Sunday, July 12, 2015

Never Say Never Again (1983) | Music

The music for Never Say Never Again is where we'll have to depart from the usual template for talking about these movies. Without John Barry, but especially without the rights to the Bond Theme, the music is what feels most off. And of course there's no opening title sequence; just credits over the first scene.

The score was created by prolific and award-winning composer Michel Legrand, who won three Oscars for music from Summer of '42, Yentl, and The Thomas Crown Affair. The Oscar for Thomas Crown was for Best Song: "The Windmills of Your Mind," which he wrote with Alan and Marilyn Bergman. And it was the Bergmans that he teamed up with again to write the theme song for NSNA.

Unfortunately, the song is crap. It's even lousy from a simple production standpoint. The opening horns are all warbly and for years I would watch the movie on VHS and think the tracking was screwed up or something.

It's performed by Herb Alpert's wife, Lani Hall, who took the gig after Bonnie Tyler turned it down. Tyler was having a career resurgence around that time with "Total Eclipse of the Heart," so she would have been a nice, high-profile artist to record the song, but she didn't like it. Hall's got a fine voice, but its not that interesting and "Never Say Never Again" just blends in with the other disposable easy listening ballads by women that had defined the Bond theme songs since The Spy Who Loved Me. "Nobody Does It Better" is a great - and great sounding - song, but I hate that that style dominated the series for so long.

The lyrics of "Never Say Never Again" are lame too, sung from the point of view of a woman who's just met an attractive, but emotionally unavailable man and is vowing to fix him. He's been hurt and has declared that he will love "never again," but she's going to beg him, get him, reach him, teach him, take him, and make him change his tune. I just wish we could change this one, too.

Top Ten Theme Songs

1. The Spy Who Loved Me ("Nobody Does It Better")
2. On Her Majesty's Secret Service instrumental theme
3. Diamonds Are Forever
4. You Only Live Twice
5. From Russia With Love (John Barry instrumental version)
6. Live and Let Die
7. Dr No
8. Thunderball
9. Goldfinger
10. From Russia With Love (Matt Monro vocal version)

Top Ten Title Sequences

1. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
2. Dr No
3. Thunderball
4. Goldfinger
5. From Russia with Love
6. The Spy Who Loved Me
7. Diamonds Are Forever
8. Live and Let Die
9. Moonraker
10. Octopussy

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