This Week in Soundtrack: Spectre (2013)

Last year we were graced with another James Bond film in Spectre. If there is one thing we all look forward too, fans or not, is the artist that will grace the opening intro. It has been one of the better traditions in movies where both established or newly rising stars take a stab at summarizing a plot in the span of a couple of minutes. Add in some top notch visuals during these opening credits and they become a mini-movie in themselves. We have seen Paul McCartney, Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, U2, Madonna, and Adele (to name a few) grace their presence with the franchise. Unfortunately with the latest offering in Spectre we could possibly have the worst intro to Bond ever.

Now that might be too much hyperbole and there have been some pretty bad songs to grace 007 (look no further then in Quantum of Solace which actually might have THE WORST song). However, Sam Smith just doesn’t provide with the sort of grace or class you’d expect with Bond. He tries but his song called “Writing’s On The Wall” sounds like a parody. The strings piano that accompanies the piece certainly feels Bond but Smith just sounds like he is half assing it. (Certainly doesn’t help he admitted in an interview it took him twenty minutes to write.) Listen to it below and tell me what you think:

For my money it sounds like a male trying to sound like Celine Dion trying to sing a Bond theme. Just not good. Now what you guys may not know is that with most Bond films they go out and get a few alternatives. Most of the time they go for their first option but it is always an interesting ‘What If?’ whenever they pop up. For Spectre, they went and reached out with a surprising band in Radiohead for their alternative. What comes about is something that honestly, and quite frankly, SHOULD have been the movie’s theme:

Now it must be said right off the bat that I am a big fan of Radiohead so there is some bias. But you tell me after listening to Sam Smith’s theme and then listen to Radiohead’s that the latter isn’t SIGNIFICANTLY better. The lyrics might not make a whole lot of sense but what Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, and the rest of the band brings is a hell of a lot of atmosphere. There’s a sense of sexiness to what Yorke is belting out but with a slight sense of mystery as well. Then you have those glorious strings and pianos, which are used correctly than Smith’s piece, that brings a wave of power of the song. What also makes this work is that this feels like a normal song by the group and they didn’t stray too far out of their comfort song for this collaboration. It certainly helps that Greenwood has gone out to do scores for Paul Thomas Anderson so he can lend a hand in making all of the notes hit perfectly.

Unfortunately, the studios decided to stick with Sam Smith’s version rather than Radiohead’s. I mean it worked in the long run cause it has been viewed MILLIONS of times online (110+ million on YouTube alone), gave Smith a lot of acclaim, and even got him an Oscar for Best Song! Meanwhile Radiohead’s take was essentially forgotten and the band had to quietly release it on SoundCloud but has since taken it down (hence why the version I found is on of all places). Maybe in the long run one will be remembered more than the other but I know for a fact that I will personally remember the better of the two and that would be Radiohead’s.


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