Is Adele's Skyfall theme song just a James Bond cliché?

Oct 5, 2012

Adele song falls into the pastiche category, say critics, but it will make it to number one

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ADELE'S Skyfall theme tune was officially released online at 0.07 this morning but critics are already complaining that it sounds like a pastiche of other James Bond songs.

A 90-second clip of the song was leaked online earlier this week but today – on James Bond's fiftieth anniversary - fans had the chance to hear it in full (see video below).

A couple of critics were very impressed. "It's a smoky, mysterious song, rich with instrumentation, thanks to the 77-piece orchestra that backs the singer," said music website PopCrush, giving it four and a half stars out of five.

The Scottish Daily Record named it 'single of the week' and said it was the best Bond theme tune since Tina Turner's 1995 song GoldenEye. "Skyfall has the sultry swagger of Shirley Bassey's Diamonds are Forever or Goldfinger, but with all of Adele's ache and longing," it added.

But there was a tepid reaction from fans commenting on a Guardian poll. Few were impressed with the lyrics, which repeat: "Let the sky fall/ when it crumbles/ We will stand tall/ Or face it all together."

Several commented that it sounded like a mixture of other previous Bond songs – and this is where other critics have found fault.

"It's rich. It's sweeping. And it's definitely Bond-ian," said Jim Farber at the New York Daily News. "But ultimately, it does a far better job at conforming to the form's clichés that it does pushing it to any thrilling new heights."

Farber concedes that Adele may own the "biggest voice to grace this spy thriller realm since Dame Shirley Bassey". But he says Skyfall lands closest to Bassey's less popular Bond tune Moonraker, with its "meandering melody and ponderous progression". In other words, he says, “it's far from a killer 007 theme".

The Daily Telegraph's Neil McCormick describes the danger of introducing a new Bond theme: "If it strays too far from the parameters established by a series of classic John Barry themes in the 1960s, dedicated Bond fans immediately condemn it as sacrilege, but if it adheres too closely then it reeks of pastiche."

McCormick says Skyfall "definitely falls into the latter category" but he adds that it is "certainly one of the better efforts to try to capture that classic, torch song, femme fatale vibe".

He adds: "This song is fine, it will sound great in a cinema with CGI women and bullets floating across the opening credits, but it inevitably pales in comparison to the songs to which it pays homage."

Nevertheless, if the reviews were not quite what Adele was hoping for, she can take comfort in the words of a William Hill spokesman, who said today she is "odds-on to be the first ever artist to take a Bond theme to number one".

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