What Can We Learn About Skyfall From Adele's Theme Song?
Do you remember the days when people got incredibly excited to find out who would record a James Bond theme song, then counted down the days until the track was released for the public to hear? Yeah, I don't really either. Most of the classic songs that have accompanied Bond movies to this point came from decades ago, and the last one to crack the top 10 in the US charts-- Madonna's "Die Another Day"--was passable at best.
Which is why it's pretty fantastic to see the hubbub surrounding Adele's "Skyfall," the song that will open the upcoming Bond film of the same name, opening November 9 (October 26 in the UK). The pairing of singer and film have seemed perfect from the outset, with Adele possessing that exact sultry voice that reminds us of all the great Bond themes of the past (like Nancy Sinatra's "You Only Live Twice" or Shirley Bassey's "Goldfinger"). But the fact that Adele is also a massively, massively popular pop artist means her selection wasn't just a nod to nostalgia-- she's got the old-school aesthetic but the new-school popularity, and if you're the Bond producers, you don't pass that up.
Yesterday a minute-long preview of the song debuted online, and it sounded exactly how we expected-- rich with Adele's powerful vocals, a little melancholy but with the potential to explode into something bigger, and with a hint of Shirley Bassey that still doesn't slip into being a copy of something older. It's not just that it sounds like a good song, either-- the fusion of old and new reminds me of exactly what Skyfall director Sam Mendes and producer Barbara Broccoli have been promising about the movie for months. When I visited the film's set in Istanbul back in April, I constantly heard the phrase "classic Bond"-- even the choice to film in Istanbul was a nod to From Russia With Love. But it's clear from the film's trailers so far that Skyfall isn't intended to be some period piece or artifact dredged up from the past-- like a hipster wearing arm garters or Mad Men's effect on modern fashion, it's something deeply influenced by the past but staking its own territory.
Which, again, is exactly what Adele seems to be doing with her own "Skyfall" track. I can't wait to hear the final product, which debuts this Friday in celebration of Bond's 50th anniversary as a screen character. But it's more than just looking forward to what seems like a great song. Adele's spin on "Skyfall" seems like a perfect microcosm of what Mendes is going for in the movie, and if both the film and the song turn out to be as strong as their potential suggests, the era of "classic Bond" should be back with a vengeance.
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