Adele’s Skyfall : Has the level of success already been determind?

Last Friday was, rather grandiosely, named Global James Bond Day. That may have passed some of us by, but the launch of the new theme song was less likely to. At 0.07am , ho ho great work fellas!, Adele’s Skyfall was unleashed.

A new James Bond movie never needs much advertising, the 50 year old movie franchise has such a cache amongst those of us on planet Earth that, like Bond or not, we know there’s a movie out.  But the hype surrounding the theme song is unique in both the film and music industry, there’s nothing remotely close to it.

Midway through Daniel Craig’s turn as Britain’s greatest spy, there’s a real push behind Adele’s Skyfall to be the first number one Bond theme, with a strong hark back to a previous lushness from those sung by Shirley Bassey. Do the songs reflect the quality of the film, do the Bond girls help, is there even any correlation between the three for overall success?

Adele, the girl from north London who sold, apparently, an album every seven seconds in 2011 fits neatly in to female Bond theme singer heels. But singing to a brief for a movie and not about her troubled love life, as rewarding as it is (Every seven seconds, really?) it could lead to knocking the living daylights out of her stellar career. Competition is fierce at the top end of the Bond theme chart, but there’s a collection of stinkers at the bottom.

Garbage ended up in the bin after the dull The World Is Not Enough. Both film and theme not favourites with the public, and even some short Daisy Dukes couldn’t distract from Denise Richards’ wooden performance.

Sheryl Crow’s forgettable Tomorrow Never Dies was picked via a submission in which… er… sorry I’ve just lost my way. Much like the film’s writers. But its biggest mistake was best described by Bond actor, Pierce Brosnan, about Teri Hatcher getting the Bond girl role. Monica Bellucci screen tested but “the fools said no.” Thank you, Mr. Bond.

Yet it didn’t harm everyone too fatally if their Bond song bombed. Madonna rode the wave of an awful theme to Die Another Day, even if it was written with the help of Bond composer du jour David Arnold. It was not a critically acclaimed film, upsetting both North and South Korea, too much product placement and the least sexy Bond girl in history. Yes, Berry, I’m on about you.

It was, however, the end for Brosnan, but not for David Arnold who, initially recommended by John Barry to score Bond movies, put things right with Casino Royale. A blistering title track sung by rock super-lungs Chris Cornell gave the re-made, re-modelled, re-booted, re-imagined Bond an energetic start to life. If the theme tune had your pulse racing then French actress Eva Green was sending it careering faster than an Aston Martin DBS around Montenegran country lanes.

Although some fans were upset with Daniel Craig’s appointment, with a Bond not Blonde internet campaign, further restyling continued. His screen look was a crop haired, muscular Bond, a change from the traditional coiffured look in the initial promotional shots. Eva Green is also a less typical Bond girl, sultry and smoky, yes, but a touch more delicate than his previous conquests. After the success of Jason Bourne tear-arsing around the world, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson knew Bond needed an overhaul, and certainly delivered with fierce intent.

A dark and dominant theme, with covert erotic lyrics sung by a woman who claims not to need the love of a man, Shirley Bassey’s belter of a tune makes Diamonds Are Forever a genuine highlight of this small genre. But the film had a mixed reception, its camp humour did not appeal to either the critics or the public. Nor did the hapless Jill St John, who also under-thrilled in Bond-lite The Liquidator, whose theme was also fantastically sung by Ms. Bassey. Lana Wood did impress as the obviously named Plenty O’Toole. Barely wearing a dress that fitted as loosely as Bond’s morals, her earlier appearance in Playboy clearly giving the film extra exposure in Connery’s last Bond outing.

When James Bond returned in Live and Let Die, gone was the rough, aggressive undertones and in came more humour and a rogue eyebrow, as Roger Moore took on the spy role. British beauty Jane Seymour’s exquisite Solitaire providing a distraction as blaxpliotation-esque baddies Kananga and Baron Samedi caused voodoo mayhem. Paul McCartney justified his exorbitant fee by creating a rollicking title track, the first to move away from the traditional croon. With chasing drums and orchestral splashes adding drama to wide ranging vocal from the former Beatle, Live and Let Die again announces a new Bond with a new look to our big screens.

There is an anomaly in the Bond canon. The Spy Who Loved Me, a Fleming connection in title only, is widely acclaimed as Moore’s most coherent and successful Bond film. But again the secondary girl, Caroline Munro, took more plaudits than Barbara Bach, but Ringo may disagree. Carly Simon’s superb power ballad is the opposite of Bassey’s bossy Diamonds. Here the girl is singing the praises of her lover, claiming nobody does it better, wondering out loud what makes him so good and that it makes her weak at the knees. Unfortunately for all three girls, the car took most young men’s hearts as the Lotus Esprit car/submarine stole the show, and is probably involved in one of the franchises most memorable scenes.

The proof, whilst not indisputable, is often that the longer an actor plays Bond there are diminishing returns across the profits and the eyes and ears of the public.

With this being Craig’s third outing, and two more confirmed, it is unlikely that Skyfall will plummet to the lower reaches of the best Bond movies list, but history suggests the trajectory isn’t good. So should her song be considered a flop, Adele can find a quantum of solace that it was likely to happen anyway.

2 Responses to “Adele’s Skyfall : Has the level of success already been determind?”
  1. Linda Hamilton says:

    Love Sheryl Crow’s version of Tomorrow Never Dies but unfortunately for us but not for Adele’s sales, Skyfall is extremely cliched…..great piece of writing Alex, very enjoyable!

    • Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.

      There’s a formula that make these things so successful, and while they need updating every so often, it is getting it right leads to continued success. Adele’s Skyfall is cliched but veer to far from that (Madonna) the essence is lost. I wish Adele had taken her voice that bit further in the final section, really belted is out, otherwise, good work girl.

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