Adele Wiki
“Set Fire to the Rain”
Adele-set fire to the rain s
Single by Adele
from the album 21
Released July 4, 2011 (UK) • November 21, 2011 (US)
Recorded 2010; Myaudiotonic Studios (London)
Genre Pop
Length 4:02
Label XL Recordings
Writer(s) Adele Adkins, Fraser T Smith
Producer(s) Fraser T Smith
Adele singles chronology
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"Someone Like You" "Rumour Has It"
21 track listing
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"Don't You Remember" "He Won't Go"

"Set Fire to the Rain" is a song by English singer-songwriter Adele from her second studio album 21. Written by Adele and Fraser T Smith and produced by Smith, the power ballad was released as the second single from the album in Europe. It was released as the third single in the United Kingdom on July 4, 2011, where the song has peaked at number 11. The song has peaked at number one in Belgium, Poland, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the United States. The song has charted within the top 10 of Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa and Switzerland.

"Set Fire to the Rain" was released on November 21, 2011 as 21‍ '​s third official single in the United States, peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is the third consecutive number-one single of the same album; the last female singer who achieved this was Katy Perry in 2010 when "Firework" hit number one. Adele is the first female British artist in history to have three consecutive US number ones. With "Rolling in the Deep," "Someone Like You," and "Set Fire to the Rain," Adele logged a total of 14 weeks atop of the Billboard Hot 100; this is the most number of weeks at number one a British female artist has had from the same album. The song was voted by readers of Billboard as their favorite number one hit of 2012. Additionally, while "Rolling in the Deep," "Someone Like You," and "Set Fire to the Rain" were all US number ones, only "Someone Like You" was a UK number one; "Set Fire to the Rain" didn't reach the top ten.

"Set Fire to the Rain" was not included in the initial track listing for the album; however, last minute changes resulted in four unreleased songs being cut in favor of "Set Fire to the Rain," "He Won't Go," "I'll Be Waiting," and "Lovesong."[1]

The song was featured in promos to the final season of Rescue Me and the series Ringer.[2]

In 2013, the live performance of "Set Fire to the Rain" from Live at the Royal Albert Hall received a Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance.

Background and release[]


"Set Fire to the Rain" was written by Adele and Fraser T Smith while the production was handled by Smith. Adele told The Sun: "Well, it's a bit like 'Chasing Pavements,' you can't do it. I was playing on my mind while I was trying to light a fag [cigarette] in the rain outside a restaurant." Adele later told Q magazine that the title came to her, "in the middle of the night when I got up for a wee."[3] It was one of the first songs that Adele wrote for the record, and while it is personal to her, it was also intended to serve as a sort of "gay anthem" after her friend told her "Chasing Pavements" was not enough of a gay anthem.[4] After saying this, she added that it was about tears and "burning the pain [of a past relationship] away," and described it as a song of "liberation."[5] Adele also said that the song was "about the contradictions that are in relationships" in her "track-by-track interview" for 21.[6] On The Graham Norton Show, Adele jokingly said that the song "really doesn't make sense."[7]

Fraser T Smith later opened up about the recording process of the track, stating:

Adele had just broken up with her boyfriend. She was in a vulnerable place and had brought her dog Louis along to keep her company. We started working from scratch on a song that would become 'Set Fire to the Rain', which reached number-one all over the world. Adele sat in the kitchen, drinking endless cups of coffee, smoking Marlboro Lights and scribbling down lyrics while I worked on the music. Meanwhile, her dog was growing restless, wandering round the studio, cocking his leg on everything in sight. Then I spotted him chewing through the cables and I thought, 'I’m in the middle of producing one of the greatest records of my career and this dog is going to blow the studio up.' Then the dog started crying while Adele was singing, but thankfully, he calmed down and came and sat on her lap. Some of the best takes we got were done with a sausage dog perched on her knee.[8]


On October 28, during an interview with Billboard, Columbia Records revealed that "Rumour Has It" would be released as the third single from 21 and serviced to pop and adult contemporary radio. However, the release of the song was scrapped and "Set Fire to the Rain" was released as the third US single instead on November 21, 2011. A spokesperson for Columbia, Pete Cosenza stated: "Our research found more programmer preference for 'Set Fire to the Rain.' [...] Both 'Rumour' and 'Fire' came back strong, but 'Fire' was a bit stronger. [...] It's a better plan to go with 'Fire' over 'Rumour' at pop and adult radio. [...] Everyone, from radio to the buying public, seems to be on board."[2] "Rumour Has It" was later released as the fourth and final international single from 21.


"Set Fire to the Rain" is the fifth track on Adele's second album 21. It is written in the key of D minor with a tempo of 108 beats per minute, following the chord progression of Dm–F–C–Gm–Dm–F–C–Csus4–C, and Adele's voice spans A3-D5.[9] The song describes the contradictory elements of a relationship, and the impossibility of letting go. One of the most pop-influenced of the album, the song is characterized by John Murphy of MusicOMH as a "power ballad." In contrast to the understated production of most songs on the album, the song features lush instrumentation and a swelling string arrangement over a mid-tempo rhythm, creating a wall of sound for the singer's mourning vocals.

Adele described the meaning of the song in detail during a track-by-track interview from 21, saying:

It’s about burning the pain and getting rid of it and demolishing it and it's sort of like a liberating song because you know when you break up and the other person who you’ve left or who has left you knows how much you love them and they try and make your life hell and make it so that you can never get over them by constantly being in touch? It’s kind of like that, and it’s about taking it into your own hands and just saying, ‘go away, fuck off.’

Music video[]

On November 16, 2011, a live performance of the song, taken from Adele's then-upcoming concert film Live at the Royal Albert Hall, was uploaded to her official Vevo channel. Shortly after, it was shown on various music video channels, including VH1 and MTV. It was later confirmed on VH1's website that due to the fact that Adele was recovering from vocal surgery during the time of the single's release, the live music video would be used as the official video instead.[10] The performance in this video earned Adele a Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance.

Critical reception[]

The song garnered generally positive reviews. It received some comparisons to Bruno Mars' "Grenade," due to the similar tempo, vocal range, and style. A writer for the magazine URB said that the song had "Starbucks-friendlier content" and further called it "melodramatic." Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly concluded that the song had "scorned-woman balladry" and it "surge[s] on the pure force of her titanic wail." While reviewing 21, a writer of The New York Times said, "the vocal effects on 'Set Fire to the Rain,' produced by Fraser T. Smith, the most pop-minded of the assembled team, are superfluous." John Murphy of MusicOMH gave a negative review towards the song calling it "real misfire" and "overproduced." However, he added, "it's a decent enough song, but Adele's always sounded best when it's just a piano and a voice." Writing for the magazine Herald Sun, Camreon Adams called the song a "triumphant radio-hit-in-waiting of next single" and concluded that "once the chorus kicks in, you're a goner." Gary McGinley of No Ripcord highlighted "Set Fire to the Rain" calling it "the catchiest song" on 21. Another writer of the Daily Herald said that Adele sounds "epic" on the song.[2]

Allison Stewart of The Washington Post found the song to be "galloping, out-of-place synth-rock number" and added that "even Adele can't save" the song. Nick Freed of Consequence of Sound said that "Set Fire to the Rain" finds Adele at "her strongest and most open." He further called the song "one of 21's angrier tracks" and concluded: "The chorus' hooks are crazy catchy, and by the final one Adele releases and her hurt slips through the anger to give you a damn real and forward show of emotion. I’d imagine seeing this song live or in a stripped down setting would make one bawl like a child. You’ll want to pump your fist and pound your chest. That’s a guarantee." Robert Copsey of Digital Spy praised the song saying, "'It was dark and I was over/ Until you kissed my lips and saved me,' she admits over a gloomy piano riff, before launching into a ballsy, hands-in-the-air chorus. 'I set fire to the rain/ and I threw us into the flames,' she belts with growly vocals against cinematic strings. Rounding out with a suitably breathtaking blast from her impressive pipes and the result sounds like classic, though it's anything but camp."[2]

Chart performance[]

"Set Fire to the Rain" was very popular in Europe, where the song charted within the top 10 of Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, and Switzerland and topping the charts in South Africa, New Zealand, Belgium, Poland, Slovakia and the Netherlands. The song debuted at number 79 on the UK Singles Chart and it moved to number 44 the next week selling 6,286 copies. It later peaked at number 11 on the chart on the week ending 16 July 2011 and it stayed on the same position for two weeks selling another 24,978 copies.

Before being released as a single, the song charted on the Billboard Hot 100 for 6 weeks and re-entered 3 times, peaking at number 72 on 13 September. On the issue dated 4 February 2012, "Set Fire to the Rain" peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and became Adele's third consecutive number one single from the album 21. With 21 also at number 1 on the Billboard 200, the song makes the set the first by a single artist to have led the Billboard 200 concurrently with three Hot 100 number one singles. It took 21 non-consecutive weeks for the song to reach the top spot in the United States. As of June 2013, it has sold 4,552,000 digital downloads in the United States. With this achievement, 21 became one of only five albums to yield at least three number one singles during the decade; sharing the honor with Katy Perry's Teenage Dream (5), Rihanna's Loud (3), Taylor Swift's 1989 (3) and Justin Bieber's Purpose (3).[2]

Live performances[]

Adele performed the song live for the first time on 29 April on The Graham Norton Show. She also performed the track on May 3 at Later... with Jools Holland along with the tracks "Rolling in the Deep," "Don't You Remember," and "Take It All."[2] It was also included in the setlist of her Adele Live and Adele Live 2016 tours.

Digital EP[]

A digital EP entitled Set Fire to the Rain (Remixes) - EP, featuring the four official remixes of "Set Fire to the Rain," was released digitally to iTunes UK. The track listing was as follows:

No. Title Length
1. "Set Fire to the Rain (Thomas Gold Remix)" 5:50
2. "Set Fire to the Rain (Thomas Gold Dub)" 5:21
3. "Set Fire to the Rain (Moto Blanco Remix)" 7:38
4. "Set Fire to the Rain (Moto Blanco Edit)" 3:35


Thomas Gold Remix[]

“Set Fire to the Rain (Thomas Gold Remix)”
Song by Adele
from the album Set Fire to the Rain (Remixes) - EP
Released June 6, 2011
Genre Dance
Length 5:55
Label XL Recordings
Producer(s) Thomas Gold
Set Fire to the Rain (Remixes) - EP track listing
Next →
"Set Fire to the Rain (Thomas Gold Dub)"

"Set Fire to the Rain (Thomas Gold Remix)" was released as the first official and most successful remix of "Set Fire to the Rain" on June 6, 2011. Another variation of it, entitled "Set Fire to the Rain (Thomas Gold Dub)," was also released and included on the EP. Thomas Gold remixed both the original remix and the Dub.

Thomas Gold's remix of "Set Fire to the Rain," as described by Billboard, "ups the song's original pathos to rave level, adding massive synth chords and breakdowns." The remix helped fuel the song's 11-week run on Dance Club Songs, where it peaked at No. 18. Gold, who is quite proud of the remix, has stated that Adele even approved his remix of the song. 

XL requested it via my management. I was up for it immediately, as I loved the original track so much. Even Adele herself approved it. It was one of the most important remixes I've done so far and marked a breakthrough in my career, especially in North America, after it gained over [14 million] views on YouTube. It is still one of my signature tracks in all my DJ sets. Adele's voice is unique and simply magical. One of the reasons it works well in EDM is that it's a perfect contrast to artificial sounds and beats. Her voice always adds so much life and soul to a track.[11]

The mix was so omnipresent on the EDM festival circuit last summer that it could frequently be heard coming from multiple stages at the same time, from Electric Daisy Carnival to Ultra Music Festival. It was even a hit on SiriusXM station BPM. "Our listeners don't embrace every dance mix of pop songs," Geronimo, director of electronic/dance programming at SiriusXM, says. "However, the Thomas Gold [remix] is one that stands out and was a huge success for BPM."

The remix gave a boost to Gold's career and allowed him to achieve success in the US, despite the remix never being released here; according to Billboard, the song was only released in the UK.

The official video for the remix featured its official artwork, the XL Recordings logo in the background. The video contains fan-shot camera phone footage taken from a club in Manchester, where the song was played.


ADELE - Set Fire To The Rain (Thomas Gold Remix) Official


In 2012, Grammy Award-nominated Texan blues and folk musician, Ruthie Foster, covered "Set Fire to the Rain" on her album Let it Burn.


Weekly charts[]

Chart (2011–12) Peak


Australia (ARIA) 11
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40) 5
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders) 1
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia) 1
Brazil (Billboard Hot 100 Airplay) 4
Brazil (Billboard Hot Pop) 1
Canada (Canadian Hot 100) 2
Czech Republic (IFPI) 1
Denmark (Tracklisten) 5
Europe (Euro Digital Songs) 6
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista) 2
France (SNEP) 9
Germany (Media Control AG) 6
Greece Digital Songs (Billboard) 6
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40) 9
Ireland (IRMA) 6
Israel (Media Forest) 1
Italy (FIMI) 3
Japan (Japan Hot 100) 88
Luxemburg Digital Songs (Billboard) 5
Mexico (Billboard Mexican Airplay) 2
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40) 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ) 8
Norway (VG-lista) 4
Poland (Polish Airplay Top 20) 1
Poland (Dance Top 50) 41
Portugal Digital Songs (Billboard) 2
Romania (Romanian Top 100) 15
Scotland (Official Charts Company) 10
Slovakia (IFPI) 1
South Africa (Mediaguide) 2
South Korea International Singles (Gaon) 34
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan) 13
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade) 4
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 11
US Billboard Hot 100 1
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard) 1
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard) 1
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard) 1
US Hot Latin Songs (Billboard) 19
US Hot Dance Club Songs (Billboard) 18

Year-end charts[]

Chart (2011) Position
Australia (ARIA) 49
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40) 25
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders) 3
Belgium (Ultratop 40 Wallonia) 8
Denmark (Hitlisten) 14
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100) 8
Germany (Media Control AG) 16
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40) 51
Ireland IRMA 19
Israel (Media Forest) 1
Italy (FIMI) 12
New Zealand (RIANZ) 22
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade) 10
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 28
Chart (2012) Position
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders) 72
Belgium (Ultratop 40 Wallonia) 68
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40) 76
Greece (IFPI) 71
US Billboard Hot 100 12


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA) 3× Platinum 210,000^
Belgium (BEA) Platinum 30,000*
Brazil (ABPD) Platinum 100,000*
Canada (Music Canada) 5× Platinum 400,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark) Platinum 30,000^
Germany (BVMI) Platinum 300,000^
Italy (FIMI) 3× Platinum 90,000+*
Mexico (AMPROFON) 4× Platinum 240,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ) Platinum 15,000*
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland) Platinum 30,000x
United Kingdom (BPI) Platinum 600,000^
United States (RIAA) 4× Platinum 4,552,000

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[]

Region Date Format
Austria July 4, 2011 Digital EP — remixes
United Kingdom
United States November 21, 2011 AC radio
December 5, 2011 Triple A radio
December 13, 2011 Top 40/Mainstream radio 



  • Adele – songwriting, vocals
  • Fraser T. Smith – songwriting, producer, mixer, bass, guitar, piano
  • Ash Soan – drums
  • Amy Stanford, Emma Owens, Jane Oliver, Lucy Shaw, Rosie Danvers – violin
  • Beatriz Artola – engineer
  • Isabel Seeliger-Morley – engineering assistant
  • Steve Price – engineer (strings)
  • Rosie Danvers – string arrangement
  • Eleanor Mathieson, Hayley Pomfrett, Jenny Sacha, Jo Allen, Kotono Sato, Natalia Bonner, Rustom Pomeroy, Stephanie Cavey – strings


I let it fall, my heart
And as it fell, you rose to claim it
It was dark, and I was over
Until you kissed my lips and you saved me

My hands, they were strong
But my knees were far too weak
To stand in your arms
Without falling to your feet

But there's a side to you
That I never knew, never knew
All the things you'd say
They were never true, never true
And the games you'd play
You would always win, always win

But I set fire to the rain
Watched it pour as I touched your face
Let it burn while I cried
'Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name

When I lay with you
I could stay there, close my eyes
Feel you here forever
You and me together, nothing is better

'Cause there's a side to you
That I never knew, never knew
All the things you'd say
They were never true, never true
And the games you'd play
You would always win, always win

But I set fire to the rain
Watched it pour as I touched your face
Let it burn while I cried
'Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name

I set fire to the rain
And I threw us into the flames
When we fell, something died
Because I knew that that was the last time, the last time

Sometimes, I wake up by the door
That heart you caught must be waiting for you
Even now when we're already over
I can't help myself from looking for you

But I set fire to the rain
Watched it pour as I touched your face
Let it burn while I cried
'Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name

I set fire to the rain
And I threw us into the flames
When we fell, something died
'Cause I knew that that was the last time, the last time, oh...

Oh, no...
Let it burn, oh...
Let it burn...

Let it burn....