In just a few short years, 18-year-old pop vocalist Billie Eilish has risen to fame with her signature vocals and clever songwriting skills. She certainly won favor with the Recording Academy after her Grammy wins this year, making her a prime choice for the newest James Bond movie’s theme song, “No Time To Die.” The track is a powerful yet simplistic ballad that follows the dramatic style of the James Bond franchise, written without sacrificing Eilish’s poetic songwriting style.
“No Time to Die” accomplishes exactly what it is supposed to, providing a dramatic introduction to the movie franchise’s aesthetic. Similar to past Bond theme songs, “No Time to Die” takes the form of a longing ballad. Eilish is not known for her ballads — rather, her most notable hit, “bad guy,” is upbeat, rhythmic and danceable, a huge contrast to past James Bond songs. Eilish, however, does not sacrifice her signature sound to fit the Bond universe. Rather, she uses her smart songwriting abilities to tie into the upcoming movie’s sly spy mood without sacrificing her elusive style.
Reminiscent of her early hit song “Ocean Eyes,” Eilish’s vocals creep in after haunting piano notes, starting “No Time to Die” on an eerie note. The build of delicate strings makes this a true James Bond anthem, increasing the song’s suspenseful vibe. The track succinctly ponders the emptiness Bond has felt for so long, with the opening lyric, “I should’ve known I’d leave alone,” hitting this theme immediately and focusing heavily on lies and their heavy prominence in Bond’s life. With the many repetitions of “Fool me once, fool me twice” and the lyrical crooning of “Was it obvious to everybody else that I’d fallen for a lie?”, the song sets up the movie wonderfully, playing off of the lies suggested in the film’s trailer.
In the end, Eilish’s voice shines without frills or gimmicks, displaying her prowess as an enchanting vocalist, as well as a clever songwriter in partnership with her producer brother, Finneas O’Connell. While “No Time to Die” is repetitive and simplistic, it serves the James Bond drama well, following the ballad style associated with other James Bond anthems from recent years. While this is by no means one of Eilish’s best-written or most creative songs, it isn’t designed to be, seeking instead to represent the same-titled movie with a simplistic yet haunting tune.
“No Time to Die” is satisfying to both longtime Bond fans and Eilish’s younger fanbase. The song dutifully fits in with Bond history, making it a successful venture for Eilish — always shaken, never stirred.
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