The Name’s Bond….
For the first time ever, a James Bond theme song has reached no. 1 in the UK charts. I found this difficult to believe when I read it- out of 24 films spanning over 50 years, featuring some of the most famous artists of all time, it has only just happened in 2015. I’m going to throw a few ideas out there to see why this is the case.
Sam Smith’s song “Writing’s on the Wall”, recently released as the song for “Spectre”, topped the charts last week even though it had mixed reviews when it was released. I have to say I was one of the less enthusiastic listeners when I first heard this song, enjoying the orchestration, but pinning it down to just being the classic “James Bond sound” that we’ve heard in so many of the films. That being said, it is obviously very popular.
The artists of previous Bond themes, like Sam Smith, have always been some of the most famous performers at the time of release; Shirley Bassey (Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever), Paul McCartney (Live and Let Die) and Adele (Skyfall) being just a handful of names you might recognise. These artists will be forever remembered as some of the greatest of their time- is it that Sam Smith has more a fan base than the previous artists? Or is it these artists that helped him get to the top? And why did some of their most famous work not top the charts?
Just looking at the figures of the Bond films alone, you can see the explosion of the film industry over the last 50 years. The budgets have doubled almost every other film, with these bigger projects moving along with society’s demand for film. Maybe we are now wrapped up in film so much that when a theme song is released, it is obligatory to listen to it. Our need to listen to and download popular songs has moved forward with the industry boom, making it natural that the Bond song has finally got to no. 1.
Or maybe it’s the work of all the previous artists and films that’s helped this song finally get to no. 1. Over 50 years of hype for the most famous film series in the world must surely help the promotion of a song. Never do songs have more pre-release discussion that when they represent the Bond franchise. The past songs have been so exciting and set such a precedent, that people can’t wait to hear the next one.
Some of my favourite Bond songs were released for the films that span through the 70s, one of the most iconic decades for the music industry. Perhaps the classic Bond songs of this era didn’t hit the top spot because of the tyranny of choice the lucky listeners of the 70s were presented with. Maybe there was just too much new music to listen to compared to now?
It could simply be, however, that “Writing’s on the Wall” is the best song we’ve had yet. There will never be a deciding answer as to what the best Bond song is, it is all personal opinion. But I do think it’s interesting to see through this franchise how much the music industry has been developed, how it is so integral to other industries and how it’s clearly a very exciting and talked about aspect of our society.