Bond Theme Musings

michael jackson james bond

The last batch of James Bond themes have been so awful you can't help thinking about people who might have done something better. The list of singers/groups who have been considered for a Bond theme (but never actually ended up doing one) is a long one and there are some interesting links and diversions along the way. Did you know, for example, that The Pet Shop Boys were originally hired to write the theme song for The Living Daylights? Their instrumental demo for the theme, which you can easily find on YouTube, was rejected and the job went to the Norwegian group a-ha in the end, much to the annoyance of John Barry because he didn't get on with them. The Pet Shop Boys demo is catchy and interesting if nothing else and had some potential for John Barry to sprinkle it with his Bond stardust.

British electronica duo Goldfrapp were often very short odds in 2006 to compose the theme song for Casino Royale and speculation was rife that they would soon be officially announced by EON. Ultimately, they were apparently deemed not 'macho' enough for the new Rambo approach to Bond and we got Chris Cornell croaking a song called 'You Know My Name' that was not amazingly impressive. 'Cornell seemed like an odd selection,' said this website when it was released. 'I had no idea who he was and his (ironically) titled song doesn't have the requisite darkness. It sounds like a b-side from some 1980's grunge act. Not in the least bit Bondian.'

Out of those acts yet to nab a Bond theme, the infamous retro British singer Amy Winehouse has probably been linked to the franchise more than any other person. Winehouse was reported to be recording the theme for Quantum of Solace in 2008 many times in the press but nothing transpired and her personal problems meant that it was Jack White and Alicia Keys who ended up with the task. Their effort has already gone down in history as one of the worst songs ever recorded for a film without anyone being arrested or charged. 'The composition isn't the best and the lyrics are laughable,' waffled this site back in 2008. 'Not that Bond lyrics were ever designed to be scrutinised too closely. There are a lot of strange noises going on in the song to no great effect and White and Keys don't really seem to be much in sync. It doesn't even sound as if they recorded the song together. Another Way To Die is also the second Bond theme in a row that sounds rather grunge and generic. It's all very disappointing, especially when one thinks of what the likes of Duffy, Muse or Amy Winehouse could have done.'

The 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies possibly holds some sort of record for having the most rejected theme songs submitted to it. Britpop veterans Pulp wrote a song called Tomorrow Never Lies (the original title of the film) but were turned down, as were Saint Etienne, Marc Almond, Swan Lee, The Cardigans and Liverpudlian rascals Space. In the end Sheryl Crow's rather bland effort was chosen with kd Lang's superior song 'Surrender' placed on the closing titles.
One person who was not (to the best of our knowledge) ever asked to do a theme but might possibly have been considered for commercial reasons is none other than Michael Jackson. It doesn't sound like the most obvious suggestion but when you consider that a-ha, Jack White and Duran Duran have all performed Bond themes and acts like Ace of Base (GoldenEye), Blondie (For Your Eyes Only) and Alice Cooper (The Man with the Golden Gun) were all seriously considered then Jackson doesn't sound like such an offbeat choice.

'We're now learning that the late King of Pop had an affinity for 007 himself,' said an article a few years ago. 'And according to legendary James Bond diva Shirley Bassey, Michael Jackson wanted to cover her rendition of Goldfinger, the title track from the James Bond film of the same name. Although Michael Jackson never had the opportunity to perform Goldfinger during a concert at London's O2 Arena, Shirley Bassey had grown close to Michael Jackson and actually looked forward to hearing the King of Pop perform her most famous of the three James Bond theme songs she provided for the legendary film franchise. "He loved Goldfinger and had said he wanted to do Goldfinger in his next show," revealed Bassey.'

In fairness to EON we must leave open the possibility that some of these dreadful recent themes are being foisted on them for commercial reasons. They don't have John Barry anymore either to lend a guiding hand. The next Bond film - should it ever arrive - is again likely to be lumbered with a song by whoever is in fashion at the time, even if they aren't a good match for Bond like White & Keys. Lady GaGa is the current leader in his speculation but wouldn't be an outrageous choice with a good song to work with. Other acts who have been linked to a Bond theme in the last few years are The Strokes, The Killers and Muse. Muse would probably be the best bet and both them and Duffy would be on our shortlist. Our source at EON says that a duet between Daniel Craig and Barbara Broccoli with Michael G Wilson on backing vocals is being seriously considered to save money but we hope it doesn't come to this.



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