After watching the Fantastic Four and drawing the inevitable comparisons with The Incredibles, I got to thinking about the really cool soundtrack for the Incredibles. It seemed the perfect addition to my “cool music” collection, so I set off in search of a copy. It took some doing, but I did finally found a copy.
So what, exactly, is “spy music?” It’s one of those genres that you know when you hear. It can encompass 50’s and 60’s lounge music, EuroCool, and orchestral themes with heavy rhythm components. Spy music originated as soundtrack material, used to convey alternately stealth, brashness, action, coolness, and all with an undeniable underlying sense of confidence. The quentissential spy music came from the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, with soundtracks from James Bond and The Saint, and relies more heavily upon orchestral themes woven with nacent rock guitar riffs. Take James Bond, for example. The main theme starts with three orchestral stabs resolving into a string chord progression with overlaying guitar motif. Then enter the horns with the secondary theme that conveys a brash suavity. Within just a few bars, John Barry’s signature theme conveys action, stealth, and bravuro.
Since the music can be so brash, it is ripe for parody, such as Nancy Sinatra’s “Last of the Secret Agents.” It can also be found in non-spy movies. Last night we watched Hitch with Wil Smith. A spy theme figured prominently in the soundtrack and as the closing theme. Back to the Incredibles, the soundtrack by Michael Giacchino is one constant spytrack, based on the music of Henry Mancini and John Barry. Some other good sources of spy music are the remixes by Propellerheads, one of which even features Shirly Bassey of Goldfinger fame, and music by Garbage. Probably the best source can be found via Internet radio through the Downtown Uptempo Spy Channel, which intersperses cool music with clips of dialogue from various James Bond movies.
Whether from the 50’s and 60’s or from current artists, spy music makes a wonderful soundtrack for parties.