Monday, September 14, 2015

Die Another Day (2002) | Music

Garbage's theme to The World Is Not Enough was great, but it wasn't a huge hit in the US, so MGM wanted a high-profile artist to sing the title song for Die Another Day. And it doesn't get much more high-profile than Madonna. She was given autonomy to create the song herself, so she wrote it with Mirwais Ahmadzaï, her collaborator of a couple of years at that point. Ahmadzaï had co-written "Music" (among other songs) with her and "Die Another Day" has the same techno sound she was using at the time.

Most fans I've talked to call it the worst of the Bond songs, but I disagree. I'd argue that it's not even the worst Brosnan song (Sheryl Crow's "Tomorrow Never Dies"), but I really don't understand why anyone would rank "All Time High" or even "Licence to Kill" and "Moonraker" above it. It's weird and different - and yeah, that "analyze this" line is super annoying - but it's at least trying something new as opposed to many of the later Moore themes.

It's also not one of my favorites though. It seems to be about Bond's mindset during his fourteen months of torture as he's trying to survive and resist the tearing down of his will. But the lyrics are extremely poetic and - unlike "View to a Kill," which is also abstruse - I'm not fond enough of the music for it to distract me from the words.

Still, it's a catchy enough tune and the strings are awesome, so while I don't love it, I like it better than many. Could've done without the remix over the closing credits though. It would have been nice to hear something by David Arnold for that.

Daniel Kleinman makes great use of the song for the credits sequence. There's a little tapping part at the beginning and Kleinman has animated scorpion tails rising into place in time with the music. The scorpions of course are part of Bond's torture, because Kleinman is using the credits as an actual part of the story. The teaser ends with Bond's capture and torture, so the credits are basically a musical montage to illustrate what Bond's going through. The ice water that Bond's face was plunged into during the teaser becomes ice women, and as the credits progress we also see women made of fire and electricity to represent hot pokers and shock treatment. Kleinman also inserts images of Bond's being beaten. And there's some diamond imagery, too, since that's what the villains are into.

The only thing I don't like is the use of female bodies to represent the methods of torture. Thematically, that doesn't work. It's been established - especially in the Brosnan films - that Bond uses women to overcome suffering. They don't really work as a metaphor for pain. It just seems like Kleinman's throwing dancing women into the credits because that's what's expected. Except for that, the credits are bold and really strong.

David Arnold is still getting plenty of use out of the Bond Theme. It plays during the hovercraft chase, when Bond's reinstated as a Double-O, when he's parasurfing a tidal wave, and as he and Jinx escape Grave's ruined cargo plane in a helicopter. There's even a cool, Latin version of the Bond Theme playing when he arrives at his hotel in Cuba.

Top Ten Theme Songs

1. A View to a Kill
2. "Surrender" (end credits of Tomorrow Never Dies)
3. The Living Daylights
4. The Spy Who Loved Me ("Nobody Does It Better")
5. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
6. Diamonds Are Forever
7. You Only Live Twice
8. From Russia With Love (instrumental version)
9. The World Is Not Enough
10. Live and Let Die

Top Ten Title Sequences

1. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
2. Dr No
3. Thunderball
4. Goldfinger
5. GoldenEye
6. From Russia with Love
7. The Spy Who Loved Me
8. Die Another Day
9. Tomorrow Never Dies
10. Diamonds Are Forever

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