James Bond, it is the the most famous popcorn flick franchise in the world. Fast cars, thrilling action, and of course, lots of boobs. But perhaps the main thing we think about is the song, and those openings. The lush opening sequence of a Bond film is truly what makes it for me, and the song is very important.
So this post is actually a rewrite and expansion of an earlier one I did, which can be read here. I have decided to add to it, however, because there are a lot more potential Bond themes that I have come across in the last 5 years. On one hand, you can see why some were rejected. Not every song on this list is a Goldfinger or a Live and Let Die. Others, however, I personally like more than the original.
Behaviour is my favourite PSB album. I did not know that its second track, ‘This must be the Place I’ve waited years to leave’ was derived from a demo for a potential James Bond theme. In that context, you do get glimpses of what it could have sounded like. Pet Shop Boys actually sent a number of demos to John Berry, with this one in consideration for The Living Daylights. In the end, A-Ha made the song, and this became one of the tracks on Behaviour.
As to why this song didn’t get turned into a Bond theme, I wasn’t able to get a cited source. Rumour is that the PSB wanted to do the entire soundtrack, not just the main title theme, as they would do for a couple of movies. The filmmakers didn’t want to give PSB that much, so John Berry did it, and the theme did go to A-Ha.
The Man with the Golden Gun is actually one of my favourite James Bond films, as it gets the mixture of campness and seriousness right in its plot. It’s not the best, but it is one of my favourites.
And yes, Alice Cooper the band had written and recorded this Bond song. This would have been a fine entry into the Bond song canon, as it makes a good action theme. The guitar, the orchestral, and jazzy elements would have been great additions to the film score. This song was practically ready to go, but the producers went with Lulu’s innuendo bingo cut instead. I find that a shame, but it has its fans.
But then, one might consider it fortunate, especially if you aren’t a fan of Roger Moore’s Bond. I like Moore’s Bond, but they should have kept him for 3 or 4 films, as they went downhill. Oh well, this song should have been a Bond theme.
You know this story already. Radiohead recorded Spectre as a song for…Spectre, after their initial offering was rejected, for not being written for a Bond theme. It was also 20 years old, not that it changes anything. There were attempts to include it in the film, but it wasn’t. And for me, as an unpopular opinion, they should have gone with Man of War. Spectre is too much of a downer, and just meanders. I’d risk losing the Best original Oscar score for Man of War, which is peak Radiohead.
Moving to the 1990’s, and we have Pierce Brosnan’s Bond, who probably suffered the Moore curse of playing the role far too long. I like Pierce Brosnan, he had the suave Bond look to him, but I could never see him as Bond. Retrospectively, the Sheryl Crow theme is not looked upon fondly, despite its golden globe win. From my perspective, the way this theme was picked sounds like a mess. The Producers enlisted 12 artists to write a Bond theme. 12. Any of them could fit in this slot, to be honest with you. You can make your pick, and pretend I am talking about it. Pulp’s is the only one I’ve listened to, and while it sounds like a polished demo, I can see the potential of what they tried to do.
It needed more to it to lift it up into a full Bond theme, perhaps a new vocal take, and some more orchestra, and it probably would have worked. It is unsatisfying because its unfinished, but understandingly so. The Pulp effort became a B-Side to Help the Aged, with eventual inclusion in deluxe re-releases of This is Hardcore.
Shirley Bassey could have done another Bond theme, or two. Technically, this isn’t a Bond theme, though this song was penned by Quantum of Solace composer David Arnold, along with regular Bond theme lyricist Don Black, and elements of it appear in the movie’s score. Something happened with this song, and it was certainly ready to take part in the 2008 release Quantum of Solace (to date, the only Bond movie I have seen in a cinema). In the end, Jack White and Alicia Keys did the song, and I really like that one too.
For the final song, I am sort of cheating. This song was not actually written for a Bond film, but it could have been the theme to Skyfall. I have already written a lengthy retrospective on Muse, in fact that was my last post, I think this could have been good. It is a typical Muse song, and with the current trend of Bond songs, and the way they sound today, this one suits that role very well. Of course, Skyfall was flanked with the vocals of Adele, and Adele is a very good singer, who embodied Bond songs of the past, but still making her effort Timeless and Contemporary.
A quick note, my opinion on Sam Smith’s Spectre theme: suited the film. Kind of lacklustre. As for the theme to No Time to Die, by Billie Eilish, the jury is still out on that one for me. Its certainly a modern Bond theme, but I need a few listens to really get it. It’s not terrible though, I quite like Billie Eilish.
At the end of the day, does it really matter what the song is. Ultimately, whilst the song is meant to be timeless, it is supposed to be contemporary, and fit the theme of the film. For better or worse, the songs that were picked did fit the films that they were meant for. I think a song should be memorable. What was picked people DO remember, for good or for ill. Though saying all that, it is fun to imagine a world where different songs were picked.