Adele sang in the theme from “Skyfall”: “this is the end.” Let’s hope not. But the new James Bond theme song, for “Spectre,” is a bust.
Sam Smith’s song “Writing’s on the Wall,” was released last Friday to much fanfare. As a matter of course, the song skipped up to number 1 on iTunes and stayed there for a couple of days.
But just five days after release, “Writing’s on the Wall” is down to number 24 — and sinking fast. On amazon.com the single is at number 47. It doesn’t seem to be on the US or Global Spotify charts at all. (Is it possible no one is streaming it? Really?)
Luckily, the song is number 1 in the UK. Maybe Smith is a British thing.
Is the writing on the wall for “Spectre”? Let’s hope not. But the song is not a good harbinger. Basically, it’s awful. It’s a limp noodle version of “Skyfall,” a melodramatic dead end that forebodes no spectre of anything, certainly not excitement.
The single is also simply not radio friendly. It’s long winded, pedestrian, and boring. Your mind wanders before you get to the chorus. And as I noted last Friday, this is the first Bond song I can recall in ages that doesn’t include the title of the movie. It sounds like the theme song for a movie called “Writing’s on the Wall.” Didn’t Smith like the word Spectre?
I hate to say it but it’s important to remember that Smith’s most famous song so far– “Stay with Me”– was nicked from Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” He had to amend the credits and pay Petty.
Choosing a very early songwriter with few credits was a gamble on the part of the Bond people. Maybe they thought they’d get something with a gospel-feel. But Smith simply re-watered “Skyfall.” Also, after Adele’s giant anthem was such a hit, won an Oscar etc, it may have been time for something either more uptempo, rock song like “Live and Let Die,” or a big pop ballad by experts.
Remember too that Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager wrote “Nobody Does it Better.” Carly Simon sang it. Richard Perry produced it. This was like having the 1927 Yankees make your record.
Can “Writings on the Wall” come back? Unlikely.
(PS A total non sequitir— but I totally love “Renegades” by X Ambassadors. Now, that’s a radio single! )