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Let’s see how different the experience of the opening title sequence would have been if the moviemakers had decided otherwise back then. | Photo: Ross Care
Let’s see how different the experience of the opening title sequence would have been if the moviemakers had decided otherwise back then. | Photo: Ross Care
Jan Hamerský -

10 Best Rejected Theme Songs for James Bond Movies

After a seemingly endless delay, No Time to Die—the latest Bond movie, starring Daniel Craig—finally premiered at the end of September. It gave me the idea to write an article about Bond songs never used by the producers for whatever reason. Let’s see how different the experience of the opening title sequence would have been if the moviemakers had decided otherwise back then. I have listed the songs chronologically from the oldest song to the newest.

1. Dionne Warwick: "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (Thunderball, 1965)

Nothing against Tom Jones. The Welsh tiger and another macho, Sean Connery, hit it off. But Thunderball is still largely set in the Caribbean, where a waft of black music, soul, and R&B would have been more appropriate. Like this song by a multiple Grammy winner and also a singer who holds a record in making Billboard magazine’s top 100 songs between 1962 and 1998—eighty times in total, including guest appearances.

2. Beach Boys: "You Only Live Twice" (1967)

Nancy Sinatra struggled a lot with the song “You Only Live Twice,” but the final version cut from about thirty attempts was worth it. Besides her, Aretha Franklin, and Julie Rogers, there was someone else in the game—a band that, on the other side of the Pacific, tapped into surf culture rather than Japanese culture.

3. Alice Cooper: "Man With the Golden Gun" (1974)

A renowned rock scarecrow and Bond movies? That kind of thing could have happened. And even a long time before the increasingly tired clown Roger Moore as Her Majesty’s secret agent was replaced by energetic, tough-yet-fragile character portrayed by Timothy Dalton. Unfortunately, John Barry changed his mind at the last minute and used this generic drivel instead.

4. Blondie: "For Your Eyes Only" (1981)

After the literally way-out Moonraker (1979), a cross between the Bond movies and Star Wars, the crew returned to Earth in the early 1980s to tell a dime-novel detective story. Someone from production suggested approaching Blondie, who had a reputation of being as funny and sarcastic as Roger Moore could be (when he was in the groove). Unfortunately, director John Glen was too much of a fuddy-duddy to appreciate the New York band that was in its heyday then.

5. Pet Shop Boys: "This Must Be the Place I Waited Years To Leave" (The Living Daylights, 1987)

The moviemakers approached Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe first. However, Pet Shop Boys ran a mile once they learned that only the title track was wanted from them, not the entire soundtrack. So Norwegian A-ha were given the opportunity. The result is fine, even though it doesn’t fit in so well with Timothy Dalton’s rather somber and torn Bond.

6. Pulp: "Tomorrow Never Lies" (Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997)

On Wednesday, the moviemakers approached nine different artists to compose something around the theme “Tomorrow Never Dies” by Friday. Those artists included Pulp, a British rock band that had been playing since 1978. The band had been trying to break through for almost fifteen years, and when it finally looked like they were going to make it, this attractive project was stolen from them by one Sheryl Crowe. Well. . . you'd be pissed off too, wouldn't you?

7. Straw: "The World Is Not Enough" (1999)

This band from the British isles played just for three years. The only album they released, Shoplifting, failed to live up to the typically exorbitant ambitions of Britpop, and they broke up when their label terminated their contract. But Straw did manage to succeed in something—composing an even more interesting opener than the one Garbage came up with in their prime. In the end, however, Garbage's version made the cut for this second Bond movie with the sweet Pierce Brosnan.

8. Red Flag: "Die Another Day" (2003)

None other than Madonna using autotune could have prepared the audience better for the torturous spectacle with an overabundance of hideous digital post-production and diamonds embedded in a face like pimples. The track composed for the movie by synthpop duo Red Flag was just too good for this movie.

9. Shirley Bassey: "No Good About Goodbye" (Quantum of Solace, 2008)

Quantum of Solace was shock therapy for die-hard Bondophiles. First, they got a duet by Jack White and Alicia Keys, in which overloaded guitar pickups struggle to find common ground with a sugary piano. Then they found out how Bond learned to abuse women. And it didn’t lift their spirits much to hear that the makers of the title sequence were close to using the above stylish song by the legendary Shirley Bassey.

10. Radiohead: Spectre (2015)

“Writing’s on the Wall” earned Sam Smith a Golden Globe and Oscar for best original song. Still, in his rendition the lines “How do I live? / How do I breathe? / When you’re not here I’m suffocating” sound as if the octopus from the opening titles was actually strangling him. Radiohead’s song was dumped, much to the regret of their fans as well as the director Sam Mendes, but it couldn’t be helped. The lyrics were supposedly too melancholy and would distract the audience too much.

Which single did you like the most? And which rejected gem is missing in this top 10? I'm looking forward to your comments.

Tagy top 10 James Bond rejected theme songs rejected movie themes movie theme songs Bond theme songs No Time To Die

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Jan Hamerský
Born in 1988. When he was fifteen and deciding what to do next, writing was the obvious choice. At nineteen, he changed his mind. It seemed to him that it is history that writes stories. Then he found out that history is written by winners—he joined the losers. He majored in h…