After weeks of waiting, Sam Smith's Spectre tune - "Writing's On The Wall" - has finally dropped! Clear your ears, and take a listen below with an open mind.
The single dropped this morning, and contrary to the information available previously it looks like iTunes is selling the track worldwide as we speak. As expected, the new title song from the film we used to call "Bond 24" is something different from the norm. While it still reclaims the orchestral headiness that Adele's Skyfall brought back to the fold last year, Smith's tune is a steadily paced ballad. As a song at face value, this is pretty impressive and definitely indicative of a more dressed-up version of the melancholy that Sam Smith usually tackles in his music. When it comes to evaluating the song as a Bond theme, the story starts to change.
"Writing's On The Wall" isn't a bad Bond theme, especially considering we live in a world where "Die Another Day" still painfully exists. But to make a direct comparison, "Skyfall" was such a powerful and moody theme to open a James Bond film with, while at the same time maintaining the momentum a Bond song requires to drive an opening title sequence. When you take into account the fact that said title sequence is the bridge between whatever adrenaline-filled opening the film you're about to watch carries, and the film proper, "Writing's On The Wall" does get docked some points for its more ballad-y qualities.
However, that's not to say the single version of "Writing's On The Wall" is the one we'll hear when Spectre opens later this fall. In some cases, the final film contains a slightly retooled version that fits the opening titles better in the long run. The most recent example would be the Jack White / Alicia Keys duet for Quantum Of Solace,"Another Way To Die," which ended up dropping a single that sounded like this...
…only to end up dropping that awkward call and response grunt between the two artists, and sound more like this in theaters.
It's not that "Writing's On The Wall" is a bad song. In fact, considering that Sam Smith's shtick might not be for everyone, this is actually a pretty damned good song. That gloomy and dark quality to his music helps sell the actual personal danger that 007 is going to face when going up against an organization that's had it out for him since day one. But when it comes to trying to peg this song into our rankings of Bond themes, that is a question that is hard to answer at this time. Perhaps with a couple more listens, and a slightly altered film mix when Spectre hits theaters on November 6th, we'll be able to give you a more definitive answer. Until then, we'll just enjoy it for what it is, and enjoy it we do!
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CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.