Check out Sam Smith’s new James Bond theme, ‘Writing’s on the Wall’

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Check out Sam Smith’s new James Bond theme, ‘Writing’s on the Wall’.

The tweet from English comedian David Schneider perfectly summed up the reaction to Sam Smith’s, Writing’s on the Wall, the theme for the new James Bond movie Spectre. Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall” — the theme to the next James Bond film, Spectre — finally hit the Internet today, and opinions are mixed.Smith is best known for his hit songs “Stay With Me” and “Lay Me Down.” He has won multiple Grammy Awards, including best new artist and record of the year for “Stay.” For those who are used to bombastic Bond songs, Smith’s song “Writing” is certainly a change of pace.

Previous Bond theme songs include Adele’s Skyfall, Tina Turner’s GoldenEye, Duran Duran’s A View to Kill, Shirley Bassey’s Goldfinger and Sheryl Crow’s Tomorrow Never Dies. As the writer points out, it’s easy to make the comparison since the new song is “sung by Sam Smith – like Adele – a British vocalist who’s stormed America with an album mired in heartbreak.” “There’s something quite bold about a male singer using a Bond theme to convey vulnerability – you need a high falsetto threshold to get through the whole thing – but the melody doesn’t dig into your brain: you keep expecting it to arrive at a showstopping chorus that never comes,” he writes. The Guardian referred to it as sounding like an X Factor song, which is the worst thing you can say about music in England short of claiming the song in question was so awful that it gave you all of the venereal diseases at once. In a promotional video, Smith said that instead of making a “big pop song” he wanted to have listeners say, “That’s Bond, that sounds like a Bond theme.’” Accordingly, there has perhaps never been a more defiantly retro title song in the history of the franchise, which is saying something.

Full of textbook sweeping strings and soaring crescendos, it’s so classic Bond you can basically see a sexy silhouette in a circle dancing its way past you. The song is a quiet ballad as opposed to, for example, the theatrical flair of Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” or the more recent effort “Another Way to Die” by Jack White and Alicia Keys, which accompanied the movie “Quantum of Solace.” The song does swell near the middle, recalling the full-power vocals of Adele’s smash hit “Skyfall,” the most recent “Bond” song, before it segues into Smith’s quiet falsetto. The upcoming film includes the return of previous “Bond” stars Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, and Ben Whishaw and also stars Léa Seydoux, Dave Bautista, Monica Belluci, and Christoph Waltz. I would do it in a heartbeat,” said Noel back in March. “And I could do it and it would be great, but I’m not a star and for that you have to be a big star. But as people sit with the song and notice the way it drifts and simpers and contemplates putting down the revolver for romance, they may realize what actually makes the song a departure, and what it actually says about the era we live in.

All the previous men to create 007 anthems performed over-the-top virility: In Jones’s case, it was with lounge-singer swagger and adventure-narrator drama; in the cases of Paul McCartney, or Jack White, or Chris Cornell, it was with seething rock edge. Smith is doing something else entirely—going supremely emotional, vulnerable, weak (the closest Bond predecessor for this unapologetic wimpiness might be to A-ha’s Morten Harket, whose contribution most fans have tried to forget). Rather than Bond-by-numbers strings, why not have an apocalyptic take down of the government? “I’d love to do a James Bond song, but can you imagine it? He’s self-consciously pathetic and pining, entering a cartoonishly high register when at the lyrics’ most abject point: Smith sounds so fragile there that you could argue he’s subverting the franchise, or betraying it. The James Bond character is lizardlike and amoral, a sex machine who’s always made to regret the rare instances when he allows a woman to hold power over him.

Kanye didn’t quite offer himself up for Bond (although we’re certain he has absolutely no qualms as to whether he could take on the challenge), but instead was nominated by ’80s icons Duran Duran. “I think Kanye would do a great job of taking it down a different avenue,” said drummer Roger Taylor. Many previous entries have been about Bond, or about a villain, or about more nebulous concepts, often sung from the perspective of a smitten admirer.

It’s radical enough for the openly gay Smith to choose to inhabit arguably the most aggressively heterosexual hero that Western society has; using that chance to imagine Bond ending his “lifetime running” for gushy committed love can quite plausibly be seen as heretical. For anyone acquainted with Turner’s solo soundtrack to Submarine, you’ll know the singer’s way with a string section and as for bringing an old institution into the modern musical world, we can think of none better than Alex’s lyrical nuance and melodic style. He could have done some wacky ghost punnery,3 but Smith and his producers’ (Jimmy Napes, with a helping hand from Disclosure) wisest choice was to instead lean heavily on the aforementioned Bond sound. So, without blinking, I can say it’s definitely better than “For Your Eyes Only.” Let’s go through this thing piece by piece and figure out if it’s going to crack the top five. 0:01 The song literally starts with strings and horns, confidently announcing “Yes, this is a goddamn James Bond theme!” in a way that recalls the ballsy openings to “Goldfinger” and “Thunderball.” I’m in! 0:36 “I’ve spent a lifetime runnin’. And I always get away.” Listen to how he says “liiiiiffffetime.” He drags it out like he’s Bob Fosse’ing all over the song. “Jaaaaaaaaazz!” 0:57 “I never shoot to miss.” I sincerely hope not.

Though, don’t you love when Bond is clearly outnumbered, points his gun at the coterie of henchmen, hired guns, and mercenaries that surround him, then, at the last second, turns and shoots a conveniently placed gas tank that explodes in a giant ball of flame, allowing our man to escape unharmed? That’s technically “shooting to miss,” so minus points to Smith. 1:14 I think this is the part of the song that is bothering the section of the Internet that hates it.

The kids will love it, though. 2:14 “A million shards of glass that haunt me from my past.” I am trying not to read into these lyrics to figure out plot details, but they’re not making it easy for me. OK, seriously, since we haven’t seen Christoph Waltz’s face much in the ads, I have to assume he’s been disfigured by … you guessed it, broken glass. 4:30 And it just kinda peters out. It has the Bond sound, Smith’s vocals work really well during the verses, and it retains the vaguely apocalyptic feel of “Skyfall.” It just completely falls apart once he starts auditioning for Pippin.

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