ByJeremy Howard, writer at
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Jeremy Howard

….when you really listen to it, you actually begin to like it.

I wasn’t expecting to.

I didn’t know much of anything about Sam Smith.

I’ll admit, the first time I heard the song and he’s reaching for those high notes, I said to myself, “Wow, he’s…he’s REALLY going for it.”

But let me tell you something…

Writing’s on the Wall is a FANTASTIC Bond song.

In it’s 50 year history, the franchise has always dared to be just a little different. It’s not trying to do what’s popular. It’s trying to do what it’s always done, and that’s to be it’s own thing.

This is a Bond movie.

This isn’t that garden-variety Mission: Impossible series, hehe.

This isn’t, Fast and Furious IX: Keep Crankin’ ’em Out.

This is a Bond movie.

Sometimes, the risk backfires.

I’m thinking of the particularly odd The Living Daylights (1987) by A-HA.

Sometimes, it’s magic in a bottle…

Sometimes it’s literally magic…

You never know what you’re going to get with a Bond song, but there is a lot you do know you’re going to get…

Great vocalists.

Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Carly Simon, Sheena Easton, Tina Turner.

AdeleSkyfall (2012).


Sam Smith delivers a vocal performance on par with any of these amazing artists.

You know, personally, my musical tastes are more in line with Chis Cornell who rocked it with You Know My NameCasino Royale (2006). I don’t think I will be working out to Writing’s On the Wall anytime soon.

But I also don’t workout with All Time High by Rita Coolidge from the Octopussy (1983) soundtrack either.

And yet, these are all amazing Bond songs, as is Writing’s On the Wall.

One particular aspect that unifies all of these great songs is the wonderful integration of vocals with instrumental.

To me, the best of the Bond songs reveal the underlying theme music unique to that particular Bond movie.

We’re all familiar with the classic 007 riff, but if you really listen carefully, the theme behind the vocals translates into the unique score for the film.

Composer, John Barry, was masterful with this. When you listen to three scores from the Roger Moore era – Moonraker, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, Barry gives each of these movies a distinct flavor, and when you listen to Shirley Bassey, Rita Coolidge, and Duran Duran do their thing, there’s always a hint of John Barry in the background.

Writing’s On the Wall harkens back to this classic John Barry era of Bond. The song is unquestionably Sam Smith’s. The distinctive new theme that is subtle in the background is current composer, Thomas Newman’s.

The great thing about these Bond movies is that there’s always going to be something for everyone.

If you’re a Chris Cornell fan, maybe you’ll cringe when you listen to Writing’s on the Wall. And if you’re a Sam Smith fan, maybe you find You Know My Name completely nauseating.

And yet, we’re all Bond fans. And that’s what really matters.

Whether or not you think the song is good from a personal perspective, well, that’s subjective.

As a Bond song, though, when you really hear the music, when you listen to the vocals, when the score kicks in, when the themes become apparent, all I can say….

…Sam Smith knocked it out the park.


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