Being the creative brains and the voice behind a James Bond film is a huge responsibility for any artist. It is one of the most iconic film franchises and (next to Harry Potter) is one of the biggest U.K. exports, and our most notable contribution to cinema.
The leaked clip of the new theme for Skyfall featuring Adele is evocative of that classic Bond theme from the Shirley Bassey days. Everything about it spells classic James Bond theme, but there is a thing or two that seems to set this particular song apart.
The nature of James Bond films have evolved over time; from the vintage big band brassy sound of Goldfinger to the loud clash of Live and Let Die.
Skyfall marks Daniel Craig's third outing as 007 —the Craig era has made a point of being edgier, rougher and bloodier than the Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore and Sean Connery days. The themes for Craig's first two Bond films were effectively a reflection of that edginess and although both films were commercially successful, their theme songs were greeted with a somewhat muted fanfare.
Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name" for Casino Royale was met with some enthusiastic reviews but also described by critics as "lackluster" and "forgettable."
Similarly the unlikely pairing of Jack White and Alicia Keys in their offering of "Another Way to Die" for Quantum of Solace was met with positive reviews but was also dubbed unlikely to join the ranks of memorable Bond themes.
It was a no brainer that Adele would be attached to Skyfall as she is one of the UK's greatest musical exports. It was also cited as one of the worst kept secrets in entertainment as Adele only officially confirmed her attachment to the franchise this week.
It's hard to judge a song when you only have 90 seconds of it, but the theme itself sounds incredibly promising and it is clear that everything about it has "classic James Bond" stamped on it.
To begin with we can hear a return to the big orchestra; there's the sultry and seductive contralto female lead, the sweeping John Barry strings resonating throughout and the signature James Bond bass line playing throughout.
But what's also noticeable about this theme compared to the last two is that it's clearly a tragic love song. Adele, a singer who knows how make people relive their most devastating breakups, plays to her strength as a scribe of love songs. As the Guardian's Jude Rogers put it, the James Bond franchise so far under Craig is about a spy who fell in love and was betrayed three films ago in Casino Royale.
The subject matter of a lot of James Bond songs tends to encompass world domination ("The World is Not Enough"), death ("Die Another Day"), or sex ("Diamonds are Forever"). With Adele's lyrics such as "hear my heart burst again"and "let the sky fall, let it crumble, we will stand tall and face it all together," it is clear that what sets this theme song apart from a lot of the other Bond songs is that it is essentially a love ballad. Critics have even described this song as one that actually "stirs the heart."
Writing a James Bond theme is no easy feat not just because the franchise is so big, but because the benchmark for Bond themes is so high. The pressure and expectations on Skyfall is even greater than its predecessors. Not only does it mark the 50th anniversary of the series, but after the Diamond Jubilee and the roaring success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Skyfall is another chance for Brits to celebrate everything that is great about being Made in Britain.