The name's Adele – just Adele – and she chose to accept the mission of creating and singing the title theme to the new James Bond film, Skyfall.
The song, co-written with Rolling in the Deep collaborator Paul Epworth, is in the smoke-and-brass tradition of Goldfinger. The mood is minor-key and ominous, with Adele stoic in the face of a romantic and/or Chicken-Little catastrophe – "This is the end, hold your breath and count to ten / Feel the earth move and then, hear my heart burst again." The hit-maker's heart may burst, but her throat does not: She rounds down instead of spiking up, which is either sombre nuance or a vocal concession.
The track was recorded at London's illustrious Abbey Road Studios, with an orchestra that numbered 77 players. But who's counting.
OTHER ESSENTIAL TRACKS
Andre Williams, from Life (Alive Natural Sounds); streaming at http://soundcloud.com/pavement-pr/andre-williams-butn
The 76-year-old garage-soul legend who survived Ike Turner and various sleezy addictions has no time for proper contractions or those who in cut in line. The groove is riff-based and insistent. The guitar solo is wicked and weird. And those who are impatient to the point of rudeness are smacked down hard – "why don't you just stop but'n?"
BLUES: Be My Husband
Meshell Ndegeocello (featuring Valerie June), from Pour Une Âme Souveraine: A Dedication To Nina Simone; free download at http://www.girlieaction.com/music/meshell_ndegeocello/downloads/Be_My_Husband_feat_Valerie_June.mp3
On her tribute to Nina Simone (translated as "For a Sovereign Soul"), Meshell Ndegeocello enlists guest singers including the intriguing folk artist Valerie June. The chorus is dreamy, but the verse is a seriously delivered country-blues request for an equal partnership. The end result: A wedding song for those no-nonsense brides-to-be.
Jason Lytle, from the forthcoming Dept. of Disappearance (Anti-); streaming at http://www.npr.org/2012/10/07/162299665/first-listen-jason-lytle-dept-of-disappearance
A sad, cinematic song aims toward the sky and reaches its peak gently. "What's wrong with the safe and warm," the Grandaddy frontman asks, questioning audacious quests. A mountain climber dies frozen on the way down – no second Alping for him.
ALT-COUNTRY: I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
Mike Coykendall, from Chashing Away The Dots (Fluff & Gravy); streaming at http://vimeo.com/46945883
On a haunting, one-chord version of a classic blue-struck ballad, Hank Williams' whip-poor-will bird flies low and lonesome. A frog-croak harmony and a touch of psychedelia produce a mesmerizing effect.
VIDEO / POP: All Your Gold
Bat For Lashes, directed by Noel Paul; streaming at http://www.batforlashes.com
Dressed in ying-yang black-and-white, the singer Natasha Khan dances purposely and starkly on dark beach, often flashing her expressive shoulder blades. Khan's "someone that I knew before" could be Gotye, the singer-songwriter who is either honoured or litigious when it comes to song's the unabashed likeness to his Somebody That I Used to Know mega-hit.