12 Songs You Probably Didn't Realise Were Rejected James Bond Themes

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall Danjaq/Eon Productions/Kobal/Shutterstock

What’s a Bond movie without the perfect 007 theme song to go with it?

Adele, Sam Smith and Billie Eilish are just some of the stars that have performed unforgettable Bond songs to accompany the iconic movies in recent years.

But it came as a shock to fans last week to discover that Lana Del Rey had once written a song that was rejected by the legendary franchise.

The Grammy nominee revealed to the BBC that she had written her song 24 – from her album Honeymoon – for a Bond film, which would have been up for consideration around 2015’s Spectre.

The film was ultimately soundtracked by Sam Smith’s Writing’s On The Wall, which earned the British star an Oscar win.

But Lana’s not alone in writing a Bond theme that ultimately ended up not being chosen. Here are 11 more songs that were rejected by the spy franchise for one reason or another…

Johnny Cash – Thunderball (1965)

It’s hard to imagine an artist that could bring more of the dark, brooding intensity required for a Bond theme than Johnny Cash. But his 1965 song Thunderball, titled after the Sean Connery Bond film of the same name, was apparently no match for Tom Jones’ powerful pipes on his own version of Thunderball, which producers opted for in the end.

To be fair to the Welsh music legend, he really did give it his all.

“John [Barry, the song’s coposer] told me to hold on to this very high note for as long as possible,” he told The Mail On Sunday in 2011. “I hit it but I had to hold on to the wall of the sound booth to steady myself in case I fell down. Thank God, I didn’t. I knocked off the recording pretty quickly.”

The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)

In an attempt to bring a touch of sun-soaked California magic to the Bond universe, the classic American rock band’s instrumental title track from their classic 1966 album was full of signature Bond-esque production.

In Brian Wilson’s 2016 autobiography, he recalled being a big fan of Thunderball, which spurred him to write a theme originally titled Run James Run. However, Eon Productions decided to pass on the Beach Boys’ offering in favour of Nancy Sinatra’s You Only Live Twice for the Bond film of the same name, and Run James Run was retitled to Pet Sounds, winding up on the iconic album of the same name.

Blondie – For Your Eyes Only (1981)

The opening notes of For Your Eyes Only have Bond written all over them.

In fact, Blondie’s track was actually originally commissioned for the Roger Moore film of the same name, but disagreements arose when producers requested frontwoman Debbie Harry sing the track without her bandmates.

“We actually wrote a song, our own version, and submitted it,” Debbie said on the 2006 TV special James Bond’s Greatest Hits.

In the end, Sheena Easton wound up with the job of recording the title track to For Your Eyes Only when it hit cinemas in 1981.

Pet Shop Boys – This Must Be The Place I Waited Years To Leave (1987)

As the story goes, UK pop duo Pet Shop Boys weren’t exactly rejected for Bond, but rather overlooked.

When they learned they could be in contention to land a Bond theme they recorded a song with the film franchise in mind, but never got called up for the job. The track would have soundtracked The Living Daylights, Timothy Dalton’s first turn as 007, which ultimately went to Take On Me hitmakers A-Ha.

Pet Shop Boys then re-used the instrumental for This Must Be The Place I Waited Years To Leave from their 1990 album Behaviour, inspired by frontman Neil Tennant’s recurring nightmares about finding himself back at school.

Ace Of Base – The Juvenile (1995)

The 90s Swedish pop outfit were remarkably almost on the soundtrack to Pierce Brosnan’s Bond debut in GoldenEye.

After a six-year hiatus (the longest switch-over period between two 007s), apparently the band’s label Arista Records feared the franchise’s return wouldn’t be a success, and pulled Ace Of Base from the project. Oh how wrong they were, since the film went on to become the most successful Bond movie since 1979’s Moonraker.

Tina Turner stepped up to the challenge instead, singing her own version of Goldeneye, which was written by U2’s Bono and The Edge.

Meanwhile, Ace Of Base finally released their take on the film’s title track (replacing the word “goldeneye” with “juvenile”) on their 2002 album Da Capo.

Pulp – Tomorrow Never Lies (1997)

When Britpop legend Jarvis Cocker found out he was up against several other artists in an audition-type process for Tomorrow Never Dies, starring Pierce Brosnan, he gave it his best shot.

“It was weird. They set up a kind of American Idol situation, where they asked about nine different artists to come up with a Bond song,” the frontman once told Time Out. But the competition was evidently stiff. “They listen to nine different attempts of working ‘tomorrow never dies’ into a lyric. We were told on a Wednesday that the deadline was Friday. Consequently, I was really pissed off when they went with Sheryl Crow instead.”

Pulp’s offering, was eventually renamed and released as the B-side to their single Help The Aged.

Amy Winehouse – This Heart Can’t Break Twice (2008)

Amy Winehouse on stage at Glastonbury in 2008
Amy Winehouse on stage at Glastonbury in 2008 Jim Dyson via Getty Images

What we would’ve done to hear Amy Winehouse’s iconic vocals soundtrack a Bond movie.

Back in 2008, Mark Ronson told Sky News that he had begun working on a James Bond theme with Amy for Daniel Craig’s second outing as 007, Quantum Of Solace. However, he claimed it would take “some miracle of science” to finish it. At the time, Amy was struggling with drug addiction and had entered rehab that year.

Just last year, Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson said he actually had actually been in the same studio as Mark and Amy when they were recording the “magnificent” song, revealing it was titled This Heart Can’t Break Twice.

Although some material Amy had been working on prior to her death has been released posthumously, no parts of This Heart Can’t Break Twice have ever been made public.

Muse – Supremacy (2012)

In what could have been Muse’s most important contribution to cinema since Supermassive Black Hole in Twilight, the band’s 2012 industrial opera Supremacy certainty had the strings to qualify as a Bond song.

Around the release, drummer Dom Howard claimed back then that he thought it should be used for the next Bond, which, to be fair, isn’t exactly the most official way of putting yourself in the running. Producer Barbara Broccoli later confirmed that Adele’s Skyfall, for the film of the same name, had always been the team’s first choice.

Radiohead – Spectre (2015)

It turns out Lana wasn’t the only one vying for the honour of soundtracking Spectre. Radiohead first threw their hats into the ring with a song they’d written in the 90s called Man Of War, but this was rejected because it wasn’t written specifically for the film – meaning it couldn’t be in contention for an Oscar.

After that, they put their album A Moon Shaped Pool on hold to write the song Spectre, but apparently it was considered by the Bond team to be a bit too dark.

“It wasn’t right for the film, what we did,” guitarist Jonny Greenwood admitted to the BBC. “So we thought, ‘Great! Then it’s ours. We can finish it how it’s meant to be and we can release it.’ So that side of it was really positive, you know?”

They wound up releasing it as a charity song the same year, so fans were happy all the same.

Mark Ronson – No Time To Die (2021)

Having already tried to pen a Bond song once before with Amy Winehouse around 12 years prior, Mark Ronson released his demo for “the Bond song that never was” in 2020.

It was written with singer and songwriter Isley Juber for No Time To Die, but the honour ultimately went to BIllie Eilish.

The song was released as part of the new Good Music 2020 volume two compilation, available on Bandcamp for one day only, which raised money for Voting Rights Lab.

Ed Sheeran – No Time To Die (2021)

Ed Sheeran on stage in California
Ed Sheeran on stage in California Steve Jennings via Getty Images

Ed Sheeran has previously written cinematic songs for The Hobbit and Ted Lasso, but he couldn’t quite seal the deal when it came to Bond.

During an interview on That Peter Crouch Podcast in October 2022, the Grammy-winning singer revealed he was “within a fucking gnat’s pube” of writing a Bond song, and was “hurt” when producers went in a different direction, opting for Billie Eilish instead.

“They changed directors and then they just changed scripts, and that was it,” he added. “We’d done all the meetings, I started writing it.”

Billie went on to win an Oscar for her Bond theme in 2022, before scooping her second award for Best Original Song two years later for her Barbie cut What Was I Made For.

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