Adele‘s epic James Bond theme song, “Skyfall,” has debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 this week at #8. She’s the first artist to land a top 10 song from the spy series since Madonna took “Die Another Day” to the same spot in 2003, and just the seventh in the film franchise’s 50-year history. Interestingly, Shirley Bassey, whose iconic trio of Bond themes Adele’s “Skyfall” closely recalls, peaked at #8 with her first, “Goldfinger,” in 1964.
“Skyfall” benefits from pent-up demand for new music from Adele — her first since the multiplatinum success of 2011′s 21 (still at #14 on the albums chart this week) — with fans rushing to download the single, myself included. The song’s #8 debut also reflects the on-the-hour radio play that “Skyfall” received last Friday from about 100 Clear Channel stations. Next week’s ranking will show whether the theme (co-written with producer Paul Epworth) is like quicksilver or has the mettle to be another Adele smash.
I haven’t gone about the business of ranking my favorite Bond songs, but Sheena Easton’s “For Your Eyes Only” (from the 1981 film of the same name) would score at or near the top. You never forget your first, and Easton was mine, even though Paul McCartney & Wings released “Live And Let Die” the year I was born and I no doubt heard a lot of Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better” on the radio a few years later. Already a fan of the Scottish singer after her perky “Morning Train (9 To 5)” became a hit in early 1981, I bought the “For Your Eyes Only” single soon after it was released. Easton’s dramatic turn was my James Bond coming-out song.
Whether it was best for an 8-year-old to spend what, in retrospect, seems like endless hours emoting to “For Your Eyes Only” in front of the stereo, I’m forever bonded to the ballad. (An instrumental version was on the B-side, so some singing may have also been involved.) Yes, I was born this way, but Easton’s 007 song certainly nurtured my nature.
Thirty-one years ago this week, “For Your Eyes Only” peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, spending four weeks locked in the spot before falling out of the top 10. Paul McCartney, Carly Simon, and Duran Duran may have done even better with Bond (see previous Friday Flashback, “A View From The Top”), but Sheena Easton is still, thus far, the first and only artist to appear in an opening title sequence from the series.
While Easton enjoyed some extended screen time, the fantastic space-y end to her theme song didn’t make the cut:
Written by Bill Conti and Mike Leeson, “For Your Eyes Only,” received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, losing to “Arthur’s Theme (The Best You Can Do).” “Skyfall” should be a shoo-in for a nod next year, and if that happens, odds are good that Adele will add an Oscar to her mantel of trophies.