Film composer David Arnold seems to have risen to prominence with unnerving swiftness, but this is in fact an illusion, as Arnold spent many years paying his dues by writing scores for English television and documentary film projects, many of them produced or directed by his lifelong friend Danny Cannon. In between times, Arnold tried out for the Clash and the Waterboys, but failed to get the gigs. Cannon made the move to feature directing with the 1993 film The Young Americans, tapping Arnold to provide the score. Arnold, in turn, co-wrote "Play Dead" with Iceland's Bjork, giving the film a British Top Ten hit. Cannon went on to Judge Dredd, while Arnold visited Los Angeles with a copy of The Young Americans. The net result of that visit was the assignment to score Roland Emmerich's Stargate.
Arnold's grandiose score for Stargate drew both positive and negative critical attention, in part because of Arnold's attention to traditional methods and styles of motion picture scoring. The music was created to be almost wall-to-wall, strong on melody. Arnold went on to score The Last of the Dogmen in a more sedate manner, following that with a score for Cutthroat Island that ended up, like much else with that film, being thrown out. Going into 1996, he was once again working for Emmerich and Dean Devlin on a wall-to-wall orchestral score for Independence Day, providing music that was delivered on an equal scale to the visuals of the film. 1997 saw him composing the theme to the short-lived The Visitor TV series and acting as the music director and composer for A Life Less Ordinary, a score that once again saw him writing more sedate music.
The big news for 1997, however, was Arnold's assignment to score Tomorrow Never Dies, the second Pierce Brosnan-starring James Bond film. Arnold's score has drawn uniform praise, though the Sheryl Crow title song, produced without Arnold's participation, has been derided. A second song, performed by k.d. lang and produced/co-written by Arnold, has received a great deal of praise and some degree of success. Arnold also produced a James Bond music tribute called Shaken and Stirred, featuring Propellerheads and others. In 1998, Arnold worked on his next major score project — the Roland Emmerich remake of Godzilla.