by Brian Boyd
THE PEOPLE BEHIND the new James Bond film were desperate to break a miserable chart record and get this current 007 theme song to number one in the singles chart — something that’s never happened before despite flinging some of the biggest names in music at the task. Adele was called up this time out and even she couldn’t manage it with her Skyfall theme stalling at number two.
It’s almost quaint that there is still quite a bit of interest in the Bond theme. For a certain generation, it’s Shirley Bassey or nothing (where my loyalties lie) but interfering “modernists” in the Bond production team are insistent that the theme song should reflect today’s musical sensibilities.
The big musical change for Bond came with 1999’s The World Is Not Enough when alt-rockers Garbage were drafted in an attempt to keep it all relevant for the young people. All very well, but Shirley Manson is no Shirley Bassey in the vocal department.
Madonna did the honours for Die Another Day in 2002 but her song – a sorry attempt at “Electroclash” was generally considered to be “pneumatic and hook-deficient”.
Surprisingly, Chris Cornell – ex of grunge band Soundgarden – got the nod for Casino Royale, despite the fact that the majority of Bond cinema-goers would have had no idea who he was,
and for Quantum of Solace Jack White was drafted in – and despite the quality of the song, that was the most inorganic coupling of them all.
Where Radiohead were in all this “keep it real for the kidz” is anyone’s guess. Thom Yorke had already shown himself to be a knowledgeable Bond theme music fan when he opined that Nobody Does It Better from The Spy Who Loved Me film was “the sexiest song ever written”. And Radiohead’s cover of the song is far better than you would imagine.
It’s a little-aired fact that the Bond theme is madly sought after by bands and actively canvassed for. Johnny Cash was a huge Bond music fan and his Thunderball song (you’ll get it on YouTube) was a certainty until he was unceremoniously replaced with Tom Jones.
Alice Cooper wanted it so much he sent in a song for The Man With The Golden Gun on spec but he was turned down in favour of Lulu (of all people). And don’t mention Bond to Debbie Harry. She was lined up to sing the theme for For Your Eyes Only but walked when it turned out she couldn’t use a new Blondie song but had to sing an already- composed Bill Conti song.
Harry was replaced by Sheena Easton.
The Pet Shop Boys were bumped at the last minute by A-Ha for The Living Daylights and Eric Clapton lost out to Gladys Knight for Licence To Kill.
Still kicking themselves are Ace of Base who were chosen for Goldeneye but pulled out fearing the film would be a flop. Bono and The Edge were drafted in to write a song for Tina Turner instead.
The worst ever Bond music decision, though, was for the Tomorrow Never Dies film. Saint Etienne (who would have been perfect) were asked to submit a song, as were Pulp, but the job eventually went to Sheryl Crow who was considered a bigger name.
Apparently, Pierce Brosnan still has the master tape of the Saint Etienne song he loved it so much. And Amy Winehouse was supposed to have done Quantum of Solace but that never came off on time.
Just days before Adele released Skyfall a chart emerged of all the Bond theme songs based on the number of plays they have had on TV, radio and the internet. Live and Let Die was at number one, but it was good to see La Bassey at both number two (Goldfinger) and number five (Diamonds are Forever).
Meanwhile, the quest for a number one Bond song remains. It’s Rihanna for the next film, one suspects.
Copyright 2012 U2 France / http://www.u2france.com/actu