Of all the acute kinds of heartbreak Adele channels in her sprawling catalog of ballads — from the nostalgia and regret of “Hello” to the burn-it-all-down fury of “Set Fire to the Rain” — “Love in the Dark” is among the most unrelentingly somber.
Released on Adele’s third studio album, 25, “Love in the Dark” is a piano ballad about the end of a relationship that is so mournful and slow-moving you could call it a dirge. It doesn’t exactly scream radio single, and so — unlike “Hello” and the Max Martin-penned “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” — it was never released as one.
But in the past month, “Love in the Dark” has risen from deep-cut status to become what seems to be a new fan favorite, a rare feat for a six-year-old song.
According to Alpha Data, the data analytics provider that powers the Rolling Stone Charts, every week over the past six years, “Love in the Dark” has typically been only the eighth-most-popular song off the 11-track-long 25. Ranked among all 34 of her songs off three studio albums, “Love in the Dark” has typically ranked 17th. ”Someone Like You,” “Rolling in the Deep” and “Hello” are usually the top three, in that order.
In late summer, “Love in the Dark” started taking off on TikTok, and instead of being the soundtrack to a meme or a dance, the conversation seemed to be about just how underrated this song is. Before August, the song was seeing between 150,000 and 250,000 on-demand audio streams in the U.S. each week; by mid-September, that number had ballooned to over 1.5 million. By the week of September 17th through September 23rd, it was the Number One most popular song off 25, out-streaming even the monstrous “Hello.” That made it the third-most-popular track in Adele’s entire catalog, behind only “Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You.”
Streaming data about the most popular albums in the past six years reveals just how rare this kind of feat is. Looking at the top 1,500 albums released after 2015 — excluding songs with expected boosts from remixes, single releases, music videos, current events or seasonal popularity — only three additional albums contained a track that made a comparable jump to the top.
Louis Tomlinson’s “Defenceless” is a recent example of a track that pulled off something similar, due to a successful fan campaign a year after the release of Walls. The song went from the eighth-most-streamed track one month prior, to the most popular track on the album the week of January 29th, 2021. Louis commented on Twitter how “crazy” it is for an album track (a non-single) to achieve this kind of success.
In November 2019, Melanie Martinez’s “Play Date,” from her album Cry Baby, jumped from the 12th-most-streamed track one month prior, to the most popular track on the album over four years after its release. A few months later, the song took off on TikTok and Spotify, and was later certified platinum. And last September, Mitski’s “Me and My Husband” leapt from the ninth-most-popular song off Be the Cowboy to the Number One most popular. Mitski debuted on the Rolling Stone Artists 500 chart a few months later, and reached a peak of Number 178 in May 2021.