"Skyfall," the song that Adele co-wrote and recorded for the new James Bond movie of the same name, has a good chance of becoming the first Bond theme song to win an Oscar. The song will be released on Oct. 5 (cleverly, at 0:07 a.m., London time.) The movie will be released in the U.S. on Nov. 9 (after premiering in London on Oct. 23.) The Oscars are set for Feb. 24.
"Skyfall" is also vying to become the second Bond theme song to reach #1 on the Hot 100. It would following Duran Duran's "A View To A Kill," which hit #1 in July 1985, nearly three years before Adele was born. I'll get to that in a minute.
Three previous Bond themes have received Oscar nominations for Best Song: "Live And Let Die," which Paul and Linda McCartney wrote for the 1973 movie of the same name; "Nobody Does It Better," which Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager wrote for the 1977 movie The Spy Who Loved Me; and "For Your Eyes Only," which Bill Conti and Michael ("Mick") Leeson wrote for the 1981 movie of the same name.
(There's one more if you count the 1967 spoof Casino Royale as a Bond film. The movie wasn't overseen by Eon Productions, and thus isn't usually considered an official Bond film. "The Look Of Love," which Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote for that film, was a Best Song nominee.)
The song that is most conspicuous by its absence here is "Goldfinger," from the 1964 movie of the same name. Shirley Bassey recorded the dramatic and scorchingly sexy song, which long-time Bond composer John Barry co-wrote with Broadway masters Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. The song should definitely have been nominated, though it would have been hard-pressed to beat that year's winner, "Chim Chim Cher-ee" from Mary Poppins.
"Live And Let Die" had the misfortune of being nominated in the same year as "The Way We Were." The latter song was Barbra Streisand's first #1 hit and an instant standard. It deserved its win.
"Nobody Does It Better" was infinitely more deserving of an Oscar than the song that beat it: the deadly dull "You Light Up My Life." But Debby Boone's recording of the latter song had been a phenomenal hit. It was the first song in more than 20 years to log 10 weeks at #1 on the Hot 100 (or its predecessor charts). (For three of those weeks, Carly Simon's sexy recording of "Nobody Does It Better" was #2.)
"For Your Eyes Only" was a pretty (if unexceptional) song, but "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" deserved its victory. The sprightly song had been a #1 hit for Christopher Cross. More important, it marked a comeback after a lean decade for the great Burt Bacharach, who co-wrote it with Cross, Carole Bayer Sager and Peter Allen.
As noted at the outset, Adele's "Skyfall" may also become the second Bond theme song to reach #1 on the Hot 100, following Duran Duran's "A View To A Kill." John Barry co-wrote that song with group members Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes and John Taylor. Despite its chart success, it failed to garner an Oscar nomination. "A View To A Kill" was Duran Duran's second #1 hit, following "The Reflex." "Skyfall" is vying to become Adele's fourth chart topper, following "Rolling In The Deep," "Someone Like You' and "Set Fire To The Rain."
Five other Bond themes have made the top 10. Shirley Bassey's "Goldfinger" hit #8 in March 1965. Wings' "Live And Let Die" reached #2 in August 1973. Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better" (from The Spy Who Loved Me) hit #2 in October 1977. Sheena Easton's "For Your Eyes Only" peaked at #4 in October 1981. Madonna's "Die Another Day" hit #8 in November 2002.
Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66's smartly-arranged cover version of "The Look Of Love" (from 1967's Casino Royale) also made the top 10. It hit #4 in July 1968. This version didn't appear in the film, which is usually not considered an official Bond film in any case.
Adele co-wrote "Skyfall" with Paul Epworth, with whom she collaborated on "Rolling In The Deep." That song won a Grammy in February as Song of the Year. If "Skyfall" wins the Oscar, Adele will become only the third woman to win both an Oscar for Best Song and a Grammy for Song of the Year. She would follow Marilyn Bergman (who won both awards for co-writing "The Way We Were") and Barbra Streisand (who won both awards for co-writing "Love Theme From 'A Star Is Born' (Evergreen)."
Thomas Newman composed the score for Skyfall. Newman has amassed 10 Oscar nominations (without a win). His noms include scores for The Shawshank Redemption, American Beauty, Finding Nemo and WALL-E.
Newman's score for Skyfall is vying to become the second from a Bond film to receive an Oscar nomination. The first was Marvin Hamlisch's 1977 score for The Spy Who Loved Me. (It lost, quite understandably, to John Williams' score for the blockbuster Star Wars.)
This means that none of John Barry's 11 Bond scores (from 1963's From Russia With Love to 1987's The Living Daylights) received a Best Score nomination, nor did any of David Arnold's five Bond scores (from 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies to 2008's Quantum Of Solace).
Two Bond soundtracks have made the top 10: Goldfinger, which logged three weeks at #1 in March 1965, and Thunderball, which hit #10 in March 1966. Live And Let Die is the only other Bond soundtrack to make the top 20. It hit #17 in 1973.
Since "Skyfall" won't even be released for a few more days, isn't Oscar talk a little premature? Perhaps. But I know how the game is played. Every single Oscar voter knows that Adele is the hottest thing in pop music. Most could tell you that she swept the Grammys earlier this year. Many, if not most, could even tell you the names of a few of her songs. They are predisposed to liking the song and voting for it. That's how such pop veterans as Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie and Phil Collins won Oscars for songs that are far from their best work. And since Adele is at her creative peak, there's every chance that the song will actually be good, which always helps.