The 2012 film Skyfall represented the 23rd time that James Bond had graced the silver screen, the third time that 007 had been brought to life by Daniel Craig, and the second time that the film's title cut didn't make the official soundtrack. Like Chris Cornell's contribution to 2006's Casino Royale, Adele's "Skyfall" was relegated to downloadable single status, allowing more room for the full score, which in this case was supplied by the talented Thomas Newman, while leaving unassuming listeners bereft of what was traditionally the initial selling point for most of the long-running franchise's soundtracks. Newman, the ninth Bond composer, stays true to the Daniel Craig-era penchant for swapping John Barry's iconic orchestral cues for loop-heavy yet appropriately moody and propulsive electronic elements that would have benefited from a lighter touch, which is surprising considering some of Newman's career highlights (American Beauty, Shawshank Redemption, Road to Perdition). That said, the occasional tips of the hat to the past ("Grand Bazaar, Istanbul," "Breadcrumbs") and some truly explosive ("Tennyson") and somber ("Voluntary Retirement") moments help to balance out the score's more rote passages.
The unseen actor in Skyfall
The emotional and inclusive score delivered by the team here is indeed the unseen actor in the superb and flawless Skyfall. The score transports the audience into the movie and wraps you in a Bond coat of quality. Thomas Newman should be rewarded with more Bond scores and his work will inspire Bond music for another 50 years.
After the departure of David Arnold who has scored the past 5 Bond films, I have to say I was really quite reticent to see what Newman could come up with. Casino Royale has to be one of my favourite scores of all time and some of the cues are simply beautiful.
But Newman definitely rises to the occasion, delivering a brilliantly fitting score that suits the film perfectly, retaining that crucial 'Bond-ness'.
There are hints of Adele's 'Skyfall' smattered in a few of the pieces and all in all, I really can't fault Thomas Newman.
Good, but no Arnold
Having been a David Arnold fan for some years, even before Bond, it was nice to see him enter into the world of Bond with composing Tomorrow Never Dies. I've owned every Bond soundtrack since then and all are very good, with Casino Royale and QOS two of the best in my opinion. I was a bit dubious at first when I learnt that David Arnold would not be scoring Skyfall, but I was prepared to give Thomas Newman a chance.
Unfortunately after downloading and repeat listening to the Skyfall soundtrack I am just unable to get into it and it doesn't feel like a Bond soundtrack to me. There are the odd stand out tracks and some tracks do have the Bond theme undertone to them, but it just wasn't distinctive enough in the way that Casino Royale was and doesn't stand out for me. It's an okay soundtrack, it's not bad by any means, but at 30 odd tracks it is a bit long and just doesn't feel Bond enough.
I sincerely hope that David Arnold comes back for the next Bond soundtrack, I'm wanting another Casino Royale but sadly Skyfall doesn't live up to any of the previous 5 Arnold soundtracks.
Born: 20 October 1955 in Los Angeles, CA
Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s