‘I’ll be backcombing my hair when I’m 60, telling people I was a Bond girl back in the day, I’m sure.’ This was the comment from Adele when asked about her new single, Skyfall. The track is the theme song for Daniel Craig’s third outing as Bond, set for cinematic release on 26th October. But is Adele’s peice really impressive enough to qualify her as a Bond girl?
Of course, Adele’s comment was meant merely as a flippant joke but when you consider the legacy of Bond music that Adele has to consider it seems quite a heavy statement. There is an almost endless back catalogue of promotional Bond songs, but each one is memorable in its own way. Whether it’s the ballads of Tina Turner and Shirley Bassey, so powerful your eardrums continue to reverbarate long after the last note or Madonna’s original yet slightly misplaced dancetrack that is hard to forget…as much as we’d like to. Then there’s Tom Jones’ seductive spin and McCartney’s bombastic approach and, more recently Jack White clipped on Bond’s signature bow tie as he and Alicia Keyes, in his own words ‘joined their voices and became (the Bond characters) for afew minutes.’ So it seems that as the 007 Baton is passed from artist to artist it leaves the next with a mission almost as challenging as one of Bond’s own.
Adele has admitted that she was at first a little hesistant to be involved because of the instant spotlight and pressures which come with a Bond song. This has never been more true with this year marking the 50th anniversary of the very first Bond film, Dr No. Sky movies now have a 007 channel and Adele’s song was released at 0:07am on the day officially designated as ‘Global James Bond Day’. So it is clear that Adele would have to pull out all the stops in order to impress a very dedicated franchise. And it appears she did pull out all the stops, using a 77 peice orchestra to accompany her vocals. Yet has it produced something iconic enough to set the heart racing as the final credits roll?
Personally, I think it’s too simplistic to go down in history. It has so few notes that it doesn’t withstand its own 3 minute duration without becoming repetitive so I can’t see it lasting the next 15 years, as it would need to, to become a classic. Although obviously my opinion isn’t shared. The song has flourished in the eyes of the public, hitting number one in the itunes chart only ten days after its release.
So what is it about Skyfall that has won people over? Quite simply, it ticks all the boxes. Bond songs don’t need to be experimental, because they’re promoting films with a secure fanbase. There’s a tried and tested formula that artists stick to as loyally as Bond to his drink shaken not stirred, and it would be unwise to stir things up musically. Adele uses the ingrediants to this formula well and evokes a tune that perfectly accompanies the slick, brooding atmosphere of Ian Fleming’s series. She even includes some notes from the original score by Monty Norman who has said that he is ‘honoured that Skyfall has given a large nod in my direction.’ So Adele has won the approval of everyone then… except maybe me. Perhaps I’m too harsh. I do like that it has a soulful undertone and appreciate that Adele has kept it relatively subtle and not indulged in a dramatic powerballad like she could have. I just can’t shake the feeling that its…well, boring.
Although of course, I speak too soon. One can never really form an opinion of movie music until it is listened to in the context of the actual film. Maybe Adele’s slow sonata will be more profound when backtracking the action of 007. I should really return to this review once I’ve been the cinema and given it the ‘prickles on the back of the neck’ test that every good movie score should pass. Until then it will be interesting to see whether Skyfall will ‘stand tall’ and retain its place at the peak of the charts or whether it will fall in place before the movie is premiered.