The beefy guitar riff bursts in, followed by piano notes picking out the unmistakeable James Bond tune to announce the song that will have fans salivating for the next instal-ment of the 007 chronicles.
The months of speculation over the soundtrack to the forthcoming Bond film Quantum of Solace – released in six weeks – ended yesterday when the title track got its first airing on Jo Whiley's Radio One show.
Another Way to Die is the result of an unlikely duet – the first in Bond history – between a blues rock star and a soul singer. The White Stripes' idiosyncratic Jack White and the Grammy-winning singer Alicia Keys stepped in after a collaboration between Amy Winehouse and the producer Mark Ronson collapsed.
If the aim was to match the edgier, darker side of the agent captured by Daniel Craig, the song succeeds – from the piano which picks out the original Bond tune with a sinister twist, to the dark, fuzzy guitar riff that is instantly recognisable as belonging to White. What's more, their voices blend as they sing out alternate lines, the urgency of White's vocals and Keys' more powerful and accomplished voice first alternating, then simultaneous in the chorus.
But, as a song in its own right, Another Way to Die, on first hearing, sounds unlikely to join the ranks of the most successful Bond theme tunes.
Paul Stokes, the news editor of the New Musical Express, is yet to be convinced. "I thought their voices blended really well and they seemed to be quite different characters," he said. "But my concern is that it doesn't really feel like a Bond theme. It has the right chord progression and sinister sound, and is a million times better than the last one by Chris Cornell, which was not only the worst Bond song ever, but the worst song, so it's a step in the right direction. But it is a missed opportunity. It doesn't feel like a swelling Bond theme. It's making nods towards it, but just falls between doing something radical and not being retro enough.
"I'd prefer to see someone like Muse move it into a contemporary era, or the Last Shadow Puppets."
Some had already heard the tune to Another Way to Die on a Coca Cola Zero advert, prompting the displeasure of White, who has since suffered a fit of artistic pique. After the musician heard his notes pushing the virtues of "Bloke Coke", his entourage retorted: "Jack White was commissioned by Sony Pictures to write a theme song for the James Bond film Quantum Of Solace, not for Coca Cola... Any other use of the song is based on decisions made by others, not by Jack White."