The Bottom Line
From the ominous first chord echoing back to the classic theme from the first James bond film Dr. No, it is obvious "Skyfall" is a James Bond theme song. From the dark atmosphere of impending doom to the insertion of romantic interludes, Adele and Paul Epworth have created the most accomplished James Bond theme in more than 30 years. Now we hope the quality of the film will live up to the towering achievement of its theme.
- Towering vocal performance
- True to the James Bond franchise
- Impossibly lush orchestration
- Written by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
- Produced by Paul Epworth
- Released October 2012 by Columbia Records
Guide Review - Adele - "Skyfall"
Clearly the success of Adele's massive hit album 21 was no fluke. When assigned to create a theme for one of the most iconic film franchises of all time, she approaches perfection. It is no tiny feat. Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die" and Shirley Bassey's "Goldfinger" are legendary for good reason, and "Skyfall" can easily be mentioned in the same breath. Adele, with songwriting and production collaborator Paul Epworth at her side, stuns us all once again.
In the past two decades theme songs for James Bond films have fallen on hard times. A string of top pop and rock musicians have seemed more intent on creating songs to promote themselves than stick with being true to the storied series of films. "Skyfall" is distinctly Adele, but first and foremost it is music representing James Bond. The lush orchestration instantly brings to mind "Goldfinger" and "Diamonds Are Forever." It is the feeling of doom in both music and lyrics, "This is the end, hold your breath and count to ten," that is reminiscent of the ominous "Live and Let Die." In keeping with the classic themes, "Skyfall" is all about atmosphere and drama with nothing given away in the lyrics about the film's plot.
Adele's vocal performance here is perfectly balanced between bombast and nuance. From the opening of the first verse there is a thrilling combination of power and slight fragility indicated in a delicate vibrato. As the chorus kicks in Adele sounds as if she has lived through a thousand tragedies but is ready to face the ultimate end with power and strength. Very few current pop singers truly have the lungs to compete with the rich orchestration of "Skyfall," and Adele glides through the song with ease.
When the song breaks down into the bridge to the last verse, it is hard to imagine how the music could become even more powerful, but it does. The final verse combining the orchestra, Adele, and a surging backing choir is a glorious musical moment. Adele closes her vocals with a slight gospel swagger that infiltrated some of her best moments on 21. Will this be a major pop hit? It's too early to tell, but "Skyfall" has already pleased a wide range of James Bond and Adele fans. It only whets our appetite for the next step in the musical career of the woman who is swiftly becoming a popular music icon.