Way back in September 2015, Sam Smith’s “Writing’s On The Wall” was first heard by the public just a month before the release of SPECTRE, while Adele’s “Skyfall” was released a mere three weeks before the film of the same name premiered. No Time To Die is pushing the window out even further with Billie Eilish’s theme song dropping the better part of two months before the film finally reaches screens, but this lines up with the way this movie’s production and marketing has confounded tradition and expectation at every turn, including the series of 30 second spots accompanying the Superbowl and Oscars which have included one or two new shots and lines without actually telling us anything, keeping the pot boiling before the second trailer arrives sometime in the next few weeks.
Any initial resistance to the idea of Eilish singing a Bond theme song seems to have evaporated in the wake of her comments about the love she and her brother/co-writer/producer Finneas O'Connell share for the franchise and the delicate rendition of “Yesterday” they performed at the Academy Awards, and there’s been a real buzz of anticipation for “No Time To Die”, which debuted just a little while ago.
The best and most memorable Bond theme songs take elements from John Barry’s jazzy arrangements of punchy brass and sweeping strings, mix in a little of the guitar-driven “James Bond Theme”, musically integrate with the film’s score (even if in counterpoint) while lyrically serving its narrative, and deliver the kind of hummable tune with a soaring chorus it’s easy to imagine yourself slaying at karaoke. Get this balancing act right and that song will be inseparable from the film.
So, how have Eilish, O’Connell and the film’s composer Hans Zimmer done?
After a couple of listens, I’m really liking the song and its very classical feel: it hits every single one of those markers above (perhaps not the karaoke), clearly references Madeleine’s betrayal of Bond seen in the trailer and has a beautiful mournful quality that speaks to Bond’s retreat to a solitary life in Jamaica before the plot kicks in. It’s going to be interesting to find out if that’s Johnny Marr’s guitar in the mix, not to mention how the song plays against the visuals of the title sequence. Maybe it’s safer than some might have expected, but going radical hasn’t exactly served the franchise well in the past.
Over to you: please share your thoughts on “No Time To Die”. Like it? Hate it? Think it overly familiar? Sound off in the comments below.
As of this writing, No Time To Die will be released globally from April 2nd 2020 in the UK and April 10th 2020 in the USA.