Friday, October 9th, 2015

Sam Smith – Writing’s on the Wall

We’ll see.


Jonathan Bogart: The worst film franchise in cinema history and Sam Smith deserve one another.

Thomas Inskeep: Musical Ambien that sounds exactly like you’d expect “Sam Smith sings the new Bond theme” to sound. 

Edward Okulicz: I don’t have any intention of seeing the new Bond film, but extrapolating the plot of the movie from this song suggests that James Bond is now 70 and enjoying a middle-class retirement while learning how to cope with constipation.

Alfred Soto: Oh for fuck’s sake — Sam Smith with an orchestra. Respectability politics.

Katherine St Asaph: This string arrangement deserves somebody other than Fish-Eyed Michael Bolton. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but where’s The Weeknd when you need him?

Brad Shoup: I’m now up to four Bond films, and I’m still baffled by the conversations this franchise inspires. The gap between what the Bond films actually seem to be (low-stakes colonial schlock) and what they actually mean to people is vast, and never vaster than when we talk about The Bond Theme. Smith’s snow-flecked, string-swollen ballad seems appropriate for the doleful Sam Mendes entries; the orchestra bends its notes in that patented 007 way, and the singer follows. He’s no more cardboard than any other Bond element I’ve seen on YouTube or half-asleep on a bus.

Iain Mew: A repeat of the sheer cliff face ballad approach of “Skyfall” (and it even gets falling in again) is the dullest choice. Worse, Sam Smith has a voice with good uses, as the one quietest bit almost demonstrates, but the comparison to Adele when blasting full force is a deeply unflattering one.

Patrick St. Michel: In any other context, this would be another tedious slow burner from Sam Smith, another chance to roll eyes at how stupidly over-the-top this thing is. But since it will best experienced in minute-long form before a James Bond movies really gets going, it does the job of being big and dramatic (and British) admirably. Doesn’t come close to touching the best Bond theme ever, but is solid big-budget fare.

W.B. Swygart: It’s weird how many times Smith claims to be “risking it all” in these lyrics because there’s no drama here whatsoever. The chorus gets run into the ground early, and then a bit more after that; similarly, he shunts into the upper register and then hasn’t got anywhere to go. There’s a reason why “Kiss from a Rose” still rules the karaoke more than 20 years later – it’s an adventure every second, the orchestra exploding with color and characters everywhere, and fuckin’ Seal is all in whether he’s going big or small. This, by contrast, is an orchestra that sounds expensive, overlaid with four minutes of Sam Smith Voice. Probably sound alright over the credits, mind.

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2 Responses to “Sam Smith – Writing’s on the Wall”

  1. Low-stakes colonial shlock can’t be anything but interesting when it chronicles a sort of world state of mind over 50 years and counting. Live and Let Die is one of the most bafflingly poorly thought out mainstream movies in history, but it’s not dull to watch it and think about that. The repositioning with Casino Royale was also interesting. And very few franchises give us as many silly practical stunts that cost this much. There’s both analysis to be done and laughs to be had over the Bond formula and its evolution. Skyfall was dreadfully dull, though. This song, which for me is just a Bond’d “I Will Survive” is too much pastiche compared to the high of the Brosnan themes, but better than Adele’s because it skips that annoying chorus.

  2. Oh and it will definitely be full length in movie form as well.