Is Adele's "Skyfall" the Worst Bond Theme of All Time?

adele-skyfall.jpeg
Meh.
Fifty years after the release of the very first Hollywood adaptation of Ian Fleming's superspy, James Bond returns to make his 23rd appearance on the silver screen this month in Skyfall, Daniel Craig's third crack at the character. The media blitz for the film's premiere is already in full effect, led by the release of Adele's new Bond theme song, the sensibly titled "Skyfall."

While the new movie's success has yet to be determined, the theme has all the making of a hit. With Adele in the midst of a self-imposed hiatus from music as she carries her first child to term, pretty much anything the "Rolling In the Deep" singer puts out right now is going to be snatched up greedily by her fans. Expect it to make a big splash on the charts. Just don't expect a masterpiece.

Sure, Adele has won the hearts of millions worldwide with her bold, rich tone, but "Skyfall" diminishes her somehow. Falling well short of sultry, her soft cooing on the track threatens to disappear into the lush arrangement instead of blasting it into the stratosphere where it belongs. Chart-topper or no, this one ain't likely to appear at the top of any Bond best-of lists anytime soon.

But is it bad enough to rank among the worst?

Not a chance. "Skyfall" may underwhelm given its singer's superstar status, but it's more inoffensive than abominable. In 23 tries, the Bond franchise has produced some truly wretched themes that make even hardcore fans wince. To put Adele's effort properly in perspective, we suggest you suffer through the following soundtrack bombs best forgotten. They're the (double-oh) seven worst Bond theme songs of all time.

007. Tom Jones, "Thunderball"

Asking noted lounge lothario Tom Jones to adopt a sexy spy persona on the soundtrack for "Thunderball" probably seemed like a good idea on paper. In truth, however, the theme was a rush job written by longtime Bond composer John Barry after his original song was rejected by the studio.

The track is studded with familiar Bond-theme motifs, but Jones' throaty croon edges closer to a goofy parody of Sean Connery's charming killer than a sexy tribute. A homoerotic love song from Tom Jones to 007 might have become a camp classic, but instead it's a flat-out dud. The worst part is that a theme written by Johnny Cash was also submitted, but ultimately rejected. I'd bet there's little chance it was as bad as this.


006. Gladys Knight, "Licence to Kill"

If it weren't plastered right into the underrated Timothy Dalton's second Bond film, there would be no telling that "License to Kill" was a Bond theme song at all. The track's extremely dated '80s production work is immediately off-putting, with Gladys Knight's voice struggling not to be drowned out by what must be the biggest, boomiest drums ever constructed.

The basic problem here is that this song does not sound like anything that belongs in a Bond film. Instead, it's a fairly generic '80s dance-floor ballad whose chief attribute is that it's among the series' shortest.


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15 comments
rhussvii
rhussvii

Adele's "Skyfall" isn't even remotely CLOSE to anything done by Shirley Bassey. To be fair, the success of a song depends less on how talented the singer is and more on how well it is written. In my opinion, Skyfall is a bland and lame Bond theme that doesn't make me the least excited for Skyfall. In fact, I think I will wait to see Skyfall until I can stream it on Netflix.

mjhellund1
mjhellund1

Running the lyrics in that video is cruel and unusual. Lame as hell.

mjhellund1
mjhellund1

Fat twat. This is awful, and I suppose I just don't get Adele. The song isn't terrible, but why not get Joss Stone to sing it in bare feet.

Papa_Kin
Papa_Kin

What the hell is wrong with the Houston Press lately?  "SkyFall" is a phenomenal track with callbacks to the Shirley Bassey days. Would you rather another auto-tuned Madonna theme?

foreignconcepts
foreignconcepts

@houstonpress I think you also need to remember that this is also Adele's first publicly released song that was recorded post vocal surgery. From the articles that I've read on her over the past year, she has had to retrain herself in terms of singing technique and vocal range. Adele's earlier recordings were very unique to her vocal style and not easy to replicate. Try singing Set Fire to the Rain. It's a hard song to sing if you're trying to sing it in a fashion that's true to the original recording on 21. I know my throat hurts after singing it at full volume. She probably is not pushing her voice and therefore not straining her vocal cords in the same way as she did before, and we may not be seeing (and by seeing I mean hearing) that same signature Adele that we've come to know.

dfword
dfword

The list needs to include "Never Say Never Again," by Lani Hall, the former lead singer one of my favorite 60's groups, Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66. It's just horrible!

MrjSykes
MrjSykes

@nobius @Dynamel @HoustonPress At least the Houston Press was someone objective. But seriously? Tomorrow Never Dies is bad?

glowdell
glowdell

@HoustonPress this article baffles me

tc5920
tc5920

@HoustonPress I love the song...what's wrong with it???!

NathanSmith
NathanSmith

 @michaelwkrause  You came to the conclusion that I'd prefer another auto-tuned Madonna track even though I pegged "Die Another Day" as the worst Bond theme of all time? 

nobius
nobius

@MrjSykes @Dynamel @HoustonPress yeah that one was decent. Madonna’s was awful. Funny thing is TLD was one of the most popular chart wise

Papa_Kin
Papa_Kin

 @NathanSmith  I'm an idiot. I apologize.  Didn't bother reading through your whole article. I just don't see why there's any debate at all over "Skyfall." Sam Mendes has made it clear he's going back to the golden-age of Bond, and Adele's track has knocked it out of the ball park in my opinion. If anything your article should ask if it's in the top 5 themes.

nobius
nobius

@MrjSykes @Dynamel @HoustonPress didn’t like the Keys song. Surprised All Time High doesn’t rank higher

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