The Soundtrack


By • Nov 22nd, 2002 •

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Music composed by David Arnold
Conducted by David Arnold, Nicholas Dodd.
Theme song composed by Madonna Ritchie, Mirwais Ahmadzai. Performed by Madonna

Enhanced CD with CD Rom features:
Madonna’s Die Another Day Music Video
The Making of the Video Segment
Bond Bonus Extras
Women of Bond Gallery
Bond Movie Poster Gallery
The James Bond Theme (Bond vs Oakenfield) Music Video
And more – Features play on most computers

James Bond is Back – for the 20th (official) time in 40 years, and suitably acknowledging it’s legacy, the film features many in-jokes and homages to it’s history – Q’s stockroom of old gadgets from previous movies; Bond gets yet another gadget-ridden Aston Martin; Halle Berry’s Ursula Andress style exit from the ocean (and appropriately (if you’re a Brit) it’s at this point that Bond holds a book entitled ‘Birds of the West Indies’, a book originally to be found on Bond creator Ian Fleming’s coffee table at his Jamaican villa (called ‘Goldeneye’) and very inspirational for the name of his character – the author’s name was James Bond), and there are more.

The score is no exception.

The famous guitar twanging James Bond theme is prevalent in more or less its original form. The chords from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service form the opening and later segments of ‘Wipeout’ and appear again in the following track ‘Iced Inc.’, and the intro from ‘Going Down Together’ (only in a Bond film…) is lifted straight from ‘Mountains and Sunsets’ (You Only Live Twice). The rest of the music is simply a rerun of Arnold’s scores for his two other Bond efforts, loud, pounding, aggressive stuff with the Bond theme thrown in every now and then. Exciting and pulse-racing it may be, but it has no soul.

I think the problem lies in the current trend of getting one person to write the score and another bankable artist to come up with a theme. Veteran Bond composer John Barry composed both, from the earliest days of Goldfinger right through to The Living Daylights, working with artistes as varied as Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Lulu, Rita Coolidge, Duran Duran, and A-Ha. They may have got the chance to perform the title song (which was usually an aspiration in itself) but Barry would write it. Subsequently the main theme would crop up in varying forms throughout the movie, so, if you listen to one of Barry’s Bond soundtracks, you almost immediately know which film it’s from. With Arnold’s you just know it’s a Bond film. I think Arnold did try with Tomorrow Never Dies, his first Bond score, and which had a closing song performed by K. D. Lang, strangely titled (retitled?) ‘Surrender’, whereas the chorus predominantly features the words of the title. The same melody is also featured in the track ‘White Knight’ which accompanies the pre-credit sequence of the movie. It was co-written by Arnold with lyrics by Don Black, John Barry’s old Bond lyricist, and I believe that this was intended to be the main title song. However, obviously the powers that be didn’t like it and an alternative theme song ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’, performed and co-written by Sheryl Crow was chosen to introduce the film. I think this is where the rot set in. Arnold’s song obviously wasn’t a complete turkey and was relegated to the back end of the movie making this the only Bond film with two theme songs on the soundtrack.

I have to say how brilliant it was to hear those brassy Barryesque themes in Tomorrow Never Dies, thinking ‘THIS is what a Bond film should sound like!’ but now they’ve just become repetitive and formulaic, which Barry never was. He could retain the musical Bond identity yet still come up with unique and individual scores.

Another, and I think shameless, thing: Monty Norman is always duly credited for writing the James Bond theme (as they are probably legally obliged so to do) but Arnold blatantly uses John Barry’s arrangements, his style, his very essence, yet Barry’s name isn’t mentioned on any of Arnold’s Bond albums. Come on David – credit where it’s due.

The Die Another Day release panders, like the film, a little too much to Madonna for my liking (I hated the theme song), but if you’re an ardent fan of both her and Bond I suppose it’s worth the money.

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