Sam Mendes on Radiohead's Spectre


Arnold has said (several times) that No Good About Goodbye was never written for QOS, it was just when Bassey approached him about working on her album, he thought he’d use a motif he had written for QOS in the orchestration of NGAG as a sort of “what if?” but it was never actually going to be a Bond theme.



Although I would have preferred this song to the actual… um… mess.


No doubt this is probably true. However, it’s sentiment does fit a sequel to CR very well; Bond’s parting from Vesper being a rather complex one.

But even if it had been written for QoS, it would’ve been correct to drop it for Jack White imo. Arnold’s slow(ish), melancholic song would’ve been an ill fit for the high energy, fast pace of Forster’s rabid, revenge thriller.


It’s all subjective but I think the Radiohead song has no consistent melody and the lyrics are hard to follow. If it had been chosen it would have been one of my least favorites.


I’m not a fan of Radiohead’s song. Like others have said, it’s too ambient and unstructured to be an effective theme song. It’s a good piece of music in it’s own right, but I think they made the right call.

That being said, I have issues with Sam Smith’s song as well. It’s a good song and definitely has the Bondian feel and melody to it, but lyrically it is all wrong. The lyrics suggest that the film has a strong romantic narrative, but I don’t get that at all watching SP. I tend to think of it in the same light as I do All Time High; that is, a perfectly lovely song that has nothing to do with the film it represents.

Speaking of Octopussy…Why on earth couldn’t Smith have used the word spectre in the lyrics anywhere?? After all, it’s not a difficult word to sing or rhyme like OP or Quantum. (Even Jack White was able to sneak the word “solace” into his song.)


I’m not sure what that means. If it’s a good piece of music it’s a good piece of music. To be it’s like David Arnold vs. Thomas Newman: sure, one might have a more hummable melody, but the other has much more depth and quality to it. Radiohead’s Spectre is way, way better.


A Bond song has to have a memorable, hummable melody. Radiohead´s song is just an emo piece of one musical idea being floated around for a few minutes. It was the right decision to drop that.


They didn’t drop it: read Mendes’ explanation of what happened at the top the of the page.

And if by ‘one musical idea’ you mean ‘one melody’: well sure, it’s got one melody. You can’t claim it hasn’t got a melody. And it’s way better than the Smith dirge.


Sloppy use of the word “drop”, I apologize.

The one musical idea is the build up to a chorus that never really comes.

Sure, it has a melodic structure - but I would hardly call that ascending and descending sequence of notes a well-constructed melody. And Radiohead definitely can do much better.

If you prefer it to Smith´s song, please do. But compare the Radiohead song with the previous Bond songs and you will see the difference and what a Bond song is about.

Okay, let’s not mention “Another way to die”.


I don’t want the same thing every time. As I mentioned above, Newman’s score is lovely, but it doesn’t exactly match what a Barry score does- so does that mean it doesn’t function as a Bond score? Of course not.

What I don’t want is a thin, weak and trashy song like Smith delivered. Radiohead’s Spectre has way more resonance and genuine depth to it. It’s just better.


Well, horses for courses. I for one, while no friend of Smith’s song, have to admit its melody stuck with me long after the film. The interpretation itself wasn’t anything to write home about - but it does have that catchy quality of the ear worm.

Radiohead’s meanwhile is modelled as tapestry of sound, more like an ambient tune. To me there is nothing that would stick. I’m a fan of most of Radiohead’s early œuvre and I think there are easily five or six songs that would be vastly superior to this. If you like it, fine. But even you must admit that this would have been a niche song for a mainstream Bond film and would hardly have met with undivided applause.

Overall, I’m disappointed both Smith and Yorke didn’t hand in something better.


What does meet with undivided applause? The Smith tune is crap, the Radiohead one is better.
‘Shaddup a Your Face’ is a catchy ear worm, that doesn’t make it a better song than ‘All Time High’ or whatever. I don’t get this weird insistence from everyone that a catchy tune = a good song or score.


What defines great songs? Blimey, I wouldn’t know…
Of course you’re right, there are the nasty tunes that wind themselves into the mind, uninvited, unwelcome. Peanut Butter Jelly Time comes to mind, an aggressive loop Write or Die uses to kick people off their behinds. Once you heard it you never want to hear it again.

I’m also all for experimenting, going into previously uncharted territory, development, evolvement. But that doesn’t mean we can altogether ignore acceptability with the majority of the audience. Artistic freedom doesn’t exist in a vacuum, least of all when a Bond main title song is concerned. That may challenge, may provoke.

But in the end it has to convince. Radiohead’s didn’t. That may not be fair or to our liking. But it’s the only real benchmark we’ve got.


I agree about TWOTW being a good song done badly. I think if it’d had a little more pace and drive, it could’ve been really effective. As arranged and performed, it seems dreary and almost as boring as All Time High. IMO, of course.


Not that I’m any kind of expert on music, obviously. But I would have thought if Smith had invested more than his 15 minutes - or whatever it was, I forget - and if maybe this had been a team effort with a considerably stronger voice as interpret, then this could have been outstanding.


“Big, Brass, Bold and makes you take notice” was what I’ll always remember from an interview with Barry. YKMN had that “slap in the face” punch in it’s opening chords and the melody lent itself to an accompanying orchestration. It’s been stated repeatedly, so I’ll just keep saying it…

Dame Shirley. One more time for the 25th with Arnold back.


Just for context, When Radiohead released Spectre they said:

"“Last year we were asked to write a tune for Bond movie Spectre. Yes we were. It didn’t work out … but became something of our own which we love very much.”

and Johnny Greenwood (guitarist/string arranger) said: "It wasn’t right for the film, what we did. So we thought, “Great! Then it’s ours. We can finish it how it’s meant to be and we can release it.”

So basically, the version we’re hearing was worked on post rejection and is in Radiohead’s pure vision, not the way it would have sounded exactly in film


Thanks for that context, much appreciated. This perhaps explains to some extent how the tune does not seem exactly tailored to Bond main titles.


I find it works really well on the main titles. But then years back I always kind of dreamed that something as evocative as Lovely Head by Goldfrapp could be on the titles of a Bond.


Interesting. I just wonder why they still used lyrics about “Spectre” then.