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Sam Smith: How his 'Writing's On The Wall' compares to best Bond tunes

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(Read caption) Sam Smith performs on stage during the V Festival 2015 at Hylands Park in Chelmsford, Essex, England.

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Sam Smith’s song, “Writing’s On The Wall,” which will accompany the upcoming James Bond film “SPECTRE,” has been released.

Smith is best known for his hit songs “Stay With Me” and “Lay Me Down.” He has won multiple Grammy Awards, including best new artist and record of the year for “Stay.” 

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For those who are used to bombastic Bond songs, Smith’s song “Writing” is certainly a change of pace. Dramatic strings and horns give way to what is mainly piano and Smith’s vocals, backed occasionally by more strings. The song is a quiet ballad as opposed to, for example, the theatrical flair of Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” or the more recent effort “Another Way to Die” by Jack White and Alicia Keys, which accompanied the movie “Quantum of Solace.” 

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The song does swell near the middle, recalling the full-power vocals of Adele’s smash hit “Skyfall,” the most recent “Bond” song, before it segues into Smith’s quiet falsetto.

The film that the song is accompanying, “SPECTRE,” is star Daniel Craig’s newest turn as the super spy. Craig’s first film in the role, 2006's "Casino Royale," was critically acclaimed and was viewed as having renewed the franchise creatively.

Craig’s last film, 2012’s “Skyfall,” became the highest-grossing Bond movie yet internationally.

The upcoming film includes the return of previous “Bond” stars Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, and Ben Whishaw and also stars Léa Seydoux, Dave Bautista, Monica Belluci, and Christoph Waltz. 

Adele’s “Skyfall” is the most successful “Bond” song in recent memory, with White and Keys’ song “Another Way to Die” and Chris Cornell’s song for “Casino,” titled “You Know My Name,” being viewed by fans as not as popular. “Skyfall” is also the only Bond song to win the Oscar for Best Original Song.

Duran Duran’s “A View To A Kill,” which accompanied the 1985 movie of the same name, is still the most popular “Bond” song in terms of chart history, with the track having reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Other top chart performers are Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better,” which reached number two in 1977, and McCartney and Wings’ “Live and Let Die,” which also reached number two in 1973.

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The songs that are usually heralded as the best to accompany the franchise are Simon’s “Nobody,” McCartney’s “Live,”  and Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger,” and “Diamonds Are Forever.” 

Adele’s “Skyfall” was seen as a throwback to the earlier era of Bond songs, with its musical similarities to songs like “Goldfinger” and “Diamonds.” Smith’s song is as well, eschewing the guitars of songs like “Another Way to Die,” but it’s also quieter than songs like “Skyfall” and “Goldfinger.”

Both Adele's and Smith's songs recall Bassey's Bond tracks rather than the guitar stylings of "Another Way to Die" and "You Know My Name," but Adele's track is a closer match to the drama of Bassey's songs, while Smith's is a quieter tune.