Sam Smith to help James Bond chat up girls
Sam Smith will be serenading James Bond’s women in Spectre, the upcoming blockbuster in the unstoppable 007 franchise, with his brand-new song, Writing’s On The Wall.
Speculations and rumours of who would be contributing the theme tune to Spectre, starring Daniel Craig as James Bond, have been making the news across the web over the past couple of days and weeks.
This week it was finally revealed that Britain’s rising star and multiple Grammy Awards-winner, Sam Smith scooped the gig.
Congratulations, Sam Smith! I couldn’t think of any other worthy contemporary singer who can fill these big boots.
The Bond bloodline: From Shirley Bassey to Sam Smith
Ever since the first James Bond film, Dr No aka the Best Bond, its theme tunes have always been big news with some having gone down in music history and became classics alongside the ever-growing list of Bond’s leading ladies, the villains and the genteel group of Bond actors.
Join me on a stroll down memory lane with some of my personal best and worst Bond tunes.
Underneath The Mango Tree (Dr. No) by Diana Coupland (1962)
Not really a James Bond theme tune but who can forget the famous island beach scene in Dr No, the first-ever 007 film, where James Bond (Sean Connery) meets Honey Rider (Ursula Andress).
The two briefly sing this sweet, not very known tune, Underneath The Mango Tree, by Diana Coupland.
It might shock fans of the song to hear this but Coupland, despite her faux-Jamaican accent in the song, is a British-born actress best known for her appearance in the 70’s TV series Bless This House and, more recently, Eastenders. Puff! There goes a dream. Sorry, guys.
Watch the famous beach scene with Diana Coupland’s original recording of Underneath The Mango Tree
Goldfinger by Shirley Bassey (1964)
The craze really kicked in with the release of 1964’s Goldfinger and its same-titled theme song sung by the excellent Shirley Bassey. Her sultry delivery and the song’s opulent orchestration made it an instant classic that many consider THE James Bond song.
Don’t fix what’s not broke and the producers called Shirley Bassey back for two more songs; Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and Moonraker (1979).
Watch this theatrical live performance of Goldfinger by Dame Shirley Bassey in 1974
Live And Let Die by Paul McCartney & The Wings (1973)
Former Beatle Paul McCartney contributed the insane bombast composition of Live and Let Die with his band The Wings in 1973. Arguably one of Macca’s best post-Beatles compositions.
Live and Let Die has been covered numerous of times. The most famous being Guns n’ Roses interpretation but no one can touch the original.
Watch Paul McCartney performs Live and Let Die
The Man With The Golden Gun by Lulu (1974)
How can you follow-up a track written by a Beatle? Well, turns out you can’t.
John Barry wrote The Man With The Golden Gun for Lulu but sadly it not only turned out to be a pale imitation of Goldfinger sans Bassey’s grit but the song also has some terrible, ambiguous lyrics you could’ve only gotten away with in the 70’s for a James Bond movie.
“Love is required whenever he’s hired,
It comes just before the kill.
Who will he bang?
We shall see, oh yeah.” – The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)
It’s not Dylan or Lennon, is it? Musically not bad but boy, those lyrics are cringe. Poor Lulu.
A View To A Kill by Duran Duran (1985)
With the arrival of the 80’s James Bond was in need to rejuvenate. The British playboy spy joined the Blitz Kids, got a New Wave (not literally) and chased Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) up the Paris Eiffel Tower to the orchestral synth stabs of Duran Duran’s A View To A Kill.
It’s a killer tune that would signal a brief change to a lighter, poppier Bond sound. Duran Duran’s video represents the decade brilliantly. Note the appearance of the Sony Walkman, a lot of mullets, shoulder pads, ridiculous video animation and after all those years, I’m still chuckling over “My name is Bon, Simon Le Bon”. Awe, the 80’s…
Watch Duran Duran’s video to A View To A Kill
The Living Daylight by A-Ha (1987)
Towards the turn of the 80’s Timothy Dalton took over from Roger Moore as Her Majesty’s favourite secret agent in 1987’s The Living Daylight. Sweden’s pretty boys A-Ha contributed the now slightly overlooked The Living Daylight.
27 years on and Jason Corsaro’s production (Madonna, Duran Duran) sounds terribly dated which is a bit of a shame as the song is actually pretty good and Morten Harket’s voice beautifully ethereal as ever.
Watch A-Ha’s video to The Living Daylight
Golden Eye by Tina Turner (1995)
Bond had gone too pop and it was time to reconnect with its golden era of big voices and even bigger orchestration. Queue: Golden Eye.
If there ever was a singer with the perfect voice to deliver a Bond theme it was Tina Turner and in 1995 the R&B star got her moment with Golden Eye.
The song Golden Eye is huge. In fact, it’s so huge it could have been Q’s latest secret weapon to pacify the world: Aural warfare.
The composers behind this mighty mother of a tune were no other than U2’s Bono and The Edge. Both were big fans of Tina Turner and custom-wrote Golden Eye for Tina. And the song fits her like a tight glove.
Tina’s final version is widely known. Lesser known is Bono and The Edge’s home demo version sent to Tina’s record company on which Bono attempts to sing like Tina Turner by becoming his alter ego Mr MacPhisto. A treat!
Listen to Bono and The Edge’s home demo for Golden Eye
Skyfall by Adele (2012)
This list wouldn’t be complete without Adele’s Skyfall. Produced by Paul Epworth, Skyfall was released to the world in 2012 and signalled a brief return to the spotlight for the reclusive vocal talent.
The song has all the hallmarks of a great James Bond song but its Adele’s mesmerising voice and that special delivery that makes this late addition to the 007 song list one of the best.
Watch Adele performing Skyfall live during the 2013 Oscars
Writing’s On The Wall (Spectre) by Sam Smith (2015)
So, here we are in 2015 and it’s Sam Smith’s turn with Writing’s On The Wall for Spectre.
Carrying on the iconic British spy agent legacy, the 23-year-old, quiffed singer reveals he had been on a top-secret mission of his own while recording Writing’s On The Wall back in January.
In the day and age where songs leak online, keeping a secret of those proportions under wraps for eight months is indeed an achievement by Sam Smith and his crew.
The title song was co-written by Sam Smith and his fellow Grammy Award winning songsmith Jimmy Napes, who previously worked with Sam on his hits, Stay With Me and La La La.
Writing is on the Wall will be released as a single on 25 September, ahead of the film’s UK premiere the following month on 26 October. US Bond fans will have to wait a few more days until 6 November.
What’s your favourite – or least favourite – James Bond theme song? Share your thoughts in the comments section.