March 2002 it was officially announced that Madonna would record
the theme song for the Bond movie Die
Another Day. Originally a track titled 'Can't You See My Mind?' was also recorded, but later got scrapped. Late September - two weeks
before the planned radio release - NY radio Z100 premiered the song,
after which it was leaked onto the Internet. The single was released
on October 22th, nearly 18 months after her previous single What
It Feels Like For A Girl.
It debuted on the Billboard charts
at #41, making it the highest debut of the year. It peaked at
#8, her 35th top 10 hit, surpassing the Beatles who had 34 US
top 10 hits. On the Hot Dance / Club Play chart it hit #1, her 28th
#1 dance single! In the UK it had a rather disappointing debut
at #3, falling down to #12 in its second week. Fortunately
it did get to #1 in some countries such as Canada, Italy, Lebanon,
Spain and Slovakia.
Swedish director team Tractor directed the video, which was filmed
in the Hollywood Center Studios at the end of August 2002, with
a budget of nearly $6 million (3 times more than Express
Yourself, making it by far her most expensive video, and the 2nd most expensive music video ever, right after Michael & Janet Jackson's 'Scream'). It doesn't contain imagery of the Bond movie,
but it refers to Madonna's cameo as a fencing instructor: the
video shows a 'Good Madonna' (dressed in white) and 'Evil Madonna'
(dressed in black) in a fencing duel. The fight happens in a museum,
filled with Bond collectibles. In a second story line, the wounds
from the duel between the two ego's are inflicted on a battered
and bruised Madonna, who's being tortured by Korean guards. She
keeps on kicking, spitting and laughing, so the guards decide
to put her in the electric chair. But Madonna wraps phylactery
(leather strips) around her left arm to make her immune from the
ego's desire. Before she sits in the electric chair she fights
against her own ego. The Hebrew letters "Lamed-Alef-Vav"
(burned in the chair and tattood on her arm) can be translated
as 'shall not do' or simply 'not' ("it's NOT my time to go"
- maybe a tongue-in-cheek remark to her critics who predicted
her retirement). The Hebrew signs also symbolize the certainty
and lack of doubt; she truly believes that she can disappear from
the chair and as you can see in the video, she does. MTV premiered
the video simultaneously worldwide on October 10th. During the
day MTV blurred out some of the blood in the video.
Die Another Day performance is certainly another highlight of
the Re-Invention Tour.
It's a high energy performance, in which Madonna dances a tango
with four of her gorgeous dancers. The symbols of the video are
used again: the Hebrew signs appear on the screens, and the dancers
wrap the phylactery around their arms. In the end they tie Madonna
in an electric chair. And - just like in the video - Madonna takes
a huge spit towards one of her guards! To mourn her own death,
she then sings the hauntingly beautiful Lament.
American Life album only made a brief comeback on
the Sticky & Sweet Tour with an
interlude of Die Another Day. The Bond theme got re-invented into a fast-tempo boxing
anthem, visualized by a strong & dark video, made by Tom Munro. While two dancers
get into a real fight in a boxing ring, Madonna represents their psyche in the video
(much like the theme of the original clip). Among the punch sound effects, Scorpion from
the video game Mortal Kombat can be heard with his signature shout-out "Get over here!".
Images of the video can also be seen in
the official tourbook.