On Crafting the Perfect Theme Song for a James Bond 007 Movie

 

The UK’s Guardian newspaper has an interesting piece on creating the ‘perfect’ Bond song. While I’m not sure I agree with their conclusions, I do think it’s worth a read:

 

The formula has undergone periodic reinventions. McCartney took things in a thrilling, rockier direction for Live and Let Die (while observing “you’ve got to keep vaguely within the format”). Duran Duran combined Bond stabs and new romantic pop for A View to a Kill, while Madonna’s techno anthem, Die Another Day, was not universally loved. Perhaps she forgot another Bond dictum: the artist is never bigger than the film. Parkhouse suggests that there is a fine line between homage and pastiche. “Adele stayed the right side of it, but Sam Smith fell over with Writing’s on the Wall [reportedly written in 20 minutes], a parody of a Bond theme. No one could name it as the theme from Spectre because it didn’t share the title.”

 

Hmm. Okay.

 

Of course, 007 fans are aware that the new film No Time to Die hits the cineplex this April, but some may also know that Billie Eilish will write and sing this installment’s theme song. And while this is the 25th film in the James Bond franchise. Eilish is a mere 18 years old,making her the youngest musician ever to provide the soundtrack to a Bond film and she is writing it herself (with her brother). 

 

Well, I wanted to share a few versions of Bond theme songs that you may not have heard because they were rejected and relegated to the dust bin of her Majesty’s secret service.  For instance, punk pop group Blondie composed and performed a theme song to For Your Eyes Only (1981), but this was rejected as the producers wanted Debbie Harry to sing a tune written by Bill Conti -- who went on to write Sheena Easton’s actually-quite-good ballad of the same name with Michael Leeson.

 

Anyway, Blondie’s attempt eventually turned up on their 1982 flop album The Hunter. Whadyya think?

 

Blondie - For Your Eyes Only

 

And here’s Sheena Easton’s version:

 

Sheena Easton - For Your Eyes Only [Bond theme song 1981, Widescreen]

 

As for other songs that could’ve worked as a Bond theme? Quite possibly 007 regular John Barry’s Play it Again (sung by Wilma Reading) from Blake Edwards’ enjoyable Julie Andrews/Omar Sharif spy thriller The Tamarind Seed (1974).  Too saccharine? Maybe I’ve just been on an Omar Sharif kick lately…

 

Wilma Reading- Play It Again - The Tamarind Seed (1974) Soundtrack

 

 

If that doesn’t thrill you, maybe you should try Portishead’s Sour Times (1994) on for size:

Portishead - Sour Times

 

 

Or from the same era, maybe the even harder-edged Angel from Massive Attack’s 1998 best-seller Mezzanine? 

Massive Attack-Angel (Mezzanine album)

Incidentally, I penned something on James Bond and script doctors for The Guardian last year, so knock yourself out kids.

 

Arnell Esq

Arnell Esq

Broadcast consultant - former Director/Creator of ITV3, ITV4 in the UK, producer/writer (most recently Bob Fosse for Sky Arts in May 2019), commentator/rent-a-gob for trades, broadsheets and magazines. Also occasional lecturer (University of Westminster, London). Content provider.

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