Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Living Daylights (1987) | Music

Inspired by the success of Duran Duran's theme for A View to a Kill, the producers chose another hot-right-then New Wave band to record the theme for The Living Daylights. Rumor has it that the Pet Shop Boys were also approached, but turned it down because they wouldn't get to do the whole score. The Pretenders were also considered, but a-ha was more popular at the time, so the Pretenders instead created a couple of extra songs for use later in the move. "Where Has Everybody Gone" is Necros' favorite and gets adapted into the score as a dangerous action theme, while "If There Was a Man" is played over the closing credits and is adapted as a love theme for Bond and Kara.

John Barry famously didn't get along with a-ha during their collaboration, though - like Duran Duran - the band admitted to appreciating his input. I have no idea how their conversations went, but if I had to pick a side, I'd be planting my flag with a-ha. That's even though I like Barry's movie mix of the song better than the band's (which appeared on their album, Stay On These Roads). I was a huge fan of those guys in the '80s and still am. They have a reputation of being a one-hit wonder thanks to the enormous success of "Take On Me," but people are forgetting not only "The Living Daylights," but "The Sun Always Shines on TV" and "Cry Wolf," which both got a lot of radio time in the US. The band did even better in Europe and went on to release seven more albums after The Living Daylights, with an eighth coming out this September. If you've ever liked a-ha, all their stuff is worth checking out, especially Minor Earth Major Sky from 2000.

I could seriously go on and on about a-ha, but I'll just leave it at "I love this band" and "I love this song." Morten Harket's falsetto is amazing as always and though the lyrics make even less sense than "View to a Kill," they sound vaguely dangerous and paranoid and set a cool tone for the film. The song was a great follow up to Duran Duran and raised my hopes quite a bit for the future of James Bond themes.

Too bad the credits aren't as great. They're not awful, but I'm bored with Maurice Binder's style by now. The Living Daylights credits are more photography, mostly of the usual acrobatics or women lounging in swimwear with softly rippling water. Not that water or swimwear have anything to do with the movie. They don't even have anything to do with the song, though that's where Binder gets a lot of the credits' imagery. Like when Harket sings, "Comes the morning and the headlights fade away," Binder shows a headlight... you know... fading away.

As usual for a Barry score, the James Bond Theme isn't used enough in The Living Daylights, but it's in play more than he often lets it be. He's actually created a cool, snappy version of it and plays extended bits of it during the cold open and again during the Aston Martin chase. But he relies really heavily on the adaptations of the Pretenders songs and even a-ha's (during the rooftop chase in Tangiers and the airplane escape from the Soviet base).

Top Ten Theme Songs

1. A View to a Kill
2. The Living Daylights
3. The Spy Who Loved Me ("Nobody Does It Better")
4. On Her Majesty's Secret Service instrumental theme
5. Diamonds Are Forever
6. You Only Live Twice
7. From Russia With Love (instrumental version)
8. Live and Let Die
9. Dr No
10. Thunderball

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


Sleestak said...

i sometimes imagine what franchise would be like if dalton or brosnan took over from moore earlier than they did

Michael May said...

Interesting thought. If Dalton had started earlier, we would have gotten a couple of more films from him before the studio ran into money problems. That could have gotten audiences used to the more serious Bond so that when Brosnan took over the tone wasn't so conflicted. A big problem with the Brosnan films is that they can't decide if they want to be Moore or Dalton, so they flip-flop; even within the same movie.


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