Because, it seems, alliteration is all we’ve got.
When are they going to learn that a Bond song that’s not titled after the movie is a really terrible idea? I’ve stated before that for a song to be truly considered, in my opinion, it has to be named after the film title. Not that a film-titled-song is a guarantee of success (most people despise Die Another Day) but I do think it’s essential to creating the perfect theme. Unfortunately, the SPECTRE theme is no exception.
If you haven’t heard it, check out Sam Smith’s WRITING’S ON THE WALL which I know is available on Spotify.
My first thoughts were that the musical score is SPOT ON. Nailed it. Sounds just like it should, especially coming off of SKYFALL.
Without the musical score, the lyrics fall. Hard. In fact, the pacing and the lyrics feel like they could easily be applied to a Disney movie. Or maybe the next sappy John Legend loves Chrissy Teigen song. Don’t get me wrong–I love both of those possibilities. But they’re not Bond.
I have a few specific problems with the lyrics that I will address.
“I want to feel love” Bullshit. First of all, no. Bond? No. Secondly, remember the time he was married? I thought that sort of cured the love thing. Thirdly, I think there’s some point in one of the books where he talks about falling for all the women he bangs. [If I wasn’t supposed to be doing work for grad school right now, I’d dig out my notes. Maybe later.]
“If I risk it all” Don’t you, always, James? Haven’t you, already? Did you forget Teresa Bond? This is all for Queen and Country. You’re not delivering papers on an especially traffic-y street, my good man.
“When you’re not here I’m suffocating” This is just too much. Unless it’s referring to the job. In which, yes, Bond, you can’t survive without your 007 status. Not for long, anyway, the films suggest.
I’m a little bummed at the content, as well. Given the prominence of Spectre (the organization), the word’s association with ghosts, phantoms, spirits of the past, and all the skulls and imagery that have been produced for the film, that this isn’t more haunting or isn’t hitting at some of those areas. The context we know seems rife for songwriting.
There’s just something about WRITING’S ON THE WALL that is so soft after vulnerable after the strong, deliberate, willful SKYFALL. Initially it’s off-putting and inconsistent, but I know Smith knows more about the film than we do, so I can’t hate too much for that reason.
Also, I’m just going to say it: the falsetto is distracting. It takes me out of the Bond trance. I wonder how this will work on screen.
All of that being said, if you know Bond themes, you know they are often highly time specific. Songs like SKYFALL and GOLDFINGER and LIVE AND LET DIE are rare, especially when you consider the popularity of Adele and Paul McCartney And Wings. Artists like Madonna, Duran Duran, Garbage, and ultimately Sam Smith, contextualize the film within the world and time it’s produced. That in itself has a value and a place in the Bond Canon.
I admit the song needs to be imbibed in the context of the film, and I look forward to seeing and hearing it in theaters this fall. I like the song enough. I just wish it could have been more.