Joe Stile | BASSic
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 07:10
A few days ago, Adele released her hotly anticipated single for the latest James Bond film, “Skyfall”.
Although some movie singles are exceptional despite being completely unrelated to the film they appear in — remember that R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” was written for “Space Jam” (1996) and Aaliyah’s “Are You that Somebody?” was first put out on the “Dr. Dolittle” (1998) soundtrack — there is a unique magic to songs that find a way to incorporate aspects of the movie they’re written for.
Adele’s voice is a perfect aural representation of the archetypical Bond girl. On “Skyfall,” it’s sultry and seductive with an alluring coldness. She sounds like a Siren when she sings, “You may have my number, you can take my name/ But you’ll never have my heart.” In two lines, Adele captured the Femme Fatale persona better than Lana Del Rey could on an entire album. You can try to love her, but you’re going to get hurt in the process. She is incredibly tantalizing, despite her warnings.
A lavish, seventy−seven piece orchestra helps Adele create a bold, sweeping soundscape. The song has the feeling of a major motion picture score; it even starts off with a dramatic horn crescendo before dropping into a more piano−based ballad. It creates an atmosphere that instantly transports the listener into the Bond universe.
The song accomplishes this transcendent effect partly through its inclusion of samples from the original James Bond theme song, which was written by composer John Barry for “Dr. No” (1962). The song’s lyrics also help — they were co−written by Adele and Paul Epworth, who worked on her Grammy−winning record “21” (2011).
The words start off as a semi−story that quickly draws the listener in. It’s like being thrown into the middle of an ongoing movie, as the listener is told that things are crumbling around him. The earth is shaking, but he’s going to be okay because Adele is standing strong by his side.
The lyrics are sensationalized at times and the love is over−the−top, but it all works well because it connects Adele’s highly emotional style with powerful images that preview the newest Bond film.
The song does a good job balancing Adele’s performance and its previews of the film. The echoing of Adele’s lines by the background singers in the chorus is reminiscent of popular songs from the early 1960s, when the Bond films started to become a Hollywood staple. It also mirrors the chorus of Adele’s biggest hit, “Rolling in the Deep,” where the background singers chant behind Adele, “You’re gonna wish you, never had met me.”
This song, like many of Adele’s songs, has a retro feel, which adds layers to “Skyfall” by hinting at the long line of Bond films throughout the ages without ever pandering to the legacy or feeling outdated. Overall, the effect gives the song and its presentation a classy, timeless feel.
After the record−shattering success of “21,” it would seem that whatever Adele did next could never possibly live up to the debilitating hype that that type of achievement creates. This is exactly why following “21” up with the Bond theme song is such a smart move, as it takes some of the pressure and expectations off Adele and puts them on the film, instead. “Skyfall” is about Adele, but it’s just as much also about the Bond franchise.
“Skyfall” is a single that’s engaging in its own right and that will also draw attention to the film, which is the most anyone could ask of a movie’s theme song.
Joe Stile is a political science major and English minor. He is a senior and can be reached at Joseph.Stile@tufts.edu.