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This is the end
on 24 February 2014
It would be difficult for me to find something that I DON'T love about the latest Bond movie, "Skyfall." But one of the things I loved best about it was Adele's theme song, also called "Skyfall." I'm not surprised that this song ended up winning an Academy Award for "Best Original Song" -- it's a majestic, soaring song that is tied tightly into the plot of the movie, but can also be appreciated on its own, as a love song.
It begins with a blare of brass and a gentle ripple of piano. "This is the end/Hold your breath and count to ten/Feel the earth move and then/Hear my heart burst again," Adele croons softly, sounding resigned whatever is happening. But strings begin to creep into the song, and by the chorus we're in full orchestral mode laced with that hard-edged Bond sound.
Actually, it sounds less like a Bond song, and more like a sort of apocalyptic hymn as she sings, "Let the sky fall, when it crumbles/We will stand tall/And face it all together!" The song uncoils after that like a sonic rose, unfolding new layers of dark horns, violins and a soaring winged finale that leaves your heart pounding.
"Skyfall" is a song that is both simple and complex -- it's got a seventy-seven person orchestra playing under J. A. C. Redford, and it has countless layers and harmonies sweeping together. The James Bond theme is woven in as well, but it feels natural and not like it was prodded in to make it more recognizably a Bond song -- it has its own sound and rhythm.
Instead of a pop song, it's a deep, rich ballad that starts off on a funereal, almost defeated note, only to blossom into fiery, powerful determination by the end. And the lyrics are tightly tied to the actual plot of the movie "Skyfall" -- just look at lines like "Skyfall is where we start," "I've drowned and dreamt this moment" and "we will stand tall/and face it all together/at Skyfall."
But the lyrics and imagery are also vague enough that it can be appreciated as a powerful love ballad in its own right, about triumphing over the odds with the help of one who loves you ("I know I'd never be me without the security/Are your loving arms keeping me from harm/Put your hand in my hand and we'll stand"). And Adele is... well, Adele. Her voice is rich, soulful and full of soaring emotion, and she sounds like she put all her heart and soul into this song.
"Skyfall" is a fitting song for the brilliant new Bond movie, in just about every way -- it's a bittersweet, rich, haunting experience that demands to be heard again and again. And it just made a new fan of Adele.