I bet she’d pick Oddjob and fill the facility vent with proximity mines…
Jonathan Bogart: The trouble with reviewing Bond themes is deciding which standard to use — how is this as a Bond theme versus how is it as an Adele song versus how is it as a standalone pop choon? Luckily, Adele’s self-important miserablism exactly matches the mood of the Daniel Craig revision, so her relative lack of brassy oomph (as compared to Shirley) or kittenish sexuality (as compared to Nancy) is a net positive. On the other hand, there hasn’t been a Bond theme that works as a standalone choon since “Live and Let Die,” and this continues that tradition.
Anthony Easton: If you were going to work through a short list of singers that would seem proper for a Bond theme, Adele’s competent/nostalgic neo-soul would be high on the list. As a reward for that height, she produces a pitch perfect rendition of this kind of thing, an urtext of longing that might as well be sung by Nancy Sinatra or Shirley Bassey. The problem is that the last film or two have been violent, dark, and quite real about the political implications of Bond’s work. I wonder what would happen if the work reflected that tension.
Katherine St Asaph: Adele is to Shirley Bassey what Pierce Brosnan is to Sean Connery. (Who would that make Emeli Sande, who is probably desolate about this? Timothy Dalton?) It’s luxury kitsch, a paean to its own bombast; the biggest thing about it is how the music press still faints over Bond themes in 2012.
Alfred Soto: Like Shirley Bassey and Annie Lennox, Adele has no talent for warmth or emotion, only “emotion,” which is why the more showbiz the context the realer it sounds. James Bond themes don’t even sell the movie: they sell a deluxe fantasy written in the style of ad copy translated into basic but inscrutable English. In this, nobody does it better than Adele.
Patrick St. Michel: Neither shaken nor stirred, but rather unceremoniously poured into the glass. Still tastes OK.
Mallory O’Donnell: Adele delivers a Bond song as routinely over-sung as the rest of her material. One would expect her to not exercise restraint when belting it out about her personal pain, but is that treatment really warranted when singing about a fictional spy who is the epitome of casual sexism? Why have people lionized her again?
Ramzi Awn: Can’t blame a girl for knocking it out of the park, even if never would be too soon to hear Adele’s voice again.
Iain Forrester: Sometimes there’s pleasure to be had in something that takes a robust established formula and hits all of the expected marks, confidently and boldly, to the extent that it feels like there is no other way it could or should have been.
Brad Shoup: I feel compelled to mention that I’ve seen two Bond films in my life, Casino Royale at home and Tomorrow Never Dies on a bus from Nanjing to Shanghai, so: one Bond film. Still, I feel like I’m about as conversant in the 007 mythology as a civilian is expected to be. The production yields enough of the campy grandiosity, although the details (lusty horn curls, the guitar sting at the end) come off a bit too on-point, but perhaps this new one is supposed to be a throwback to the Moore years or something. Really, the only element out of place is Adele. It’s as if she’s laying a demo, showing off a couple filigrees in places, but mostly holding her chops in reserve.
Will Adams: Plodding drums, a directionless melody, and a singer who sounds like she’s sleep talking in the recording booth. It’s kind of embarrassing how much this fails to reproduce the grandiose Bassey template at which it grasps. Even separated from the Bond theme canon, though, this is terribly dull. Am I really going to have to sit through this pablum as Skyfall‘s opening credits roll?