; her appearance with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots to gush over.

With "25" concluding its second week, there are reports of Adele-centric monomania afflicting people of all ages, male as well as female. Unlike Celine Dion or Susan Boyle — other singers with big voices and a way with heartstrings — Adele can be listened to without apology. She's cool with hipsters, teenage boys, grandmothers.

In Hingham, a 4-year-old asked her mother "why can't Adele sing every song?" In Jamaica Plain, travel writer Steve Garfield not only listens to "25" on repeat, but every time his wife opens the front door, he sings the word "Hello," and cracks up when she sings the next words, "it's me."

Advertisement



But Adele does have a typical fan, and she's been identified by Nielsen Talent Analytics.

She is a college-educated woman between the ages of 25 and 44. She has children, works in health care support, enjoys "Family Guy" and "The Office," shops at Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, drinks Aquafina water, and has a household income between $40,000 and $50,000.

She is 20 percent more likely than the general public to smell personal care products before buying.

David Bakula, a senior vice president of industry insight at Nielsen Entertainment, couldn't say whether Adele fans were more or less likely to engage in pre-purchase sniffing than Taylor Swift's fans, but he does know that Adele's devotees skew older.

"And they're 32 percent more likely [than the general population] to say they spend less time sleeping because of the Internet," he said. "That's crazy."

Nielsen's pollsters didn't ask participants their views on calling former lovers incessantly, or about not taking a hint, but considering the lyrics to "Hello," one gets the feeling Adele-ites might be OK with it.

"I must have called a thousand times/ To tell you I'm sorry for everything that I've done/ But when I call you never seem to be home."

Adele's fans also love the way she helps them wallow in a nostalgia they didn't even know they were feeling.

Advertisement



Katelyn LaGarde switched to headphones in the office so her colleagues didn’t have to listen to Adele’s album on repeat with her.
Katelyn LaGarde switched to headphones in the office so her colleagues didn’t have to listen to Adele’s album on repeat with her.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

"She takes you to a place you feel guilty going, but you love every minute of it," said radio personality Sue Brady Hartigan. "You're happily married, yet memories of that one love before resonate."

In the Seaport District, Katelyn LaGarde, a recruiter for a venture capital firm, spent the days following the release of "25'" subjecting colleagues to secondhand Adele as she listened at work.

"It may have been a problem," she said.

She switched to headphones in the office — but hasn't extended the same courtesy to her live-in boyfriend.

He has reportedly been "begging for mercy," and recently struck back in a mall garage by turning off the car before Adele, now 27, had finished lamenting about when she and a former S.O. "were younger and free."

Nevermind that LaGarde owns "Hello" and can hear it whenever she wants. No one turns off Adele. "I was so frustrated that I belted it out in the garage," she said.

Meanwhile, Adele's grip on some fans is so tight that she's crowding out other music. Emily Burns, an account executive with Marlo Marketing, can't find time to listen to her new Justin Bieber album.

"I'm sorry Justin, but it's Adele day," she said. Then, with second-week album U.S. album sales breaking the record-setting 1 million mark, Burns uttered what appears to be a universal truth: "Every day is Adele day."

The music video for "Hello":


Beth Teitell can be reached at bteitell@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @bethteitell.

Advertisement