Adele's 'Skyfall' Lives Up to the Legacy of Bond Songs

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Friday morning, at 0:07 hours, something very significant happened: Adele released a song that wasn't about a break-up. Actually, it's the theme song to the new James Bond movie, "Skyfall." And it's really good. You can listen to it here.

Beginning with a burst of Bond-appropriate horns, the song quickly takes up a tense piano line. "This is the end," Adele sings, and you can almost see the iconic silhouettes of the Bond girls changing colors and climbing out of pistols. The first chorus features a tremendous, reaching melody line that recalls the "Goldfinger" theme. Afterwards, Adele sings the refrain, the 77-piece orchestra plays Bond's indelible minor theme, and a surf guitar pulls the groove back to the verse. The song churns on at an unshakeable pace, building and falling with each chorus.

In recent years, the Bond songs have slipped a bit. The filmmakers have made odd choices of pop stars, often trading the strings for harder sounds. Alicia Keys and Jack White came up short with their plodding "Another Way to Die," which was exactly one half Jack White, one half Alicia Keys, and all misplaced effort; both were trying far too hard, and the result is a slog of a song. Chris Cornell's "Casino Royale" song "You Know My Name" had a killer lick and a memorable chorus, but it was too hard rock for its own good. The classic Bond songs didn’t seem to try for glory—like the man they celebrate, they achieved nonchalance with class. Adele's retro leanings and rich voice make her a perfect fit for this now-nostalgic elegance. It's no small feat that, in a pantheon that includes "Goldfinger," "You Only Live Twice," "Diamonds are Forever," and "Live and Let Die." Adele's "Skyfall" holds its own.