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Adele's James Bond theme song earns new license to thrill (+video)

Adele's James Bond theme song 'Skyfall' returns to the series' roots and is one of the best in a long time.

Adele is the first British artist in more than 25 years to sign a 007 theme song.
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When it comes to "James Bond" theme songs, nobody does it better than the Brits. (Apologies to Carly Simon, whose ballad for "The Spy Who Loved Me" is an honorable exception.) Case in point: Adele's "Skyfall," the first "Bond" song by a British artist in more than 25 years, has been widely hailed as one of the best in the series.

"[Sony Pictures] was interested in an artist who not only would be right for the specific film, but who could harken back to the classic 'Bond' themes of the '60s," says Jon Burlingame, author of "The Music of James Bond." "Because Adele is one of the hottest artists in the world – and a Brit – it was almost a no-brainer."

The series' risqué silhouetted title sequences, which are just barely PG-13, have featured memorable hits by British artists such as Tom Jones, Paul McCartney & Wings, Sheena Easton, and Shirley Bassey.

The template for the "Bond" song, established by composers John Barry and Monty Norman, combines the twang of machismo guitar, plunges of orchestral strings, blasts of brass, and a vocal somewhere between melancholic torch song and tongue-in-cheek belter. Exhibit A: Ms. Bassey's "Goldfinger" – the first of her three "007" songs – which was a Gold Record. The brand-savvy "Bond" franchise has looked to "sounds that could potentially get on the radio" ever since "Dr. No" in 1962, says Mr. Burlingame.

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