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The announcement of a new James Bond film means one of two things. One, Matt is going to geek out for the foreseeable future about anything and everything Bond related. Second, it means we’re going to get a new Bond theme song, which I look forward to almost as much, if not more, than the actual films. There’s just something iconic about the franchise where each new theme song has its own personality, identity, and can sometimes even be far superior than the movie its based on. In the case of the upcoming No Time To Die, I had been waiting for months before MGM announced that up and coming artist Billie Ellish was going to be performing the main theme, joining the ranks of artists like Adele, Shirley Bassey, Paul McCartney, and even Duran Duran in artists that did opening themes for the franchise.
I’ll be honest, I’m not on the up and up on today’s music to the point where I almost never listen to modern pop music. I can say that I’ve heard of artists like Billie Ellish, Lizzo, and Lil Nas X, but I couldn’t tell you thing one about any of their songs. I’m firmly planted in the prog rock and metal camp and my recent jams have included the glorious Brothers of Metal and their Norse inspired power metal and Gorillaz’s recent single “Momentary Bliss,” which is smooth and funky in all of the good ways. But what are my thoughts on Billie’s latest theme for the franchise? It’s good. Not great, but just good.
From the beginning, there’s a sense of finality to “No Time To Die” and its bleakness is almost pervasive. It feels like a summation of everything that the Daniel Craig movies have been leading up to and the addition of the main Bond theme into the song is a nice touch. It feels grand and gives me the sensation that everything is on the line with this one and no matter how it ends, it feels like an ending. Ellish’s voice is wonderful and she’s able to make the lyrics stand out from the simple orchestration. And yet, I feel like the song never really gets going.
Compared to “Skyfall” and “Writing on the Wall,” “No Time To Die” just doesn’t have the power behind it. Maybe this is due to Billie Ellish’s style, which I totally get, but for a conclusion to a five-film story, I feel like it should muster more feelings and emotions than it does. It feels like a funeral dirge, which may be the point, but it stays on the same tone for four minutes straight without any variation. Just when you think it’s going to pick up and energize itself, it pulls itself back and we’re right back to a somber ballad. Regardless of the intended message, I can only listen to a monotonous tone for so long before it starts to bore me. It’s fine, but it’s not the kind of song I’m going to listen to on repeat for hours in the dead of night, something that I’ve done with every Bond theme song in the past few years.
No Time To Die releases on April 10, 2020.