Sam Smith released "Writing's on the Wall" early Friday morning, the 24th official Bond theme for next month's Spectre. Bond fans have been speculating all summer about possible vocalists being considered for the coveted honor, and Smith seemed to have intentionally misled fans during a radio interview back in July, when he coyly pretended he was in the dark about plans for recording the theme for the next installment of the legendary Bond series.
Smith originally suggested fellow Brit Ellie Goulding was the chosen one, but a look back at the history of Bond themes suggests a pattern for exposed competition. K.D. Lang's original Bond theme for 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies was ultimately relegated to the end credits for Sheryl Crow's version; Alice Cooper supposedly took a swing at "The Man with the Golden Gun" before it ended up in Lulu's hands; Blondie was originally in line for what ended up as Sheena Easton's "For Your Eyes Only"; Shirley Bassey would've had a fourth Bond theme under her belt if they hadn't sacked her for a Dionne Warwick's version of "Thunderball," which eventually ended up in Tom Jones's hands for the final film.
Smith is actually the first male British solo act to perform a Bond theme in the 50 years since Jones. The "Stay With Me" singer delivers a grand accomplishment of both entertaining the romantic danger of Bond while staying true to his hallmark simplicity, elegance, and strength of the iconic spy. His subtle orchestral cheer team is present, yet instead of the familiar heart broken Sam we're used to, he takes command as if he's suddenly Bond manifest; he's simultaneously growing and remaining the same.
"I tried to put myself in the shoes of Bond," Smith told NPR of the track. "My music is a diary and it's a recap of my life, and I wanted to bring that kind of honesty. In the lyrics... I wanted a touch of vulnerability from Bond, where you see into his heart a little bit."
However delicately, "Writing's on the Wall" follows in the steps of Adele's "Skyfall" — it still has the exact same bone structure. But it's sure to be a totem in his yet nascent career, if for nothing other than it's flirtatious strength. He makes us want to walk through fire, whether it's the girl or the Aston Martin you're after.