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Billie Eilish’s “No Time to Die”

863 words

Eilish. Billie Eilish.

Never afraid to wring every drop of money out of a pop sensation, this is who the film industry is having sing the theme to the new James Bond film, No Time to Die. The media is billing this interestingly; the New York Times covered the song with glowing praise and a mention of Eilish being the youngest person to ever record a Bond theme. The implication is that Eilish is molting out of her indifferent, teenaged shell, and becoming a regular pop icon to be enjoyed by Zoomers and Boomers alike.

This is true from a commercial standpoint. But it’s hardly something to commend. The Billie Eilish story is rare in the sense that she is one of the first precocious young musicians to livetweet her rise to stardom. We can tell that she’s overwhelmed, and we can tell that she’d often rather be doing different things. But the very nature of the pop music industry demands that she continue doing more, more, and more; hence the Bond theme. Drivel about celebrities aside, this young woman continues to make the case for just how absurd the entertainment industry is.

I touched on her debut album earlier, and how it’s mostly inane filler. This Bond theme is a similar exercise in snooze. Johnny Marr features as a guitarist on it — apparently — delivering a barely-discernible guitar riff behind the characteristically bland scoring of “Hans Zimmer,” or more appropriately, “Hans Zimmer’s team of uninspired ghostwriters.” We get a quiet song that a normie would describe as being “orchestral,” one impressive display of range from Eilish, and then Marr is so gracious as to pluck the familiar Bond riff at the end of the spectacle. The track has a smoky, near-unfinished quality to it. The affected introspection and brooding in Eilish’s voice seems more like a farce than any kind of vocal foreshadowing of the doom awaiting 007, as the Times seems to think of it.

It’s possible to make surface-level comparisons between Eilish’s moody aesthetic and the crisp grime of the Bond universe all day long, but it should be apparent to anybody with ears and eyes that Eilish was chosen for this role as part of a thinly-veiled marketing ploy. Young people recognize their idol, their parents want to see another James Bond film anyhow, everyone goes to the theater, and everybody wins. This has been how the Bond theme has operated since it became a tradition. Usually, we at least get some kind of epic pop hit out of the effort; there’s nothing of the sort from Eilish this go-around.

Consider the performance of Adele on “Skyfall,” the electropop revue “Die Another Day” from Madonna, or, if we’re reaching into the past, the quintessentially 1980s “A View to a Kill” from Duran Duran. Bond themes reflect not only the moods of the film they’re composed for but also reflect musical trends that mark the times. None of these tracks are particularly thrilling, but they’re also not completely unforgettable. “No Time to Die” falls short of even these low expectations. It’s a somber half-ballad supported by an aging film scorer and a guitarist from an 80s British band. (Let the record show I love the Smiths, but Marr is simply inappropriate here.) If “No Time to Die” is indicative of the quality of the film, then we had better brace ourselves for one of the least enthralling Bond works yet. The series seems to have taken a bit of a dive in quality, something noted by Lynch in his review of Spectre, but at least 007 isn’t black yet.

While “No Time to Die” is not a good Bond song, or a good song more generally, this isn’t necessarily a critique of Billie and Finneas’ songwriting prowess. The two certainly have chops; I suspect that were they not under the pressure to record a pop album, the siblings would have had a long career producing moody club jams paired with Billie’s ASMR-inducing whispering. But the brother-and-sister duo are still young Californians who are used to writing sun-soaked indie tunes or pop beats, as is the case with Finneas, or introspective takes on minimalism, as is the case for Billie. Neither of them are phenomenal composers. Very few chosen to pen a Bond theme could be considered phenomenal composers.

More accurately, and perhaps more poignantly, the lackluster quality of “No Time to Die” is a damning indictment of the Bond theme tradition and the state of pop music itself. The selection of Eilish for No Time to Die’s theme is a reflection on how quickly the entertainment industry is collapsing under the weight of its pretenses and business models. Stuck in the precarious situation of having to market a film designed for a target demographic that is quickly vanishing in North America and Europe, their only hope is to pull out all of the stops in terms of star power and hope it gets folks into the cinema.

The Bond themes are a prime example of just how soulless the cosmopolitan capitalist hegemony can be. The motifs of our culture are determined by who was most commercially successful in the year prior.

 

12 Comments

  1. Cfomally
    Posted February 29, 2020 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    It’s music for children.

  2. Dr. Krieger
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    That song is the musical equivalent of a car stuck in a ditch, spinning its tires for 2 minutes. It went nowhere and dug itself into a deeper hole.
    I’d rather listen to a Lana Del Rey song.

  3. Esoteric Du30ist
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Imagine my shock: an industry plant/fake heat product like some girl from twitterstagrambook is chosen to be the singer of the newest (and likely last) James Bond film. This is all kayfabe. Like Judie Dench’s M tells Pierce Brosnan’s Bond in 1995’s GoldenEye, James Bond the concept is a dinosaur, a Cold War relic. He is far to chauvinist, heternormative, masculine, aggressive, violent, and even too romantic for current year clown world. The best that music has to offer is poor sad girl Billie Eilish. Boo freaking hoo. I hope all the millions she rakes in for whispering while whatever-wave instrumentals drone in the background are some consolation.

    I hope coronavirus gives us the chance to be the fuedal warlords we always dreamed of but never got the chance to be. At least we won’t have to pretend to care about the woke black lesbian James Bond replacement or no-talent “singers” anymore when there is no electricity.

    • Esoteric Du30ist
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Maybe corona-chan will also prevent me from committing so many typographical errors as well. My apologies.

  4. Zombie Beethoven
    Posted February 27, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    “The selection of Eilish for No Time to Die’s theme is a reflection on how quickly the entertainment industry is collapsing under the weight of its pretenses and business models.”

    Music companies have adapted by making money from streaming, which has largely compensated for the decline in other revenue. We need to destroy streaming and anticipate any new strategies (((they))) may use to make money. Speaking of whom, Jewish managers like Lou Pearlman and Leonard Chess scam performers out of their profits anyway, but honestly the performers don’t deserve it because their music is lousy, and even if it were good, music is best when the artists don’t make much money. Mozart died penniless and Bieber is worth 285 million. That is all you need to know.

    All the money does is incentivize catering to biggest demographic that can be corralled into liking the music, ie, the most passive demographic with the simplest taste –low IQ brown women. Jews and Scandanavians compose endless idiotic tunes to satisfy that demographic. I don’t even think they like the songs they compose, but it is what the customer wants. Everything about it is artificially enhanced. The performers need auto-tune to make their voices sound acceptable, and the songs they sing need a hypnotic syncopated beat to rail you in because the melodies and harmonies, if you can call them that, are subpar.

    The music industry needs to go down. It is a pox on culture and curse to humanity.

  5. Oilish
    Posted February 27, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    My hope is that she is somehow able to break free of the satanic pop music industry and create the music she actually wants to make.

    And let’s not forget that under the strange hair and the eccentric wardrobe she is a young, beautiful Irish lass. Let us encourage her and others like her to express their true selves and their true heritage and to do away with the superficial negrophilic pop culture affectations forced upon them.

    • Fenek Solere
      Posted February 27, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Dear Oilish,
      No one loves and respects Irish/Celtic music more than myself – there are 100’s if not 1000’s of excellent examples performing live in small venues/clubs/pubs all over the UK/World. I can think of at least 5 I’ve seen in as many months. All of them have at least equal (and mostly more) talent than Eilish. This is about authenticity and in the case of the Bond theme (a very specific piece admittedly) a real commercial sell-out. Regardless of Eilish’s ‘potential’ the song is poor and the PR pushing it is phony! She should disavow the whole thing and step away (if she is a true and real rebel!)
      Best
      FS

      • Oilish
        Posted February 27, 2020 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        Yes, exactly! I agree with you completely.

  6. NND
    Posted February 27, 2020 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    I’ve been reading CC since years ago, and the decline in its contents is evident. Grimes? Billie Eillish? Really? What’s next? Miley Cyrus??

    This was the best cultural site of the racially conscious Right, now its just a pressure valve.

  7. P. J. Collins
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Gimme Matt Munro singing “From Russia with Love” anyway.

  8. Fenek Solere
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Dear Scott,
    I was horrified by the inanity of the lyric, syncopation and execution of the first ever ‘live’ performance. It was simply dreadful beyond words and the fact that the ‘industry’ actually promotes this supposed ‘talent’ as some kind of alternate rebel’ merely proves they have no-taste and no judgement and follow the fads of people who have even less taste and less perceptive judgement for originality than themselves. This Eilish creature is a perfect example of monetized mediocrity being force-fed to a dumbed-down culture-less mass of consumers. She is a poor imitation and amalgam of far better female vocalists like Bjork, Kate Bush, Tori Amos etc etc. She actually makes Lady Gaga look great! The sooner she disappears from our consciousness the better!
    Best
    FS

  9. Rhodok
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Yep, “Underwhelming” is what came to mind after listening.

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