Die Another Day – Soundtrack

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Album Review by Dr Kuma

I can’t think of any other films where the general public not just fans, look forward to hearing what the new Bond theme sounds like. They are such an iconic institution that the public expects great things, something that sounds “Barryesque” or “Bondian”.

I was very pleased to hear that Madonna, singer of some of the best Bond style ballads of the 80’s & 90’s was signed to sing the title track. Imagine my horror then when, one dark October morning I heard one of the worst Bond themes ever belting out of my radio as I shaved. I nicked myself as I rose my head to say “what the #### is that?” It was as though a robot had been programmed on repeat and the batteries were running low. Not that I want to sound unhip or anything but this “music” was a) not good and b) more importantly not Bond. It was like a weaker track from one of Maddie’s weaker albums. It was sub Erotica. The terrible line “Sigmund Freud – analyze this” is one of the worst lines in music, never mind Bond history, ever. I have mellowed slightly since then and can just about get away with accepting the song but that’s it. In the same way that most of the recent Bond themes have been passable efforts (except THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH – editor) this will also add to the “seldom played” list of 007 themes, which is a disappointment to me.

Now to the soundtrack itself. Whereas previous themes by David Arnold have been patchy and his first GOLDENEYE didn’t really use the Bond theme to full effect, this effort relies on it far too much. There is nothing much that the Oakenfold mix of the Bond theme covers that Moby’s version didn’t on the TOMORROW NEVER DIES soundtrack, it’s just slightly heavier, but sounds like the theme from MORTAL KOMBAT! The best “new” version of the Bond theme is still Bond 77 by Marvin Hamlish from THE SPY WHO LOVED ME – that’s 25 years ago! A great many fans of the Bond films are also fans of David Arnold. I myself think he is treading water and relying on the pedigree built up by John Barry. The person I would really like to see tackle a Bond soundtrack is Craig Armstrong, whose use of real Bondesque instruments could replace the synth reliance of Arnold.

The soundtrack itself is a mixed bag and doesn’t even have the closing theme so effectively used by Arnold in his past efforts such as SURRENDER by KD Lang and the fantastic Scott Walker closer from THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, I’VE ONLY MYSELF TO BLAME. Strangely, after several listens, parts of the latter (A VIEW TO A KILL) Barry start to make themselves known and you think to yourself that perhaps this isn’t the disaster you thought it was. You start to pick themes out and laugh at the use of “tribute” instruments to the previous Bond films, but really can’t quite let go of the fact that this really doesn’t have any great love theme moments. (Even Eric Serrara had the fantastic PAM theme in the otherwise poor LICENSE TO KILL soundtrack). Bond here would seem to appeal to those who think that a Porsche 911 is cooler than an Aston Martin. Because I listened to this before the movie, I thought that there wouldn’t be any great love scenes and that the movie sounded like one big chase until someone pointed out that this was only a sample of around 40 minutes of the film. Point taken but could they not have chosen a better 40 minutes?

The soundtrack for THUNDERBALL, released at the height of 60’s Bond mania, was released to capture the Christmas market place of ’65 when it was only half finished, to meet the demand. The record companies at that time were happy just to take 50% of John Barry’s work and release it. This half finished soundtrack has never been changed or released with the music from the second half of the film, but is still much better than this effort, which, in parts, sounds left to automated composers. This is one of Arnold’s better efforts but it ends leaving you feeling that Bond spends the entire movie in a nightclub instead of a casino and that Bond has wandered into an OMEN film. It, like the THUNDERBALL soundtrack, sounds half finished and you feel disappointed that such an important milestone in the Bond cannon seems to have been let down in one of the most important facets of it’s history – the soundtrack. Along with the Spaghetti Westerns I can’t think of any other movies so recognisable by their soundtrack. Without the overuse of the Bond theme, you’d be hard pushed to place this along side YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE or ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE.

License too shrill.

3 stars