Considering that it doesn't come out for another few months (Nov. 6, to be exact) Spectre 's theme song by Sam Smith being released in September probably has me a little too excited. There's only so long that I can stay at the edge of my seat and holding my breath before I need to use that energy getting manic over something James Bond-related, so "The Writing's On The Wall" and it's Bond-ish lyrics are the perfect thing for me right now. Or else a very unhealthy obsession that I'm going to be playing on repeat for the next month and a half. Or maybe both. Who knows.
Anyway, the song is out, and I love it, which isn't that surprising, because thinking back, I can't really recall one of these Bond film soundtracks that I haven't adored, at least in the Daniel Craig era. But of course, if we're being honest with ourselves, the gold standard was set by Adele with "Skyfall," so if we're going to be making comparisons, it has to be with that one, right? Might as well set the bar at the song that won our Queen her Oscar. So let's take a look at these two tracks side by side, and see how Sam Smith really stacks up with Adele. Here's Smith's "Writing's On The Wall First."
Oh whoops, what are all these goosebumps all over my body? Delicious. And then follow that up with Adele's "Skyfall," from all the way back in 2012.
Woof. Oh boy does that hold up. Immediately, the first thing I notice is the very similar tone between the two songs. Whoever's in charge of making sure that from movie to movie, track to track, and artist to artist, that the vibe is the same is doing a great job. There's this soaring quality that they share, like these songs should be the backdrop for an establishing shot over a sprawling city, or a silhouette in black and white walking through smoke. They both transition really beautifully between big huge swooping sound down to intimate, heartbreaking little notes, which is I think where the goosebumps come in. Both "Skyfall" and "Writing's On The Wall" get that going for me.
Of the two, "Writing's On The Wall" feels more vulnerable to me, as there's a distance to "Skyfall" as if the singer knows more than the subject of the song, whereas Smith seems to be both. He's being tormented by the forces he's singing about, whereas Adele seems to have a little more control and power over her surroundings. Adele's sound is ominous, like a gathering storm, while "Writing's on the Wall" feels more like being outside in the rain after you've lost everything, like the two would appear at different points in the plot: "Skyfall" at the climax, and "Writing's On The Wall" at the denouement, when everything's revealed to have slipped away:
If I risk it allCould you break my fall?How do I live? How do I breathe?When you're not here I'm suffocatingI want to feel love, run through my bloodTell me is this where I give it all up?For you I have to risk it allCause the writing's on the wall
I think I prefer "Writings On The Wall," which is not the direction I was expecting to go, but no matter which is your favorite, I'm betting this song has you more excited than ever for the movie itself, which means it did its job perfectly.