We know who will direct and who is returning to star, but the sound of James Bond may be just as important.
Everyone has their own idea of what James Bond should sound like. Some cling on to the big band sound of John Barry, others like the more modernist style of Thomas Newman, and there’s at least one person out there who thinks it should be Junkie XL. But now the twenty-fifth picture starring Ian Fleming‘s superspy has a director in the guise of Danny Boyle, speculation can run rampant as to every aspect of the production, especially the music. So who’ll score Episode XXV? Grab a table at the Casino Royale and get ready to place your bets!
While for obvious reasons John Barry can’t return to the series, the heir apparent for a while has been British composer David Arnold. Arnold’s pedigree is clear – he knows 007. In his previous stint that began with Tomorrow Never Dies and ended with Quantum of Solace, he was able to consistently bring quality music to the series, especially without the pesky issue of whether or not the film was actually good interfering, and he also has his own style while still able to go all Barry when needed (see the finale of Casino Royale). I’m sure Arnold would jump at the chance to return, and with all concerned wanting to make this a good send off for Daniel Craig, bringing back a fan favorite may just do the trick. The lad can do a cracking gun barrel cue, too.
2015 wasn’t a particularly good year for Bond. While Spectre made $800m at the box office, it still wasn’t good enough to defeat Minions, let alone Avengers or Star Wars. Adding insult to injury, it wasn’t even the best spy movie that year; that honor went to Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. One aspect of Rogue Nation that quite decidedly kicked Bond’s British behind was the music by Joe Kraemer, who had impressed previously with the thoughtful score to another Tom Cruise vehicle, Jack Reacher. Rogue Nation‘s score proved three things useful for 007: Kraemer is adept at creating his own themes, he can write terrific action music, and he’s great at using pre-existing music. The latter is important for obvious reasons, with Kraemer not only giving the Lalo Schifrin Mission: Impossible theme its best rendition since 1996 but also weaving in Puccini’s ‘Nessun Dorma’ from the great opera Turandot. Giving the Bond theme a new coat of paint would be mission walk in the park.
“Pembs”, as he’s known, has made a big splash in recent years with both conventional and unconventional scores for films like Steve Jobs, All The Money In The World, and King Arthur (with Oceans 8 on the way), and after working with directors like Ridley Scott and Stephen Gaghan he’s rated as one of the best new composers around. He also out-Bonded Bond in Guy Ritchie‘s adaptation of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., where he mixed traditional European instruments with the usual orchestra and gave us one of the best action scores of recent years. And with Steve Jobs he worked under a certain Danny Boyle, getting a much-deserved Golden Globe nomination for his trouble. He just might be the breath of fresh air Boyle is looking for.
Yeah okay. Hear me out. This may seem like a fan-baiting suggestion but I honestly think Mica Levi could do something interesting for Bond. I don’t mean going all Under The Skin – that score was amazing but Bond has never been that bleak, not even when Madonna did the title song – but something along the lines of her more traditional and very broody (and brilliant) score for Jackie could, along with her pop sensibilities, result in a new approach. She could also sing the title song as well, not only giving the score further musical continuity but also making sure everyone forgets about the truly dreadful ‘Writing’s On The Wall.’ Young minds, fresh ideas. Be tolerant. And no naked Bond cavorting with a CG octopus.
Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury
English pair Barrow and Salisbury have made quite a name for themselves in recent times, scoring movies such as Ex Machina and Annihilation and using them as an excuse to breed curious hybrids of electronic and acoustic elements. They’re also amazing at sliding into other musical personas as they did with DROKK! Music Inspired by Mega-City One, which was a great record that came out of the ashes of their music for Dredd (which was replaced by a much more generic and unexciting score in the final film) and was performed on vintage synths, making it the best soundtrack John Carpenter never did. Barrow is also a member of the band Portishead, who themselves were influenced by the scores of Barry and Schifrin in their laconic musical approach (even sampling a Schifrin cue in their legendary cut ‘Sour Times’), so you couldn’t ask for a better fit.
More low-key than the other suggestions most of the time, Steven Soderbergh‘s main squeeze would nevertheless be a fantastic choice for Bond, mirroring David Arnold’s fondness for electronics with a bit more of an edge to them. Interestingly, Martinez has only just done his first action movie with The Foreigner but has scored a fair amount of films with killing in them, such as Soderbergh’s Traffic and Nicolas Winding Refn‘s Drive, with the latter probably the score he’s known for the most ( although his best is 2002’s Solaris). No matter what he does, his music always sounds dangerous, probably why they’ve been adopted so much by the EDM scene as well as the producers of Game Night. His scores are also pretty lean, and his intense and evocative style could really benefit Bond. It’d also help if Her Majesty’s finest smashes someone’s head open in an elevator. Just saying.