08 October 2002

being granted the right to perform a bond theme is an honor, a recognition of either where one is at in the industry (a-ha) or how far one has come (tina turner). then, of course, there's the strange case of matt monro. but i digress.

with this boon, there is the weight of expectation and legacy. since bond has been ceded a gradually lower profile, catering to a niche market, the former is easily borne; the latter is arguably as strong as ever, with the redoubtable ghosts of john barry and shirley bassey ever-present. most artists commit self-abnegation, surrendering their particular styles and checking their egos at the door -- iggy pop, for chrissakes, on the shaken and stirred comp, mews a respectful "we have all the time in the world." a small few, though, have made bond their bitch. so to speak.

paul mccartney was the first artist to pen his own bond theme, but the overlapping of styles -- the pomp, the circumstance -- between bond and wings makes this a negligible case. next, then, were duran duran, who flung both bond and his heritage into the fire and forced him to dance therein. the end result: a #1 pop single. "view to a kill" sounds like contemporaneous duran duran material, and even the sampled horns from the 007 theme reinforce that. maybe this is why i'm reminded of duran duran when i hear madonna's "die another day."

like the duranis, madonna makes bond bend -- or dance, even -- to her rules. "i'm gonna break the cycle, i'm gonna shake up the system," she says and that she does. david arnold, current bond composer, is electro-friendly but it's hard to imagine that anyone but madonna and (i'm guessing) mirwais had a hand in this single. pizzicato strings swoop in and out of the track, blissfully unaware of the beat's fluctuating rhythms, of the stop-and-start patterns of the track. james bond is reimagined as a club maven, living in williamsburg, listening to tiga, and the change does him good. the change will assuredly do the bond theme good: "die another day" is the first single since, yes, "view to a kill" to trouble the pop charts. meanwhile, madonna, known for her penchant for frequent reinvention, wisely stays the electronic course and comes up with her best single in ages.

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