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The Song Remains Horrendous: "Another Way To Die"

Title Song Review

By Ian Dunross
October 7, 2008

Yo' man, whas goin' down?! We chillin' at the tune, we gonna busta cap in yo ass. Cuz he the slick trigger finger of the Feds, he da bomb, my homey in the hood.


Eminem, P Diddy, and of course the poet laureate himself, Snoop Dogg, could have penned such lines. But it was me, your humble Bond commentator, attempting to utter the lingo-of-the-day as I scowled at my reflection in the mirror after listening to "Another Way To Die," the title song for the 22nd James Bond film, Quantum Of Solace. If the goal of the Bond makers is to make listeners feel hip and edgy, then they succeeded with me. That moment, sadly, was the closest I'll ever be at appearing "hip," or as the badass who no one wants to mess with. The song, on the other hand, lives on, expressing its alleged coolness factor but fulfilling its status as the worst Bond song ever. For those of you who were nauseated by this pulsing, tuneless abomination, allow me to offer a quantum of solace: it's not the most stupidest piece of music ever recorded. Not at all. In context to world history, this 007 song is perhaps the stupidest thing that could possibly be concocted by humans. Well, all right, perhaps there was in ancient history an even more stupid thing scribbled on papyrus scroll; but we'll leave that to the antiquities experts to uncover and decipher.

But James Bond as homeboy—that is the notion the filmmakers seem to be pursuing with this song. In other words, to make the series more palatable to those who wear gigantic pants and the bills of their baseball caps backward. Written by Jack White and Alicia Keys, "Another Way To Die" plods along in a lifeless tempo. Its main structure, consisting of three chords (Bmin, G, E) defined by deep bass notes that strike the chord progression, is layered with noises—a faint string section, piano notes that intrude here and there, vocals that sound like they were muffled in a pipe, and a horn section that attempts to link the song back to the brassy "Bond sound" that John Barry started with Goldfinger. But, strangely, the horns in this song inexplicably offer the flavor of Mariachi music.

Homeboy 007.

What you take away from the bizarre chorus is that "A man on your side / Someone that you think that you can trust is just / Another way to die." Put another way, it is suicidal to trust anyone because a person who we think we can trust will actually kill us—hence, social interaction is "another way to die." If so, I'd say we're all hosed because it's impossible to move through this world without any form of human trust. And what are we suppose to do about it, anyway? Should we seek only ruthless people who we don't trust? But this would only lead us to complications such as betrayal and treachery, and I'd say with certainty that I would get myself killed by a shady character I've stupidly attempted to befriend. Another possible solution: should we renounce all social relations and move to the tundra? But if the tundra becomes over-populated, I would be forced to avoid contact with anyone because, as the song implies, there is no one to trust; yet I don't have the resources to keep moving and start a new life in some other desolate region of the world. Moreover, the tundra raises a problem for someone who happens to be an edgy hip-hop gangsta rapper—would that image be applicable in the barren, frozen land of the north? What I mean is, when you've renounced all social relations, there is no one to scare with your menacing demeanor—unless, of course, you plan to intimidate Arctic foxes and polar bears, which is another form of suicide, "another way to die."

The song finishes with an irritating guitar riff, which serves as the dominant musical theme, while Alicia Keys belts out, "Ayyy, Ayyy!" That is a long A, as in Aaaaaay, an expression she might have used were she being thrown off a cliff. Then again, her zeal could be a cryptic expression for "Aaaaaa thousand listening sessions of The Best Of Lawrence Welk CD would not erase this horrid tuneless mess from my memory." Or perhaps it's her expression for "Aaaaaa whole bunch of people at Eon are so tone deaf that Jack White and I could actually produce a song without a tune and still get paid!" No matter the true meaning, it is a compelling intellectual argument. But at the end of the debate, we're still left with the most uninspired song in the Bond series.

List of Illustrations

"The Homeboys." Online Image. Urban Corner. 12 Sept. 2008
"Homeboy 007." Online Image. The Sunday Morning Herald. 27 Sept. 2008.