Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Quantum Solace Theme a White Elephant?

After taking forever to nail down someone to actually write and perform the theme for Quantum of Solace, there's been a tremendously quick turnaround for the Jack White/Alicia Keys duet -- perhaps to quick. The theme, titled "Another Way to Die," was rushed to release this week after it intentionally/unintentionally leaked in new Coke Zero ads which began running last week (which had White a bit nonplussed).

Now that the song is out there, the reaction has been quick, and mostly brutal. I understand some of the knee-jerk from both ears. James Bond fans want something more like "Goldfinger" and Jack White fans want a White Stripes song and White tries to walk the fence, coupling his trademark bluesy distorted riffs backed by the traditional Bond orchestration of horns and strings.

My main complaint is that Alicia Keys seems like an afterthought in the recording, like she walked in as White was already playing and just sort of joined in. But other than that, the song works well enough and ultimately, we should all hold final judgement until we see in the context of a film. I think too often people forget that a theme to a film requires visuals for it to be complete, and after seeing it used in a film, the opinion often changes and morphs over time. A great example would be "Live and Let Die" from Paul McCartney, a song which all agree now is a classic. But if you heard it the first time, with that reggae middle part, you'd have been scratching your head not knowing the context of the film. I think we'll find that the song holds up well, especially compared to the themes of the past 25 years, as low a bar as that seems.

Of course, Noel Gallagher (Oasis) thinks (colorfully) otherwise. "It's a pisstake that the greatest British agent of all time has to be soundtracked by a bunch of f****** Americans" he told NME recently.
I've written a couple of theme tunes. They haven't got very Bond-esque titles, so I would have to tailor the title accordingly. The latest one that I wrote, I listened back to it thinking, 'F****** hell, man! That'd make a f****** great Bond theme.'

Here's hoping those themes will one day see the f****** light of day.

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