Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Why Sam Smith's New Song Is the Worst James Bond Theme Song Ever
Posted By Pam On Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Three years ago at this time, Adele's "Skyfall" -- the theme for the new James Bond movie in 2012 -- was getting lots of radio play. I remember it took a few listens for me to warm up to it, but all in all it turned out to be a fine modern addition to the Bond theme song legacy. Not one of my favorites, especially as I prefer the themes from the '60s through the '80s, but certainly not one of the worst.
Then I heard Sam Smith's "Writing's On the Wall" for the upcoming Bond film Spectre. Surprisingly (or maybe not) there's been little PR and airplay surrounding this composition. Maybe it's because -- to put it bluntly -- it...well, it sucks. In my honest opinion anyway.
To make sure that I wasn't being unfair, I posted a link to the song on Facebook and asked others what they thought. It was unanimous. Everyone who commented thought it was awful, too.
I should probably preface this by saying that I'm just not a Sam Smith fan. I find his music too slow and ponderous and I think it's safe to say that he (if even unconsciously) ripped off Tom Petty when he released "Stay With Me" and plagiarism just isn't cool. (For those who weren't in the loop, Tom Petty sued Smith last year because "Stay With Me" sounded too much like Petty's "I Won't Back Down." The two musicians reached a settlement out of court.)
But despite that, I was ready to give him the benefit of a doubt here and I was open minded to hearing the song, because it isn't that often a modern musician strikes a chord with me. Here's the song, by the way, if you want to listen to it first before hearing my further thoughts...
For starters, it's too painfully slow. The opening orchestra sweep at the beginning certainly sounds like a 007 theme. But then that droning piano makes me impatient. You would think after "Skyfall" the Broccoli family would have asked for a more upbeat theme, like "You Know My Name" from Casino Royale and "Another Way to Die" that accompanied Quantum of Solace. I nearly dozed off listening to "The Writing's On the Wall" until...
That falsetto begins. Sweet Lord, are my ears really hearing a falsetto in a Bond theme song? I have nothing against falsettos as long as they're appropriate for the song; Mick Jagger can rock (key word: rock) a falsetto on many Rolling Stones songs, and Prince made the singing style his trademark. However, it just doesn't work on a Bond song. A man like Bond is worthy of a deeper, majestic baritone singing his theme song, like Tom Jones did on "Thunderball", not someone who sounds like Barry Gibb.
And the falsetto gets repeated...and repeated...and repeated...throughout the song.
I get that the producers like to keep up with the times and have a modern singer record the Bond theme songs, but this one seriously left me craving the classics from previous decades. Something interesting to note: the original motion picture soundtrack for Spectre contains only the instrumental version of the Sam Smith composition; not the sung version. Hmmmm.
At the end of the day, I suppose it doesn't really matter what gets used for the opening theme song or who sings it when all I care about is the movie itself and if it's entertaining and well done. But considering that Daniel Craig has been hinting in interviews lately that he's about ready to leave the Bond role, maybe this is a sign that some things in Bond's current world are getting tiring and need some rejuvenating.
And call me crazy, but if I'm not mistaken, I thought there was a rumor quite a ways back that Depeche Mode was going to record the theme song for Spectre. "Personal Jesus", anyone?
I sincerely don't mean to offend the Sam Smith fans out there. The tune just isn't my bag. Nonetheless I'm interested in hearing your opinion -- leave a comment and let me know what you think of it.