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Please, no beehive for Bond

May 11, 2008|Todd Martens | Times Staff Writer

The NEWS that Amy Winehouse would not, in all likelihood, be recording the theme song for the upcoming James Bond film was disappointing in that it again turned the focus away from the British singer's music and onto her personal life.

An Associated Press story quoted producer Mark Ronson as stating that the soul revivalist is "not ready" to record any music, which seems to have been disputed by Winehouse's press team. Other stories quoted an unnamed Winehouse rep as saying the reason she won't record the theme for "Quantum of Solace" is a result of artistic differences. An official statement from Winehouse's U.S. rep implies that Winehouse and Ronson couldn't agree on the song. Nevertheless, the Grammy darling was still the wrong choice for "Quantum of Solace."

While tapping her could be seen as daring, she was actually a risk-free, obvious choice, her music steeped so much in the soul of the '60s and '70s that she can sometimes look as if she's playing a part. To compare her with a former Bond songstress, Winehouse is Shirley Bassey with a rebel's streak. It's hard to imagine Winehouse crafting anything that didn't sound a bit like a riff on Bassey's version of "Diamonds Are Forever." In fact, much of Winehouse's 2007 album, "Back to Black," does.

So there's no doubt that Winehouse could have crafted a perfectly acceptable Bond theme, as any of the songs on "Back to Black" would have fit in comfortably with the jazzy Bond songs of the '70s. They're dapper and sexy and attempt to exploit a sort of vintage coolness, and that's the problem.

Check her 2008 Grammy appearance. Stripped of the drama as to whether she would appear, Winehouse and her black cocktail dress could be dropped 30 years in the past and no one would be the wiser.

But 2006's Bond film, "Casino Royale," marked a change in direction for the series. Although some would argue that "Casino Royale" saw 007 copping a few moves from Jason Bourne, it was nevertheless a sleeker, tougher, more modern Bond and one less concerned with where the films had already gone.

A Winehouse song opening the new Bond film would be a step backward for the new Daniel Craig Bond flicks, a nod to a period when the Bond films were championing Bassey, Louis Armstrong and Carly Simon, among others. "Casino Royale," we hope, began a new Bond trend -- redefining the series so it's less concerned with tradition.

A better alternative: The best choice for the job, while still staying on a soul-music tip, would be Gnarls Barkley, which could bring an appropriate sense of outlandish grandeur to the tune. Through its two albums, the electro-soul duo has shown an ability to add orchestral flourishes and modern accessories without sounding indebted to an era or obsessed with the latest sounds. --

todd.martens@latimes.com

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