“No Time to Die” – Billie Eilish
In preparation for the release of the newest James Bond movie, No Time to Die, on April 10, Billie Eilish dropped a theme song of the same name. Bond soundtracks are practically a genre in themselves, with standouts such as “Live and Let Die” and “Skyfall” that still have a life outside the films. Eilish—who, first of all, was the perfect choice for the featured artist of the theme—knocks it out of the park with this single. Her hauntingly soft vocals whispered over piano chords, electric guitar, and just the right amount of Bond-esque horns create an impression of operatic loss that looks as though it’s going to fit perfectly with the upcoming film. The lyrics—written by Eilish and her brother Finneas—such as “That the blood you bleed is just the blood you owe” are striking in their own right and relevant to the storyline of Daniel Craig’s Bond. Eilish’s “No Time to Die” is absolutely entrancing, and despite her youth, her mastery puts the rising star in the same class as previous Bond theme powerhouses Adele and Madonna.
“Born Here Live Here Die Here” – Luke Bryan
Embracing country music stereotypes so tightly it’s almost as if it’s wearing country music as a skin suit, Luke Byran is dishearteningly hollow in “Born Here Live Here Die Here.” With uninspired electric-guitar-and-twang instrumentation, Bryan would need to really wow the listener to save this song from mediocrity. He does not deliver. In fact, he is so far from breaking new ground, I actually found myself wondering if this was very subtle satire. Unfortunately, it’s not. Bryan is simply clinging, white-knuckled, to a rose-colored past just like, as he sings “My daddy, and his daddy.” His plan? “Ride the same roads, work the same dirt / Go to the same church and drink the same beer.” His pride in his stasis and determination to die in exactly the same place boggles the mind.
“Love You Like I Used To” – Russell Dickerson
Russell Dickerson’s new country song, “Love You Like I Used To” gets two and a half stars because it is so utterly average it’s almost indescribable (as in, unable to be described). But since you’ve come here for description, this single is what you would get if we took all of country music from the last 15 years, blended it on high, strained out any good qualities (compelling narrative or emotion) and any bad qualities (any sort of “bro-country” characteristics such as transparent sexism, homophobia, or anti-immigrant sentiment), and served it on a bed of white rice.
Correction (2/20/20, 8:45 p.m.): The original version of this review stated that the lyrics of ‘No Time to Die’ were written by Billie Eilish’s brother, Finneas. It has been updated to reflect that the lyrics were written by both Eilish and her brother.
Featured Image by Interscope Records