We’ve arrived at the Decade Without a Name in our tour of Bond songs.
“Die Another Day” – New decade, new genre. Madonna turns this song into a pure dance number. Choppy editing and judicious use of silence, not to mention heavily effected voices and instruments turns this into a unique entry in the series. Some of the nostalgia elements are still there (melodramatic strings and brass stabs), but they’re used to serve the overall song, as opposed to being the point of the song like the previous two entries. “I’m gonna avoid the cliche.” Indeed.
“You Know My Name” – Remember back in 1987 when the last guy sang a Bond song? Time for Chris Cornell to take a shot at it, which nicely underscores the rougher, more manly take on the role brought by Daniel Craig. “Casino Royale” wouldn’t make a particularly evocative title, so we get this not-so-oblique reference to the fact that James Bond’s name recognition keeps this series going on much longer than logic suggests it could. For this song, the Bondian brass section holds an equal place with the driving late 90s style guitars and production. Lyrically, this is very interesting entry in the series because it’s the first to be from Bond’s perspective and shows a little bit of vulnerability: “Arm yourself because no one else here will save you. The odds will betray you…” That’s also a subtle reference to the gambling theme of the film, along with “Try to hide your hand, forget how to feel.” Since this film is a reboot, it makes sense to put a little hesitancy into Bond before he finally realizes that “the coldest blood runs through my veins.”
“Another Way to Die” – For the first time, we get a duet. Jack White (showcasing his chainsaw guitar licks) and Alicia Keys (bringing the first hint of hip-hop to the series) sing a super cynical song about the dangerous life that Bond lives. Instrumentally, the song is reminiscent of “Live and Let Die”, and has that same dangerous quality. Overall the music is interesting, but a little eccentric for me.