Analysis of “Writing’s on the Wall”

Writing ‘s on the Wall was co-written by Smith and Jimmy Napes. Smith said that the song came together in one Whirlwind session: he and Napes wrote it in under half an hour and quickly recorded a demo. When they Listened back to that recording, they were so pleased with Smith vocal performance that they ended up using it on the final release – albeit with some added muscle in the arrangement. On 8 September 2015 Sam Smith announced that he was singing the song for the James Bond film Spectre. He described performing the theme es «one of the highlights of my career». The English band Radiohead also Composed a song for the film which went unused.

The singer expressed some backlash at his vocal performance, feeling it was «horrible to sing» as the notes are «just sota high».

The song received a mixed response from critics at the time of its release. Alexis Petridis of The Guardian wrote «Writing ‘s on the Wall attempts to capture the mood of Adele’ s Skyfall theme – but backs Sam Smith claim it only took 20 minutes to write». Lewis Corner of Digital Spy rated it 3 out of 5 stars. Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph called the song a «monster Bond ballad», stating, «is very, very slow and surprisingly restrained, at times floating by on resonant piano notes, the faintest brush stroke of orchestra, with all the focus on Smith intense, Tremulous vocal, rising with controlled pace and tensió to an audacious chorus pay-off».

So, let’s go with the analysis and the connection with the film!

I’ve been here before
But always hit the floor
I’ve spent a lifetime running
And I always get away
But with you I’m feeling something
That makes me want to stay
I’m prepared for this
I never shoot to miss
But I feel like a storm is coming
If I’m gonna make it through the day
Then there’s no more use in running
This is something I gotta face

British superspy James Bond has always been known as a ladies man, rarely willing to settle down with a woman. When he leaves the bed, he hits the ground running.

However, for the first time in his life, James is feeling the bonds of love.

If I risk it all
Could you break my fall?

This line has a reference to the previous James Bond film Skyfall. With his lover dead and his organization in a rebuilding mode, this is a question that may not have a good answer for Mr. Bond.

How do I live? How do I breathe?
When you’re not here I’m suffocating
I want to feel love run through my blood

A common theme throughout pop music – the absolutism of a relationship. It’s either life or death regarding this important person; it’s life and happiness in the presence of this person, and darkness and hardship without. There’s no in between.

It should be noted that there’s a transition thematically from previous Bond theme songs; there’s a distinct topical move to love. Bond’s normally characterized as someone who doesn’t need or want love – just intimacy, sex, attention, romance – not the very human and very vulnerable emotion of love. In fact, in Skyfall, the most recent Bond theme song, there’s lyrics that actually refuse love & permanence altogether:

You may have my number
You can take my name
But you’ll never have my heart

This chorus is sung in falsetto, which extend’s Sam’s vocal range much higher than usual.

Tell me is this where I give it all up?
For you I have to risk it all
‘Cause the writing’s on the wall

The phrase “Writing on the wall” implies impending and often enigmatic disaster. This relates to both the plot of the film (which focuses on Bond’s attempt to understand the truth behind the enemy organization SPECTRE), and a point of decision in a relationship where the singer has to decide if love is worth the risk.

Don’t miss the analysis of the unused song for Spectre by Radiohead!

WRITING’S ON THE WALL refers to Chapter 5 of the Book of Daniel in the Bible when King Belshazzar sees the words «Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upsharin» written on a wall. Belshazzar summons Daniel to interpret the writing, which Daniel translates as “Numbered, numbered, weighed, divided.” Daniel tells Belshazzar that the writing means that Babylonian kingdom will be invaded and divided among the Medes and the Persians. The term “writing on the wall” has since been used to refer any omen that predicts a bad outcome.

In the United Kingdom, Writing ‘s on the Wall became the first James Bond theme to reach number one, on the issue dated 8 October 2015. The previous highest-charting Bond themes were Adele’ s Skyfall and Duran Duran s A View to a Kill, which both reached number two. It also became Smith fifth UK number-one single within two years. The song Spent a total of 16 consecutive weeks in the UK Singles Chart. In the United States, Writing’s on the Wall debuted and peaked at number 71 on the Billboard Hot 100, compared to the previous Bond song, Skyfall, which debuted at number 8 in October 2012. In Canada, the song debuted at and peaked number 43. in Australia, the song performed moderately, debuting at number 44, and later peaking at number 43, but in Ireland, the song was a much bigger hit, debuting and peaking at number 9. The song has also charted in several other European countries though to a far lesser degree than its predecessor.

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SAM SMITH won the Oscar for this song, as ADELE did for the same in 2012.

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