Friday, September 22, 2006

Since I Won't be Getting Any Women Anyway, Here's a Page-Long Post on James Bond Music

The new Bond song popped up online earlier this week. It’s called “You Know My Name” (because, you know, “Casino Royale” would sound silly), and it’s written by the film’s composer, David Arnold, sung by some guy named Chris Cornell, with lyrics by Don Black (who has been doing them since Thunderball in 1965, for Christ’s sake). It’s altogether not horrendous, but not entirely successful, either.

Traditionally, the film’s composer writes the song so that it can show up later on in the film as an action piece or something to play during the romantic bits. John Barry did this to great effect from ’63 to ’87, and is responsible for most of the Bond songs that anyone has an awareness of. Starting in Tomorrow Never Dies 9 years ago, David Arnold began writing the scores to the Bond films, but the producers have consistently screwed him over when it comes to the title songs.
Composer David Arnold nursing a hangover in a promotional photo

A good portion of Arnold’s score to that film centred around a song he wrote sung by k.d. lang. Considering her just a tad too butch (in a bad way) for the mass market, the producers brought Sheryl Crow in at the last minute to whip some piece of crap song together without Arnold’s input. Thus, the movie opens with a forgettable song that is nowhere to be heard in the rest of the film, and it is not until the end credits that you hear k.d. lang’s version. Of course, by then, nobody gives a shit.
k.d. lang (not pictured) looks suspiciously similar to Rob Schneider

For the next one, The World is Not Enough, the producers let Arnold write the title song in conjunction with Garbage. It turned out decent enough (if a tad slow), and the main bonus there is that the frigging title theme is referenced continuously throughout the rest of the movie. I mean, it’s not rocket science here; this is what they should be doing for every movie.

In spite of this, the producers felt they needed a big name for the next movie; someone that would get people talking about the song as much as the movie. Being that the last moderately successful Bond theme was Duran Duran’s A View to a Kill, in 19 frigging 85, this is a fair concern. So, being the geniuses that they are, they brought in Madonna and had her write a song completely independent of Arnold that lacks any sense that it is a main theme to a James Bond movie. Unsurprisingly, what is inarguably the absolute worst Bond theme is never heard from again in the movie after it makes its initial appearance at the start, and the film has no musical cohesion. This is made all the worse when you consider that Arnold had a kick-ass song already written, parts of it you can pick up at various points in the movie’s score.

For Casino Royale, for whatever reason, the producers seem to have magically given full control to Arnold in writing the title song (like World is Not Enough). Given carte blanche, he goes for some guy named Chris Cornell. He is apparently in some band called Audioslave (so you know it has to be great), and he sounds like Chad Kroeger or the guy from Creed. Basically, he is an awful, awful human being. The song itself is reminiscent of Nickleback’s song at the end of the first Spider-Man movie; that is to say that it is pretty bad.

I’ve gotta say that I’m stunned. For years I’d told myself that if they just gave Arnold the freedom to write whatever he wanted, he’d knock it out of the park. Like, I figured maybe he’d go back to Shirley Bassey or Tom Jones or maybe someone contemporary who was interesting, like Goldfrapp or even go the all-instrumental route like On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and team up with the Propellerheads again. Nope. Chris fucking Cornell, I guess, is a guy Arnold thinks is appropriate to sing a Bond song. It’s like when you believe in God, but your infant child gets cancer and dies anyway. Like, seriously, I don’t know what to believe anymore.

The silver lining to the cloud is that while the singing and guitar riffs are terrible, the actual tune is pretty catchy. If you can picture an Arnold-esque techno-fied version of it playing while Bond drives a car really fast, or a slowed-down romantic version while Bond is getting a chick mentally prepared to get fucked by him, then you can see some merit in the tune. The best part is that like Arnold’s rejected main theme from Die Another Day (which was to be called “I Will Return”, which is fucking awesome), this one is also based directly on the Bond theme itself. So while I’m not too excited with it as a title song, I am looking forward to hearing how Arnold works it into the rest of the film.


Anonymous Jessica M said...

Hi Mike! It's good to hear from ya again. Let me know when you get phone service in that god forsaken place, and we can catch up. I think our jobs are at opposite ends of the spectrum, city-wise.

8:42 pm  
Blogger Mike said...

You're right. Gay sex in Sandy Bay would probably get one killed, for starters.

12:11 am  
Anonymous Jessica said...

Well, we do have our own share of crazy buggers and homeless folks. So, when you want to get a sandwich at your local Subway, you may encounter a homeless, legless man screaming about watching his comrades die in the Vietnam war. Like, what happened to me on Friday...

9:55 pm  
Blogger Mike said...

I thought the homeless vets thing was a lie cooked up by the Reagan administration. And it probably is; that man was likely a deranged Iraq war vet.

10:27 pm  
Anonymous George said...

Do you think Mr. Bond could get laid in Sandy Bay??? Sorry would Mr. Bond show any interest in any ladies up in Sandy Bay? Sorry are there any available ladies in Sandy Bay? Stay away Bond Stay Away....

10:39 pm  
Blogger sare said...

Hey there 007 - Mike you never fail at making me laugh!!

2:27 am  
Anonymous Jessica said...

And, just today, I was asked for spare change from one of the residents in the building I work in! Now, granted, he probably didn't recognize me, but I *know* he has a place to live and a monthly income. I guess some habits are hard to beat.

9:15 pm  

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