Wednesday 23 March 2016

The writing's on the wall: you suck, Sam Smith!

I need to talk about Sam Smith and Writing's on the Wall - his theme song for the latest James Bond film (Spectre). Quite frankly, it sucks.

I thought it sucked when I first heard it on the radio. I thought it stank when I watched the movie the other weekend. And I thought it positively reeked when I watched him on TV singing it live on a talk show and then again at the Oscars - I cannot believe he won a gold statue for it (and tried to claim he was the first openly gay man to win an Academy Award, but that's another story).

Sure it's not the first undeserving Oscar to be awarded, but has the world gone mad? In the words of Mugatu from Zoolander:

I've tried to work out why I hate the song so much, and I think the main culprit is Sam Smith himself. His falsetto is TERRIBLE - and even more horrific live when he can't hide behind fancy record production wizardry. Men singing waaaayy too high is really not my thing. There are exceptions of course - The Bee Gees, Jeff Buckley, Prince, Thom Yorke, Frankie Valli and Matt Belamy to name a few - but generally I find dudes singing like chicks annoying (hello Justin Timberlake and Chris Martin). Why can't they sing an octave lower?

Anyway back to Sam Smith. His song, if you really listen to it, is not actually that bad from a songwriting point of view. If it had been arranged and produced differently, and sung by someone else (I really think a female voice would have worked better - let's say Lady Gaga for now to keep things even on the commercial pop front), then I think the song could have worked. It would have been way more powerful and perhaps done justice to the Bond franchise.

But alas, we're stuck with Sam warbling and whispering his way to a golden statue. Crazy times.

Of course, he's not the first to have produced a 007 shocker hit - Madonna ranking the highest on my shit list with her tune Die Another Day. But surely by now you would look at the mistakes others have made and be sure to up the anti?

For the record, my top Bond theme song is Live and Let Die by Paul McCartney and Wings. Ok, I know it's a predictable choice, but it's an awesome song in it's own right yet also perfectly compliments the movie which is what a good theme tune should do. Other ones that nailed it are Goldfinger (Shirley Bassey), We have all the time in the World (Louis Armstrong), A view to a kill (Duran Duran), Nobody does it better (Carly Simon), and another personal favourite: You know my name (Chris Cornell) which I think is the best Bond theme for well over 20 years. It's a cracker of a song that perfectly embodied Daniel Craig's 007 and introduced a new generation to the series.

Alright, Adele's Skyfall wasn't too bad I guess either (do NOT get me started on Hello), but it certainly didn't deserve an Oscar either. At least she sang in the right octave though.

What's your favourite Bond track?

Here's the chronological list for you with clips to boot:



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