Monday, November 5, 2012

7 Days 'Til 007: "Surrender"

Not to be confused with 'Surrender' by Cheap Trick.
Each weekday until November 9, enjoy a post about a standout vocal theme or instrumental piece from the official Bond movies.

Originally written for the Tomorrow Never Dies opening titles and filled with references to the film's Rupert Murdoch-inspired plot about media empire mindfuckery (but replaced in the opening titles with Sheryl Crow's not-as-great "Tomorrow Never Dies," which doesn't acknowledge the film's plot at all, so what's the point of having it in the opening titles?), "Surrender" is David Arnold's finest moment as a 007 film composer and perhaps k.d. lang's finest moment as a singer.

Tomorrow Never Dies' closing credits theme remains the best Bond song since Duran Duran's "A View to a Kill" (Arnold co-composed it with singer David McAlmont, who performed a solid cover of "Diamonds Are Forever" for Arnold's Shaken and Stirred, an album of Bond song covers that landed Arnold the gig as Tomorrow Never Dies composer). "Surrender" has everything that lesser '80s and '90s Bond opening title themes like "All Time High" lack, particularly playfulness (songwriter Don Black wrote it from the point of view of Jonathan Pryce's villain character Carver, who threatens Bond with lyrics like "The news is that I am in control") and an appreciation for the film series' musical past, the biggest thing that was missing from Madonna's much-maligned "Die Another Day."

I wouldn't consider the Madonna track an epic fail, but it wasn't the best choice for the 2002 film's clever, Daniel Kleinman-designed opening titles because it doesn't tie into the film it was written for and the series as a whole as effectively as "Surrender" does. "Die Another Day" would have been better suited for some other action franchise that's not 007. By the way, I hate it when Bond nerds bash "Die Another Day" producer Mirwais, who composed the awesome "Disco Science," and call him a hack (just like how fans of Richard Donner's 1978 Superman movie lamely hurl the words "incompetent" and "hack" at Richard Lester, who was a bad choice to direct the Superman sequels because of his contempt for the source material, but outside of Superman, Lester's a way more interesting filmmaker than Donner, simply because of A Hard Day's Night, The Knack... And How to Get It and Juggernaut).

During "Surrender," lang channeled Shirley Bassey but brought her own stamp to the vocals. She deserves to sing another Bond theme. Hell, let lang sing two more like the Broccolis did with Bassey.

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