Sam Smith’s “Writing’s On The Wall” James Bond ‘Spectre’ Theme: Review Revue

Bianca Gracie | September 25, 2015 10:33 am

Being selected to sing the James Bond theme is a coveted feat that many artists dream about accomplishing. The latest 007 track to completely wow everyone was Adele‘s “Skyfall” for the 2012 film of the same name. Now in 2015, fellow UK crooner Sam Smith has been chosen to lend his vocals to the Spectre theme. But unfortunately he did not successfully accomplish his mission.

In our review of the song, we called it a “slowing and boring death”: “Smith goes on to mournfully lament that he wants ‘to feel love.’ Jesus Christ, we get it — we’ve all heard In The Lonely Hour at this point. But couldn’t the lonely heart schtick have been chucked to the side for this project in exchange for a bit of Bond mystery and magic?”

So how do music industry critics feel about Sam Smith’s latest musical attempt? Read what they had to say down below!

:: The Atlantic called the Spectre theme “wimpy”: “Smith sounds so fragile there that you could argue he’s subverting the franchise, or betraying it. The James Bond character is lizardlike and amoral, a sex machine who’s always made to regret the rare instances when he allows a woman to hold power over him. The Daniel Craig era has complicated this notion, but not to the extent that Smith now has. Handwringing about a supposed cultural assault on masculinity awaits, no doubt.”

:: While The Guardian compares it to that other UK singer: “You can’t really blame all concerned for attempting to replicate it with Writing’s on the Wall. It’s sung by Sam Smith – like Adele – a British vocalist who’s stormed America with an album mired in heartbreak. Writing’s on the Wall is a ballad heavy on the leaps from solo piano accompaniment to dramatic strings – as on Skyfall, there’s a particularly big surge after the mention of the title – and replete with echoes of Monty Norman. It certainly demonstrates there’s more to co-producers Disclosure than dance music.”

:: Our friends at Stereogum shared this: “Smith’s song is called “Writing’s On The Wall,” and it’s a big, tense, string-laden cinematic ballad, exactly as grandly meaningless as you’d want a Bond theme to be. Smith co-wrote it with regular collaborator Jimmy Napes. And even though Disclosure contributed production, the song completely avoids the dance elements that made Madonna’s Die Another Day theme such an absolute shitshow.”

:: SPIN also was not a big fan: “Yes, Sam Smith tried to squeeze a love-on-the-rocks song into a Bond theme. This could maybe be forgivable if the song was livelier — and the full-orchestra lift of the song is appropriately rousing and portentous — but it goes inexplicably meek on the chorus, as Smith wails in falsetto over lightly plinked piano and virtually nothing else. There’s no beat for the entire song; you can’t help but feel a little bad for the anonymous spy-flick models who will have to writhe in silhouette over no rhythm whatsoever for the Spectre credit sequence. Whole thing’s kind of a drag, really.”

:: The Telegraph had this to say: “Indeed, it is paced more like an old Hitchcock film than the helter-skelter adrenaline rush of James Bond movies. The song ticks by in a mood of building tension, emerging in shadows and ripples, and the big, dramatic reveal turns out not to be a pyrotechnic blast but the sheer emotional rush of Smith’s falsetto.”

:: While Slate broke it down: “The song opens with lush orchestral strings and a stirring piano melody reminiscent of Adele’s hit from Skyfall; Smith’s light vocals layer well over the stirring accompaniment. It builds and builds until about a minute in and then the violins swell and then…nothing. Smith’s chorus, ‘if I risk it all, could you break my fall?’ is forgettable, and the rest of the song continues in the same semi-lackluster vein. It’s lovely, but it lacks the rumbling intensity of its predecessor (although needless to say, ‘Skyfall’ is a tough act to follow).”

:: Finally, HitFix wrapped with this gem: “It appears that ‘Skyfall‘ has set a dangerous precedent. Though there’s usually an austere feel to Bond themes, they’re rarely as drama-free and mournful as what we’re hearing now. Honestly, I’ve already forgotten what ‘Writing’s on the Wall’ sounds like. Smith was dishing out his familiar Winnie-the-Pooh-is-lonely-and-crying vocals, and the instrumentation sounds like a De Beers ad. And that was it. As far as I remember.”

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