Commenting on the critics with Simon Columb…
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.“
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 disagree more!
David Arnold is the only composer who has comfortably succeeded John Barry. Many have tried – Eric Serra (Goldeneye), Michael Kamen (Licence to Kill) – 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 managed to introduce a solid pace with modern electronic music without ignoring the iconic theme – Arnold even managed to get Moby involved to create 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’ in Die Another Day to the ‘Hamburg Break Out’ in Tomorrow Never Dies to see how, initially a contemporary use of technology then became more of an excessive use of equipment – a little too far away from the orchestral scores of the past.
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. For example, ‘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.
In closing, it is worth noting that I do love Thomas Newman. I often listen to his scores for American Beauty, 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 (For a real laugh, hunt down Conti’s Rocky-track for 007 title ‘Runaway’).
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.