Chasing Pavements

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"Chasing Pavements"
Adele - Chasing Pavements.png
Single by Adele
from the album 19
B-side"That's It, I Quit, I'm Movin' On" (live)
Released14 January 2008[1]
StudioCompass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas
Producer(s)Eg White
Adele singles chronology
"Hometown Glory"
"Chasing Pavements"
"Cold Shoulder"
Music video
"Chasing Pavements" on YouTube

"Chasing Pavements" is a song recorded by English singer-songwriter Adele for her debut studio album, 19 (2008). Written by Adele with its producer Eg White, the song was released as the second single from the album on 14 January 2008. Its lyrics describe a woman's quest of giving up on her lover and moving on in life with a definitive goal. Adele was inspired to write the song after discovering her boyfriend's infidelity, and the subsequent altercation with him in a pub.

"Chasing Pavements" received critical acclaim, with reviewers praising it's lyrics, production and Adele's vocal performance, with many citing it amongst the singer's best songs. Commercially, the song proved to be her record charts debut worldwide. It topped the charts in Norway, and reached the top 10 in eight countries, including the UK, where it debuted at its peak of #2 on the UK Singles Chart and is certified Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). The accompanying music video was directed by Mathew Cullen of the production company Motion Theory.[2] At the 51st Annual Grammy Awards, "Chasing Pavements", received three nominations, winning Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and being nominated for Record of the Year, and Song of the Year.

Background and composition[edit]

The song was inspired by an incident Adele had with a former boyfriend of six months.[3] After learning he had cheated on her, she went to the bar he was at and punched him in the face.[3] After being thrown out, Adele walked down the street alone and thought to herself, "What is it you're chasing? You're chasing an empty pavement."[4] She sang and recorded it on her mobile phone and arranged the chords when she got home.[3] "Chasing Pavements" is written in the key of C minor.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

"Chasing Pavements" is considered one of Adele's best songs by several music critics. Chuck Arnold of Billboard listed the song second in a ranking of her discography, comparing Adele's songwriting ability to Carole King and noting that its sophistication was way beyond her years.[6] In a readers' poll by Rolling Stone where it placed at number four, Brittany Spanos commented that it was not as "viscerally emotional" as Adele's later work on her second studio album, 21, but a "fantastic" showcase of her abilities.[7] Similarly, The Guardian's Alexis Petridis ranked "Chasing Pavements" at number five, and praised its sophistication and its chorus's emphasis on Adele's vocals.[8] Jazz Monroe of NME listed the song as Adele's eighth best, and said that it was great despite its big chorus, and described its hook as grandiose.[9]


"Chasing Pavements" received three nominations at the 51st Grammy Awards. The single received nominations in the categories of Record of the Year, Song of the Year and for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.[10] It won the Grammy award for the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance but lost to Coldplay's "Viva la Vida" in the Song of the Year category and to Robert Plant's and Alison Krauss' collaboration, "Please Read the Letter", in the Record of the Year category. Adele performed "Chasing Pavements" with Sugarland at the ceremony.

Year Organization Award Result Ref.
2008 MTV Video Music Awards Best Choreography Nominated [11]
MTVU Woodie Awards Best Video Woodie (Best Video of the Year) Nominated [12]
2009 BMI London Awards Award Winning song Won [13]
Brit Awards British Single Nominated [14]
Grammy Awards Record of the Year Nominated [15]
Song of the Year Nominated
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Won

Chart performance[edit]

"Chasing Pavements" debuted at its peak of number two on the UK Singles Chart issued for 20 January 2008.[16] The song remained at this position for three consecutive weeks and stayed on the chart for 25 weeks, earning a Platinum certification from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).[17][18] The song reached number 28 on the Canadian Hot 100.[19] Music Canada certified it 2× Platinum.[20] "Chasing Pavements" also peaked within the top 10 of national record charts, at number one in Norway,[21] number two in Scotland,[22] number four in Israel,[23] Japan,[24] number seven in Ireland,[25] Italy,[26] number eight in Denmark,[27] number nine in the Netherlands,[28] and number 10 in Belgium.[29] The song received a Gold certification in Denmark,[30] Italy,[31] and Norway.[32] On the US Billboard Hot 100, the song charted at number 21.[33] The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified "Chasing Pavements" Platinum, which denotes one million copies sold, while Billboard reported it had sold 1.2 million units as of October 2011.[34][35]

When first released, the song began getting significant airplay in the US, however, an online controversy arose. The song is about a hopeless endeavor, and an online story appeared that the song is about Adele chasing after gay men. This caused some US radio stations to drop the song from their playlists, and it stopped climbing the charts, peaking at #21. Adele has denied this is the subject of the song.

Music video[edit]


Hyde Park, London where the incident happened.

The song's music video focuses on a car crash (a white Peugeot 505 saloon) occurring in Hyde Park, London. While set in London, the video was actually shot in Los Angeles.[36]

It features two views: one of the real-world in which the occupants of the car are lying motionless on the pavement following the accident, and the other (during the choruses) in which the camera shows them from above. Adele is seen in the first view, inside a car with a man. She sings before getting out of the car and walking past a group of people who are running towards the accident scene. Then, she stands beside a tree continuing to sing until it ends with the victims shown on stretchers, being wheeled away in different directions by ambulance crews tending to them. Adele is not one of the car crash victims.

In the second view, the couple is shown from a bird's-eye view, but as if they are shot side-on and they 'come to life' and move as if standing up. The couple appear to reenact their relationship, starting from their first meeting when the woman dropped her scarf and the man handed it back to her. For a while the couple appears happy together, though it is short-lived; the man discovers that the woman had another lover. She writes something on a piece of paper and when the man reads it, he is angered, but he forgives her and they begin rekindling the passion they once had before the crash. When Adele sings the chorus for the final time, the couple dance on the pavement surrounded by the onlookers, who are now also dancing. The man and the woman dance gracefully and intimately, but in spite of all the joy, they are still just two bodies lying motionless on the pavement, and are then wheeled away by ambulance crews in different directions.


The song's music video earned a 2008 MTV Video Music Award nomination for Best Choreography.[2]

On 20 December 2008, the video was ranked No. 26 on VH1's Top 40 of 2008.[citation needed]

Live performances[edit]

Adele premiered the song on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on 7 December 2007.[37] She also performed "Chasing Pavements", along with "Cold Shoulder", on Saturday Night Live on 18 October 2008.

In popular culture[edit]

Melissa Benoist performed a cover of "Chasing Pavements"in a Glee episode


The song was performed by Melissa Benoist on the 2012 episode "The New Rachel" of Glee. In 2013, American R&B singer, Candice Glover performed the song on the singing competition series, American Idol, during her time as a contestant on the show. American rapper Machine Gun Kelly also covered the song and it has over 8 million views on YouTube.

Soundtrack appearances[edit]

"Chasing Pavements" was featured in three episodes of Hollyoaks. The first was in a concluding scene of Hannah Ashworth's anorexia. The second instance was during the beginning scene of Charlie Dean's custody battle. The third was in a scene showing Dominic Reilly reflecting on Tina McQueen talking to him. The song was also featured in the film Wild Child, and the TV show 90210.

Track listing[edit]

UK – CD and 7-inch vinyl

  1. "Chasing Pavements" (Adele, Eg White) – 3:31
  2. "That's It, I Quit, I'm Movin' On" (live) (Sam Cooke) – 2:12



Certifications for "Chasing Pavements"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[20] 2× Platinum 160,000double-dagger
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[30] Gold 7,500^
Italy (FIMI)[31] Gold 10,000*
Norway (IFPI Norway)[32] Gold 5,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[58] Platinum 1,000,000[18]
United States (RIAA)[34] Platinum 1,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Release history[edit]

Release dates for "Chasing Pavements"
Region Date
Europe 11 January 2008
United Kingdom 14 January 2008


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