LONDON, UK: Music industry wunderkind Billie Eilish has released the theme song to the next James Bond movie, “No Time to Die“. An ethereal, driven song that rises to orchestral heights, it caps a year of triumph for the multi-Grammy-winning singer and her co-writer, producer, and older brother, Finneas O’Connell. Eilish is the youngest artist to lend her talents to the Bond franchise.
Billie Eilish: No Time to Die
Eilish joins the great artists through the decades who have made their James Bond themes a career milestone, a honor that says that they have arrived. Remember at 18, Eilish is a five-year music veteran.
Shirley Bassey: Goldfinger
The half-life of Bond film themes is as short as the careers of past Bond song singers. Its a high bar. Whether their songs become as instantly recognizable as Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger” is unlikely. Nothing has come close to this stirring anthem that was #1 on the Billboard charts at the height of the Sean Connery era of James Bond.
The real James Bond Theme: Dr. No
The theme from the opening credits of the first James Bond film, Dr. No, is actually what most moviegoers immediately attach to the Bond franchise. The James Bond Theme is the main signature theme of the series and is featured in every EON Productions 007 film since Dr. No in various versions. The piece often accompanies a gun barrel sequence. For music nerds, the song is set in the key of F, with a B flat.
The James Bond Theme has accompanied the opening titles twice, as part of the medley that opens Dr. No and then again in the opening credits of From Russia with Love. It has been used as music over the end credits for Dr. No, Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The World Is Not Enough, Casino Royale, and Quantum of Solace.
Composer Monty Norman has been credited with writing the song and he has received royalties since 1962, although producers had his arrangement rearranged by John Barry. Thus, a debate rages on about who is the true composer of the theme.
In the made-for-DVD documentary Inside Dr. No, Norman performs a piece of music he wrote for the stage several years earlier entitled Bad Sign, Good Sign, that resembles the melody of the “James Bond Theme” in several places.
The song uses a surf rock style guitar riff, as the genre was a craze in the early 1960s. Henry Mancini composed the theme song which becomes an instant earworm for fans when they hear, Bond, James Bond. This memorable bit of music is used over the opening credits from the very first James Bond film Dr. No.
Following is a montage of James Bond theme songs.
Not that other Bond films didn’t have hits songs. It is just that they weren’t as transcendent.
Nancy Sinatra sang the theme for “You Only Live Twice” in 1965. Shirley Bassey comes back and had a hit with “Diamonds are Forever”.
Paul McCartney had a big hit with the less than memorable “Live and Let Die”, as dreadful a song as it was a movie title.
Not every Bond song was a memorable hit
Carly Simon had a minor hit with “The Spy Who Loved Me”. But Sheena Easton’s “For Your Eyes Only”, Duran Duran’s “View to a Kill”, Aha’s “The Living Daylights”, and even Tina Turners “GoldenEye” are as forgettable as some of the Bond films they score.
Sheryl Crowe couldn’t breathe any life into “Tomorrow Never Dies”. Butch Vig, Shirley Manson, and Garbage couldn’t save “The World is Not Enough”. The late Chris Cornell did his wailing rock best on Casino Royale.
Jack White wrote a great song for Quantum of Silence with Alicia Keyes, but I would defy you to hum the melody. Adele managed a hit and a Grammy for Skyfall.
Eilish. Billie Eilish.
James Bond returns in No Time to Die, with the remarkable Daniel Craig in the lead role for the last time. The film will release this April.
Billie Eilish is a Millenial YouTube sensation who found her audience on YouTube with her hit Ocean Eyes, written by her brother. Eilish as 13 years old at the time of this recording:
The artist is called evocative, mesmerizing, haunting, funky and mysterious. Eilish’s picked up four Grammy awards. When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? for Best Pop Vocal Album. And Best New Artist, Album of the Year for When We All Fall Asleep., Also winning in the for Record and Song of the Year category for “Bad Guy.”
On top of all that, her brother/producer, Finneas, picked won a Grammy for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical.
The No Time to Die theme songs haunting melody opens against the minimalist instrumental accompaniment. It will be either loved or hated, by James Bond fans. It is familiar to Adele’s Skyfall in its composure.
With her breathy voice, the song lacks the immediately memorable hooks of past Bond hits, including the Norman/Mancini theme or Shirley Bassey’s Goldfinger. However, listening closely, you can hear snippets of past Bond themes throughout, though the song is definitely all Eilish and Eilish is not creating for a boomer audience that grew up with various Bond movies, of which there are 22.
The artist was born in 2001, meaning she probably watched the Bond films on YouTube over any other medium.
No Time to Die
Fans of Ellish will appreciate the haunting crescendo that builds, with the instruments, until the chorus:
“That I’d fallen for a lie
You were never on my side
Fool me once, fool me twice
Are you death or paradise?
Now you’ll never see me cry
There’s just no time to die”
Possessed with a sophisticated grace, Eilish is pulling off the most audacious entrance into the celebrity stratosphere in years. Now she scores the theme to the last Daniel Craig era James Bond film.