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[Review] Adele - Skyfall

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

[Review] Adele - Skyfall

Adele Skyfall

James Bond theme songs have always held a special place in my heart, which shouldn't come as a big surprise to anyone, given my passion for both music and film.  With the recent release of Adele's own Bond stunner, "Skyfall," the 24-year old English chanteuse finds herself sitting pretty among some of my favorite Bond singers, including Shirley Bassey ("Goldfinger," "Diamonds Are Forever," & "Moonraker"), Paul McCartney & Wings ("Live & Let Die"), Carly Simon ("Nobody Does It Better"), Sheena Easton ("For Your Eyes Only"), Tina Turner ("Goldeneye") and Garbage ("The World Is Not Enough").  Written by Adele and Paul Epworth (Florence + The Machine, Lana Del Rey, Adele), "Skyfall" is easily the best James Bond theme song since 1999's EPIC rock-tinged "The World Is Not Enough," and a worthy addition to the lineage. 

"Skyfall" brings the Bond theme back to basics, serving up a true classic.  It's clear after listening to the song on repeat that Adele and Epworth were less focused on creating something edgy and never-before-heard, choosing instead to write and record something that comes across as quintessential James Bond in every way, all the while showcasing one of the best voices of our generation, that of the lovely and talented Adele.  As soon as the Adele rumors started to flow, I knew that this Bond theme was going to be better than some of the more recent offerings we've been subjected to over the years.

The 90s started out promising with '95's Tina Turner fronted, Bono/The Edge-written, Nelle Hooper-produced "GoldenEye" but as the Pierce Brosnan movies continued on their downward spiral, so too did the music.  First we had Sheryl Crow's FLAT and unmemorable "Tomorrow Never Dies."  While we were treated to a small glimmer of hope with Garbage's FLAWLESS "The World Is Not Enough," a Bond theme that quite honestly out-shined it's cinematic counterpart, Madonna's 2002 Mirwais-produced dancetronica offering, "Die Another Day," twisted the classic Bond theme into something virtually unrecognizable.  When the Daniel Craig James Bond era began with the 2006 film, Casino Royale, there was yet another glimmer of hope.  Could this re-imagining/reinvention of the popular franchise bring some much needed LIFE to genre?  The answer, unfortunately, was no.  Chris Cornell's (Soundgarden) contribution, "You Know My Name," was forgettable at best and the Jack White/Alicia Keys duet, "Another Way To Die" was just a jumbled mess of confusion.  Leading up to the release of 2008's Quantum of Solace, rumors were swirling about a collaboration between the late Amy Winehouse and her longtime producer Mark Ronson; a concept I could very easily get behind.  Unfortunately, Amy wasn't in the best place at the time and the rumored-to-be-recorded song was passed over in favor of Jack White's disaster of a theme song (I'm still hoping we'll get to hear her version). With the release of "Skyfall," my hope is once again restored and all is right in the world.

Recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, "Skyfall" features a seventy-seven piece orchestra, impeccably arranged by J.A.C. Redford.  The lush, sweeping orchestration is CLASSIC James Bond, adding just the right amount of cinematic drama and flare to the track.  With an artist as iconic as Adele, it was a serious concern that this song might sound like a weepy extension of her Grammy-winning 21 album, but fortunately that isn't the case.  "Skyfall" is equal parts an Adele record and equal parts a James Bond theme song, as it should be. 

Following it's release on October 5th, "Skyfall" was number one on the UK iTunes chart and is causing many to speculate whether or not it will become the first Bond theme to top the UK Singles Chart.  On Monday of last week, Adele ended months of speculation regarding her involvement with the franchise, tweeting a picture of the cover page of the "Skyfall" sheet music, which included her name alongside producer/co-writer Paul Epworth's.  The popular single admitted a little hesitation on her part in the beginning, telling the official James Bond website:
"I was a little hesitant to be involved with the theme song for Skyfall.  There's a lot of instant spotlight and pressure when it comes to a Bond song.  But I fell in love with the script and Paul had some great ideas for the track and it ended up being a bit of a no brainer to do it in the end.  It was also a lot of fun writing to a brief, something I've never done which made it exciting. When we recorded the strings, it was one of the proudest moments of my life. I'll be combing my hair when I'm 60 telling people I was a Bond girl back in the day, I'm sure."
Skyfall, the film, will be out October 26th in the UK and November 9th in the U.S.  Check out the newly edited movie trailer, set to the recently released theme song BELOW and download it now (iTunes US/iTunes UK).

Check out Adele on the web:

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