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"Writing's on the Wall" is a song by English singer Sam Smith, written for the release of the 2015 James Bond film Spectre. The song was released as a digital download on 25 September 2015. The song was written by Smith and Jimmy Napes, and produced by the latter alongside Steve Fitzmaurice and Disclosure and released on 25 September 2015.
"Writing's on the Wall" was co-written by Smith and Jimmy Napes. Smith said that the song came together in one whirlwind session: he and Napes wrote it in under half an hour and quickly recorded a demo. When they listened back to that recording, they were so pleased with Smith's vocal performance that they ended up using it on the final release--albeit with some added muscle in the arrangement. On 8 September 2015, Sam Smith announced that he was singing the song for the James Bond film Spectre. He described performing the theme as "one of the highlights of my career". The English band Radiohead also composed a song for the film, "Spectre", which went unused.
The song is written in the key of F minor with a tempo of 66 beats per minute (Larghetto). Smith's vocals range from A
?3 to D?5. The singer expressed some backlash at his vocal performance, feeling it was "horrible to sing" as the notes are "just so high".
"Writing's on the Wall" received a mixed response from critics. Alexis Petridis of The Guardian wrote that the song attempted to capture the mood of Adele's "Skyfall", but "doesn't feel anywhere near as striking ... the chances of it joining the pantheon of Bond themes that anyone with even a passing interest in pop music can hum seem pretty slender". Lewis Corner of Digital Spy rated it 3 out of 5 stars. Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph called the song a "monster Bond ballad", stating, "(The song) is very, very slow and surprisingly restrained, at times floating by on resonant piano notes, the faintest brush stroke of orchestra, with all the focus on Smith's intense, tremulous vocal, rising with controlled pace and tension to an audacious chorus pay-off". Chris DeVille of Stereogum felt it was inferior to Radiohead's rejected song.
In the United Kingdom, "Writing's on the Wall" became the first James Bond theme to reach number one, on the issue dated 8 October 2015. The previous highest-charting Bond themes were Adele's "Skyfall" and Duran Duran's "A View to a Kill", which both reached number two. It also became Smith's fifth UK number-one single within two years. The song spent a total of 16 consecutive weeks in the UK Singles Chart. In the United States, "Writing's on the Wall" debuted and peaked at number 71 on the Billboard Hot 100, compared to the previous Bond song, "Skyfall", which debuted at number 8 in October 2012. In Canada, the song debuted at and peaked number 43. In Australia, the song performed moderately, debuting at number 44, and later peaking at number 43, but in Ireland, the song was a much bigger hit, debuting and peaking at number 9. The song has also charted in several other European countries though to a far lesser degree than its predecessor.