Thursday, June 19, 2008

007's Quantum musical chairs

You can now add Welsh singer Duffy and UK pop diva Leona Lewis to the long list of names that have been rumored to be singing the theme to the latest Bond film Quantum of Solace. For a film that's got a tentatively scheduled release date for the fall, you'd think that this would be wrapped up by now, but the list of artists that have come and gone has grown to include Amy Winehouse, Beyonce, Jack White (White Stripes, Raconteurs,) Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz) and The Killers. All have been eliminated like it's 007 Idol, either by passing on it, asking for too much money (Beyonce,) never getting beyond an initial conversation, or, in the case of Winehouse, just not being able to get your sh*t together enough to pull it off. It's Quantum of Solace people, not quantum physics.

Supposedly it's narrowed down to Lewis and Duffy as far as who gets the honor. Lewis is there at the insistance of her manager, American Idol's Simon Cowell, while Duffy has just been coy about the rumors, only saying "a lady never exposes her secrets." Assuming that the rumors are true, then Duffy should be the obvious choice, and I'll tell you why:

1. The Welsh Factor: Shirley Bassey, pride of Wales, was tapped three different times to sing Bond themes, including the most famous, "Goldfinger." Add to that, fellow Wales product Tom Jones with "Thunderball" and when it comes to Bond themes, being Welsh has it's privileges.

2. Timelessness: While Leona Lewis has a decent enough voice, she's a Cowell product, which translates into bland pop with a short shelf-life. Having the band a-ha doing "Living Daylights" is still a black mark on the franchise. Meanwhile, Duffy's style is timeless, reminiscent of the white soul of Dusty Springfield, which brings me to..

3. A Dusty Do-over: One of the very best Bond songs ever recorded wasn't even a theme song, or even for that matter, from an official Bond movie. The Burt Bacharach/Hal David song "The Look of Love," sung by Dusty Springfield, was written for Casino Royale (1967.) As much as Duffy would love to see an end to the Dusty comparisons, her reverb-soaked blue-eyed soul would be a perfect fit for a franchise subtly looking back to the past with it's eyes on the future.

4. More Bond Babes: By choosing Duffy, the new Bond series now has a slew of retro-chic artists to work with for the next film. Besides Duffy, there's Adele, Estelle, Lily Allen and of course, a second chance for Amy Winehouse if she gets enough rehab.

Now all we need is a producer/collaborator. Generally in the past, the film's composer has worked with the artist and songwriters on the theme song, to making it work with the film's score, but it appears they were willing to forgo that this round (and that ship has sailed with a release date in the fall). Duffy's done alright working with Bernard Butler (Suede) but for James Bond, you have to dial it up a notch, and I of course have my own suggestions, both obvious in different ways:

1. Danger Mouse - The man known to his mom as Brian Burton is an obvious choice only in that he's essentially the obvious production choice for nearly everything now, from Gnarls Barkley to the forthcoming album from Beck. He's another artist that looks to the past to inspire the future, and it's guaranteed his take on Bond would be subtle and exciting. Unfortunately, he's more than likely too busy working on his hundredth project of the year.

2. Barry Adamson - The name for most isn't going to be obvious, but if you've heard any of his work, it seems like he's been producing music for Bond films for years already. The former Bad Seeds bassist has been creating soundtracks for movies that don't exist now since his solo debut Moss Side Story in 1989. He's more likely to be available, closer in proximity (Manchester, UK) and closer enough in style to composer David Arnold that what comes out of it won't seem too disjointed from Arnold's score.

Dina Eaton has been the music editor for the past four Bond films, so I'd have to assume she's on board for this one (there's not one named currently for Quantum,) so she knows the crunch she faces. In case there's any doubt as to the levity of the choice, here's a playlist of all the Bond themes throughout the years (see which ones stick out like as sore thumb).

Playlist: James Bond Themes

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