Who Score’s on 007 Skyfall?

Germain Lussier writes for /Film about the replacement of David Arnold on the 23rd Bond film Skyfall:
“To be honest, I couldn’t pick one of Arnold’s Bond scores from the other (I’m more of fan of his Roland Emmerich collaborations) and, usually, most of the Bond music news is attached to the pop star who sings the opening credits song. Arnold’s a fine composer, but it almost feels lazy that he kept getting asked back when each director is so radically different.”

Read the full article here: http://www.slashfilm.com/thomas-newman-scoring-skyfall-sam-mendes/

As a huge fan of the James Bond franchise – and someone who truly enjoys the wide variety of scores to the 007 films, I couldn’t diagree more!

David Arnold is the only composer who has comfortably succeeded John Barry. Many have tried – Eric Serra, Michael Kamen – but none have managed to balance new scores with traditional James Bond themes as successfully as Barry until David Arnold came along.

For example, Tomorrow Never Dies, manage to introduce a solid pace with modern electronic music without ignoring the iconic theme – Arnold even managed to get Moby involved to created his own version of the 007 theme. The World is not Enough and Die Another Day proceeded to get more electronic and technological. You simply have to compare the electronic percussion on the track ‘Whiteout’ for Die Another Day to the ‘Hamburg Break Out’ in Tomorrow Never Dies to see how, initially a contemporary use of technology then became more a excessive use of equipment.

Thank God, David Arnold completely changed his palette when working on Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. The sound effects are no more and Arnold ensures that, in the same way as the films have ‘gone back to their roots’, the music has too. ‘Night at the Opera’ on the Quantum of Solace score harks right back to the track ‘Capsule in Space’ from You Only Live Twice showing the direct influence of John Barry.

More evidence? The Proms at The Royal Albert Hall this year had a performance whereby themes by Barry and Arnold were performed. You can see the direct influence and correlation between the two composers – my own post covering the Proms has a video included showing the memorable performance.

In closing, it is worth noting that I do love Thomas Newman. I often listen to his scores for American, Beauty (check out my Incredible Soundtracks post), Wall-E and Finding Nemo. And, in fairness, between From Russia with Love and John Barry’s final score The Living Daylights, the odd film had a different composer, only for Barry to return to the franchise in the next film. Composers as diverse as Marvin Hamlisch on The Spy Who Loved Me, George Martin on Live and Let Die and Bill Conti on For Your Eyes Only.

I have a feeling that most composers want to “do” a James Bond film and this was Newman’s chance. I doubt Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are foolish enough to destroy their connection to David Arnold. If this Sam Mendes ‘vision’ doesn’t wholly work, I’m sure David Arnold will be back on board for the 24th film. Or at least, I hope he is back.

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  1. I agree with you. Despite stories that David Arnold is too busy with the Olympics, I'm concerned Newman has been asked to do this film at the request of Mendes, as he scores all his films (in the same way as Spielberg/John Williams and Burton/Elfman always go together). There is also no comment about it from Arnold on his very busy Twitter feed. I like Thomas Newman's sound, but I'm not convinced it's right for Bond. We'll have to see.

  2. Thanks Jonathan for the comment! The thing is, Marvin Hamlischs' score for THE SPY WHO LOVED ME was indeed brilliant and George Martin managed to snag Paul McCartney to create potentially one of the best themes. Eric Serra seemed to just rip off what he used in LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL (even singing the same song in the end credits!!!). I did tweet this to Arnold, but alas, he was more keen to tell everyone about Sherlock. I think Newman is a good composer so I'm willing to see what happens…

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