Television is a vast wasteland, according to Newton Minow.

I don't know what that means...

Posted: 18 September 2008 | posted by David J. Loehr |

We'll return to our regularly scheduled blog in a few minutes. I just wanted to take a minute to talk about Bond music. James Bond music.

Granted, the producers didn't do anyone any favors--least of all their marketing department--by using the title Quantum of Solace, although I give them points for using one of the only remaining titles Ian Fleming came up with. (I double dog dare them to use the last one and name the next movie James Bond in New York. I know, you can't wait, right?)

After the jump, a couple of songs. One's fun. One's uncanny. And one's the actual title song for the new film.

First, the fun song, which I guess is actually called "Quantum of Solace," the poor thing...


For the new film, the producers' first choice was Amy Winehouse. Shockingly enough, the actual song is by Alicia Keys and Jack White, of the White Stripes. Sounds like a match made in, well, some production meeting where they'd spiked the bottled water. The BBC premiered it recently, and it's getting some airplay in Europe already. If you're curious, here it is.

Some are saying this is way better than the title song from Casino Royale, "You Know My Name," by Chris Cornell. Google that and you'll find countless posts at Ain't It Cool News and elsewhere that loathe the song. It's "not the worst Bond song, it's just the worst song." Call me crazy, I actually liked the Cornell song, thought it worked well in context and out. Clearly, growing up with Bond in both book and film--and owning several Bond albums since childhood--doesn't count anymore. Whatever.

But this song? Yeesh. It kind of hurts the ears. No. It's kind of like sticking flaming hot knitting needles in your ears. (Thank you, Michael O'Donoghue.)

All joking aside, Winehouse might have pulled it off. Just listen to Love is a Losing Game and think about what might have been.

Of course, this is the same group that commissioned a theme for Tomorrow Never Dies by k.d. lang, then turned around and got a new one by Sheryl Crow instead. The Crow one is all right, if bland. The lang one? They retitled it "Surrender" and used it over the end credits, long after people had left. Here, give it a listen. (You may need to click twice. Go ahead, make the joke, you know you want to...)

Tell me that doesn't just scream Bond. She's channelling Shirley Bassey, for crying out loud. Close your eyes, you can see the nude silhouettes on trampolines, the not-at-all-too-phallic-guns, etc.

There's one thing that this and the Cornell song have in common. They were co-written with David Arnold, who's scored the last few films and has done a beautiful job. He gets the Bond music vibe; better yet, he seems to exude it. His scores pick up on music cues from each of these songs, but it has little effect in TND because we never got to hear the song at the top of the film.

So once again, we're going to get some hideous song out of some misguided attempt to seem "hip" and "relevent" instead of a song that has something to do with the story and the music within.

I have no answers. So I will leave you with the original, unused theme for The Man With the Golden Gun by Alice Cooper. Seriously.

Better yet, a proposed theme for Thunderball by Johnny Cash. Just amazing.

Which just goes to show, sometimes the producers got it right...