Sunday, April 18, 2010

Song(s) for the Day: Shaken, Not Stirred

Think back, if you will, to 1997, when Bond meant Brosnan instead of brooding Craig, brunette instead of blonde, chest hair galore instead of shiny smooth muscles emerging from the sea, and when theme songs were almost as enjoyable (and popular) as the films they accompanied. Tomorrow Never Dies, the second and arguably best of the iffy Bond foursome starring Scottish stud Pierce Brosnan, arrived two years after Goldeneye brought a new Bond to fruition, future X-Men star Famke Janssen (and her killer thighs) into the limelight, and the great Tina Turner title track (written by Bono and the Edge of U2), but it didn't exactly have a great deal to live up to. Still, it was an enjoyable romp, with such delights as an Asian Bond Girl (Michelle Yeoh) whose powers for once extended beyond being named "Pussy Galore;" a kickass submarine finale; Jonathan Pryce (fresh off Evita) as one of the better Bond villains not armed with a white cat; the brief scenes featuring Teri Hatcher that culminated in her being bumped off a third of the way in; and so forth.

Another gift Tomorrow Never Dies gave was addressed to the music world, and herein lies an interesting, if brief and familiar, story. David Arnold, who penned the score for the seventeenth Bond film (having been hand-picked by boss-lady Barbara Broccoli), also put his hand to writing a theme song, a theme which also would crop up several times during the film - because, after all, isn't that what a theme song really SHOULD do? But I digress. Said song, originally titled (wait for it) "Tomorrow Never Dies," was recorded by lowercase-loving songstress k.d. lang, at her sultriest and most sensual throughout. But after Tina Turner, someone decided that the new theme song should be selected through a competitive process, and a total of twelve songs were submitted from a variety of artists, including Arnold and lang's. In the end, though, it was Sheryl Crow's entry that won the day, although Arnold and lang's tune was given the opening end credits slot and renamed "Surrender," only the fourth time a Bond film would have a different opening and closing theme song.

When I first saw the film I was no Sheryl Crow devotee (nor am I still, although that is not to say I view her in any negative light), and I felt strongly that "Surrender" was a far more appropriate Bond song in general and in terms of the particular film itself. Over time, I've learned to appreciate both for their own merits (it is certainly one of Crow's most exciting songs), and now I'm not sure I have, or need, a preference.

Which, if any, do you prefer, I wonder?

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