I am writing this article because I’m really pissed off. Bond theme music holds a very special place in my heart, due to my beloved copy of “The James Bond Thrillers” on vinyl, and my insistence on blaring the Goldfinger theme at full volume whenever I get too drunk at my own house parties.
DEAL WITH IT – Photo by Me
I’m sorry, but the truth is, the franchise failed to deliver on the soon to be released Bond installment Spectre. “Writing’s On the Wall”, performed by Sam Smith and co-written with Jimmy Napes, is a depressing ballad you might expect to hear on your local adult-contemporary radio station. I am not claiming every theme has been gold. Were Madonna’s “Die Another Day” or Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name” my favorites? Of course not. At least both brought a sense of danger and suspense that is blatantly missing from Smith’s attempt. Adele’s “Skyfall” from the previous flick is proof that a power-pop ballad can enchant audiences and lure the viewers into a world that is uniquely Bond-esque. The main problem I have is that the 007 filmmakers have had enough time, over 50 years, to figure out what works and what does not.
In an attempt to heal the bullet-hole Sam Smith fired into my soul, I have compiled a list of bands that I believe would craft a superior Bond theme song. The defining characteristics I searched for include: Dark, dramatic, sneaky, sexy, playful, and glamorous. I understand most of the opening songs are performed by well-known pop singers (with the exception of Garbage, Paul McCartney and a few others). However, the words “SPY MUSIC” have crossed my mind whilst listening to all of these acts. Also, I believe each respective group to have to capability of performing with strings and brass sections, often requirements to fulfill this godly role. Better luck next time 007.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Image via Salt Artists
BRMC are considered underground heroes in some circles. After seven albums, they have been anointed and crowned in the garage rock world. The California 4-piece certainly has the energy to score Bond’s shootouts and intimate encounters. In fact, “War Machine” was included on the Need for Speed: The Run soundtrack in 2011, proving that their sultry rock and roll is meant for adredaline laced racing down the highway. Scale down the vocal haze on “Weapon of Choice” off of Baby 81, and you have the track for a bad-ass opening sequence. Bond’s weapon of choice is a Walther PPK.
The Last Shadow Puppets
Image via Neverending Games
The collaborative work of Arctic Monkeys singer/guitarist/heartthrob Alex Turner, Miles Kane and Simian Mobile Disco drummer James Ford is reminiscent of the symphonies sprinkled throughout the Bond realm. The intro on “In My Room”, off of their only release to date The Age of the Understatement, is lush with a tense string section, and that intensity builds over the course of the song. “Calm Like You” is also giving off some 60’s vibes. The group is rumored to be working on the follow-up to their chart-topping debut, and certainly a song appearance in the next Bond film would be fitting for the British musicians.
Image via Kreedle
A Massive Attack creation opening a Bond film would certainly be the most adventurous in the history of the franchise. NO ONE can do dark and mysterious like the iconic experimental twosome. It would be interesting to see a 007 theme toy with hip-hop/electronic in an opening sequence, something that hasn’t ever been done before. I could name quite a few tracks by the Bristol, England artists that inspire thoughts of codenames and the Secret Service. Perhaps the one that sticks out most in my mind is “Inertia Creeps” off of 1998’s Mezzanine. The hypnotic Balkan beat gives it an exotic feel, complementing James Bond’s tendency to travel to faraway lands.
Queens of the Stone Age
Image via Juice
This may be the only group realistically posed to take on the challenge of writing for a Bond film due to their success and popularity. Frontman Josh Homme has been a force in the music industry for two decades, even working with former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones with his side project Them Crooked Vultures. It is easy for me to picture the group recording with a full orchestra and making a swanky rock opera masterpiece. One thing crucial to working for M16: being able to keep secrets.”The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret” from Rated R has that covered, as well as some sassy ladies in the video who could easily pass for Bond girls. “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” gets an honorable mention as well, for being Queens hymnal piano-ballad on their latest album …Like Clockwork.
Much of early Bond music was done in the style of surf-rock, which was extremely popular when the first films were released. I thought it fitting to include a band that could pay homage to that without being too campy. LA based garage psych groovers Allah-Lahs have a few tricks up their sleeve. The slick, mod instrumental songs “Sacred Sands” and “Ferus Gallery” would be a hit for those famous Bond love romps. Their sun soaked cover “Long Journey” (originally by 60’s group The Roots) showcases the band’s penchant for retro ear candy and documents the journey of the restless soul. I think Allah Lahs’ sound could fit past and present 007 features.
Spectre, starring Daniel Craig as James Bond, opens in US theaters Friday, Nov. 6th. If you don’t get too depressed or bored during the opening sequence, enjoy the film as it will be Craig’s last stint as the super-spy.