Whenever a new James Bond hits the silver screen, part of the excitement lays upon whichever artist that has been chosen to sing the new ‘classic’.
And while Sam Smith’s ‘Writing’s On The Wall’, is stirring both fury and happiness all around our fair planet, we take a look at some of the songs that could have been Bond classics.
‘Goldfinger’ is the first of three James Bond theme songs sung by Dame Shirley Bassey. The song was composed by John Barry with lyrics by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, and is widely acknowledged as a classic of its genre.
Originally, Newley recorded a version of the theme song, but it was later re-recorded with Bassey’s voice for the film. In 1992, Newley’s version was released for the 30th Anniversary of James Bond on film.
While there is no doubt that Shirley Bassey’s version is the best, Newley’s jazzy take on the song, is a must to check out.
The year after, Johnny Cash wrongly mistook Terence Young for Sergio Leone and submitted an awesome, Morricone-style, spaghetti western song for the next Bond picture titled, ‘Thunderball’, and probably wasn’t too surprised when it was rejected in favour of yet another John Barry composition, co-written by Don Black and sung by Tom Jones (who according to legend, fainted upon hitting the final titanic note of the song.)
Originally titled, ‘Run James Run’, Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson intended to use a new instrumental piece he’d been working on as the theme for a future Bond movie. Since that never happened, the track was renamed, ‘Pet Sounds’, which later also became the title of the album it appears on.
A decade later, Punk/New Wave, New Yorkers Blondie decided to give it a go and wrote a song entitled ‘For Your Eyes Only’ in the hope of making it the upcoming James Bond film’s opening-title theme, but the producers chose the Sheena Easton song of the same title, written by Bill Conti and Mike Leeson.
And yet another great Bond song, was born into obscurity and a long life in the shadow.
The list is long and cold, but one thing is for sure. Even if you’re the most famous person on the charts, getting your tune through the jaws of a chewing listening panel, is quite a mission.
In 2000, relatively unknown Danish pop group Swan Lee emerged out of nowhere with their very own version of ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’, which had been rejected a couple of years earlier by the industry people. This one, is probably the greatest Bond song that never was, because the song is the essence of a classic James Bond film and everything it stands for, and written by lifelong fans of the franchise, Pernille Rosendahl and Tim Christensen.
Pulp too, tried out for this one, but – along with Swan lee and many others, including The Cardigans – had to see themselves beaten by Sheryl Crow.
The list goes on and on and on…
Spectre, the latest Bond movie, starring Daniel Craig, is due to hit cinemas on 26 October, 2015.
Words: Anders Knudsen