I have been reading many negative reviews from people inside the Bond fan community about Thomas Newman's score for 'Skyfall'. This part from http://www.examiner.com/review/soundtrack-review-thomas-newman-falls-a-few-clouds-short-with-skyfall
basically sums it up: "While mainstream press continues to tout the “Skyfall” soundtrack as one of the best in Bond history, I unfortunately believe the exact opposite.
" Call me the more 'mainstream movie music lover' then.
It's interesting to read reviews from those who don't like John Barry-esque romance, but tend to favour 'easy-to-listen' action music and easy-recognizable Bond themes (http://www.soundtrackgeek.com/v2/soundtrack-review-skyfall/
, but I'm not that kind of man. 'Skyfall' is so much more than just another Bond film. So is its music.
Actually, I am among those who find 'Skyfall' truly exquisit. Yes, I am a Bond fan, but foremost I am a movie lover and music lover in general. Having said that I think Thomas Newman's score for 'Skyfall' has been the most effective Bond music ride since the late 1980's (John Barry's 'The Living Daylights', Michael Kamen's 'Licence To Kill').
Down below I will give my own set of arguments why I think Thomas Newman's take on the music for Bond has been the best in decades....and why I think Thomas Newman must return for the 24th official Bond adventure:
--> Better, richer recorded sound
: Is it because of the way 'Skyfall' was recorded by Newman's colleague Simon Rhodes? Or is it because Newman simply used more people/more instruments in his orchestra set-up compared to David Arnold? Fact is, when I listen to Newman's score, it sounds both richer and 'deeper' compared to Arnold's scores.
--> Use of strings in orchestra
: It's fairly obvious to me that Newman is doing much more with strings (violins
) than we have heard ever since John Barry's 'The Living Daylights'. Is it because Newman's also uses 'electronical strings' besides the 'normal' violinists?
--> Up-tempo use of strings
: Listen to the track 'Health and Safety
' and 'Tennyson
' for instance. It's quite incredible how Newman uses the double bass
in such a way that they almost seem 'fighting' with other string parts. It creates wunderful tension that I haven't heard in a Bond film in decades. It are these 'deeper layers' that fascinate me.
--> Use of other instruments that have a prominent role
: Think of flutes
, for instance the german flute
, which you can hear at the start of 'Quartermaster
' but also instruments like harps
can be heared at the start of 'Somebody Usually Dies
' and 'Severine
--> Simon Rhodes
: He has always been working with Thomas Newman and is also editing/mixing the original orchestra music with electronical music. Listen to tracks like 'Voluntary Retirement
', 'The Moors
' and 'Quartermaster
'. But the way electronics are used, are in such a subtle, delicate way, that it never sounds overdone in an Arnold kind of way. It is as if orchestra and electronics are perfectly blended together. The electronical percussion parts create the extra tension.
--> Enhancing romantic/dramatic/mysterious scenes
: Perhaps it is, again, due to the rich use of strings, but it surely creates more drama and mystery in tracks like 'Someone Usually Dies
'. Tracks like 'Modigliani
' (shower scene) give an almost Barry-esque romantic quality to the film. Also 'Komodo Dragon
' feels mysterious.
--> Newman is a conductor too
: David Arnold always relied on his buddy Nicholas Dodd. Arnold himself mentioned several times that he is not a conductor. But Dodd's qualities as a conductor are pale compared to what Newman can do. Conducting is pivotal in actually getting all these different layers of music in a smooth way. We haven't had a composerconductor ever since 1987's 'The Living Daylights
' and 1989's 'Licence To Kill
' (Michael Kamen
--> Enhancing the theme of the movie
: I was listening to Mark Kermode's review of 'Skyfall' and he was saying: "Well actually, it may not make strict narrative sense, as in....'would somebody actually do that at that point', but it makes complete thematic sense! That in a way is the key.
". He is right. And I think Thomas Newman is musically enhancing all these political/social themes in the film (use of modern spies, use of intelligence services, hacking, Julian Assange
--> Newman doesn't forget the Bond fans
: Listen to tracks like 'Grand Bazaar/Istanbul
' and 'The Bloody Shot
' (The latter is a bit John Powell-esque
). He skillfully uses Monty Norman's theme. Even more so than David Arnold did in 'Casino Royale
' gives us the James Bond theme in a more traditional way.
--> The score on the whole has a Hans Zimmer-esque grandness
: Listen to tracks like 'Jellyfish
' and 'Brave New World
'. It has a certain Batman-feel to it. It isn't only that. As a music production 'Skyfall' sounds way bigger than David Arnold's attempts.
--> Thomas Newman excells himself
: Let's be honest here, Newman hasn't done true action-packed movies. A few exceptions are 'Jarhead
' and 'The Adjustment Bureau
'. But even those aren't true action-thrillers. No, 'Skyfall' is Newman's first real attempt of composing a score for a truly grand action blockbuster. For me that is something way more difficult than composing action music Bond film after Bond film (David Arnold
). I think that's why Newman received an Oscar nomination for his 'Skyfall' score; the first ever Bond score doing so since Marvin Hamlisch' score of 'The Spy Who Loved Me
--> All the above reasons make me say
: Bring Thomas Newman back. I love his work, not only because he did one Bond film so far, but also because his work outside Bond is as good as the score for 'Skyfall'. So in a way, 'Skyfall' is not just a Bond score, it's more than that. It's a phenomenal movie score on the whole.
: I all had to retype this, which I hate hehe. But well, my memory is okay :-)
. So these were all the arguments that made me say: "Newman, you're 'in' again, Arnold, you're still 'out'.