Adele's interpretation of the classic James Bond theme makes waves
It seems inevitable that any release from Adele will immediately result in heavy radio play and high sales numbers, and that's already happened with her latest effort, "Skyfall," the theme song from the upcoming James Bond film of the same name, which opens in the United States on Nov. 9.
The singer's label, Columbia, and the film's production company, Sony Pictures, joined forces to release the track on Oct. 5, the 50th anniversary of the release of the first Bond film. The track was unveiled seven seconds after midnight.
In a partnership with Clear Channel, "Skyfall," produced by longtime Adele collaborator Paul Epworth and recorded in London with a 77-piece orchestra, premiered on approximately 180 radio stations across four formats, playing once an hour for 24 hours.
"Doing a world premiere is a great vehicle for us to generate excitement for our listeners around highly anticipated releases from an established artist such as Adele on a national coordinated level," says Darren Davis, executive VP of national programming platforms at Clear Channel. "A premiere works well here because it's about attracting attention and creating moments for songs by artists that there's a lot of passion around. Plus, it's great exposure for Adele."
The excitement from radio extended beyond the 24-hour premiere, with the instantaneous rotations earning the track 22 million in audience impressions in its first three days at four formats (according to Nielsen BDS), as well as a debut at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Adam Burnes, PD for Clear Channel's KVUU Colorado Springs, Colo., has been playing the track approximately every three hours, hoping that listeners identify KVUU as the "Adele station."
"Everyone is just hungry for more from Adele," Burnes says. "Typically when an artist had this much exposure from one album there can be a little bit of burn. But I don't think we felt that so much with Adele. Soundtrack songs [usually] don't get this much attention, but based on the timing and the artist, it's working."
The sales front has been equally strong. The track quickly shot to No. 1 on iTunes in 48 countries, according to Scott Greer, senior VP of marketing at Columbia. (It has since been knocked out of the top spot.) "Skyfall" bows at No. 3 on Billboard's Digital Songs chart, selling 261,000 first-week copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. In addition, its official lyric video raked in more than 20 million views on YouTube in the first four days and Sony Pictures is using the track as a sound-bed for its new TV ads for the movie.
"There's not many artists who can have that kind of a start for a song, let alone a song that's really a movie theme," Greer says. "[Radio and sales] go hand in hand with what we're seeing from the press. Not only is there a new song from Adele, but there's excitement that it lives up to the promise of what it could be."
But it begs the question: Is "Skyfall" a soundtrack novelty or can it sustain sales and radio play beyond the film?
"At this point it kind of has a novelty aspect to it," says Rick Gillette, PD for CBS Radio's WXRK-FM New York. "But just remember: When people started playing 'Rolling in the Deep,' it had a novelty feel because we don't play a lot of '60s-sounding, throwback British torch-singer tunes. But that song captured the imagination and the ears of America, and radio followed suit. This might be the exact same thing."
Greer mentions that there aren't any plans for an official music video or promotional appearances by the singer, adding, "The real test is what happens the week of Nov. 9. That's where the campaign really takes shape, when people come out of the movie theaters and that song is impressed in people's memories."