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Track Review

That was the only reasonable response from the moment it was suggested Adele follow up her smash album  21 by contributing her vocal chops to the coveted theme song for the 23rd James Bond movie, Skyfall.

If you're even remotely familiar with the British singer's haunting neo-soul voice—and, frankly, only a few of us aren't at this point—it's no surprise to hear her conjure the essence of Bond-song great Shirley Bassey ("Diamonds Are Forever," "Goldfinger," "Moonraker"), with effortless ease on the retro-sounding "Skyfall."

Somber lyrics accompany the song's initially understated piano arrangement as Adele checks off all the required thematic boxes: lurking peril, suspense, suspicion and, ultimately, a woman's relinquishment of her heart … come what may.

"This is the end," the song somberly begins. "Hold your breath and count to 10/Feel the earth move and then/Hear my heart burst again." Set against this dramatic backdrop of uncertainty and peril, a woman begins to fall for a man ("Bond. James Bond") even as she tries (unsuccessfully) to hold her heart in reserve: "When worlds collide and days are dark/You may have my number, you can take my name/But you'll never have my heart."

Her resolve lasts exactly two repetitions of the chorus: "Let the sky fall, when it crumbles/We will stand tall/Face it all together."

Soon "Skyfall" adds a soaring orchestral element, once again harkening back to the classic Bond theme songs of the '60s and '70s, as Adele sings of facing the bitter end with the man she's fallen in love with after all—never mind those previous statements about keeping her emotional defenses up.

"Where you go, I go/What you see, I see/I know I'll never be me without the security/Of your loving arms/Keeping me from harm/Put your hand in my hand/And we'll stand/Let the sky fall, where it crumbles/We will stand tall/Face it all together."

Love, real love, has always been a luxury James Bond couldn't afford. That's where this song seems to start, before moving on—perhaps—to a less cynical stance of solidarity and commitment … even as the sky falls.

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