alternative bond themes
Like most people, I love a good Bond film, and a good Bond theme to go with it. I’ve often found myself slightly disappointed by the choices and the execution though. I mean, these slots are an opportunity to make songs part of cinematic and cultural history. A Bond theme is proper ‘event’ music. I can’t help feeling that the more recent shift in policy by the film producers, to go with the artist of the moment, has resulted in rather forgettable themes by the likes of Sam Smith, Jack White and Chris Cornell (RIP god rest his soul). Out of the past say, seven films (since Goldeneye) there has been only one great song: Skyfall, by Adele. Even then, was Skyfall a Bond classic in the mould of Moonraker or Diamonds Are Forever? I’m just not sure.
Of course, you can feel like an armchair football manager with something like this — it’s probably a lot harder than it looks. I’ve voted for Radiohead in the past, and as it turned out, their theme for Spectre didn’t pass muster (mmm. Was it not commercial enough?) and was swapped out for Smith’s rather flimsy ‘Writing On The Wall’.
There’s a whole year to go to the next Bond (25) and proceedings have been slowed down by Danny Boyle’s walk out (boo!). Again the choice for the song appears to have gone to the artist du jour: Dua Lipa. That’s if the rumours are true. That said, Dua is a wonderful songmaker, so she is more than capable of producing something worthy. But are the film’s producers deaf? Have they not heard of Arctic Monkeys, Lana Del Rey or Bjork? And since Dame Shirley Bassey got two cracks at it, why not invite Duran Duran back, since they laid down probably the best example of the genre with A View To A Kill (come on, it’s innovative and dramatic, and original).
Still it’s a free world, and thanks to playlisting we can all have a go — here’s mine. It features Duran Duran’s finest B-side, Secret Oktober, Bjork’s incredibly cinematic Hunter and Lana Del Rey’s supremely urbane Million Dollar Man. If I was to choose, I would commission Alex Turner & company, I just think they would smash it. And they could not be a more British choice in a way.
Alternative Bond Themes features lesser known gems: Goldfrapp’s Stranger, Anna Calvi’s superbly Bondish Swimming Pool, and Hatty Keane’s Pointless. Check them out on your way to your next mission. Be brutal and unforgiving. And never order your vodka martini stirred.
Playback notes: If there is a way to enjoy the playlist, then it is to accompany it with a Vesper Martini. This is a Bond original recipe of course, very specifically ordered in the 1953 Ian Fleming novel Casino Royale, and superbly rendered in the Daniel Craig film version. We’re not endorsing brands here, but it was three parts Gordon’s for Bond (it was after all 50 years before the boom in artisan gins) augmented by one part vodka, and one part Lillet vermouth. As advised by Bond, if concentrating make it just the one. But to enjoy the playlist to the full, double or quits. Your move…