The media’s recent obsession with Lady GaGa’s possible involvement with the next Bond theme raises the question: Is it just more wood for the pop fire or something to genuinely get excited about?
With the recent news that the ever entertaining Lady GaGa has been approached to write the theme for the latest James Bond theme, it would appear that the now legendary movie franchise which has spanned almost fifty years and has seen its own ups and downs, is branching into the most extreme end of popular music. However with a history as long and varied as the movies themselves, this latest foray of the Bond theme is merely another credible example of how the franchise is able to move and mould with the times that surround it.
Beginning in 1962 with the release of Dr No the James Bond franchise has become one of the most successful both in popularity and certainly financially in the history of cinema. It would seem that ever since Sean Connery donned the famous tuxedo back in the early sixties, the über male fantasy of sexual prowess, espionage and action have captured the very essence of what the public deems fit for cinematic consumption. It is therefore no doubt that with the latest release, one of the most popular questions asked is usually “Who is singing the theme song?” The song that accompanies the movie is normally a great indicator of how popular and memorable the movie will turn out to be. This however, is not always the case.
Although the inaugural movie did not feature a theme song per say, it did introduce the world to the wonderful “James Bond Theme” composed by Monty Norman, neither he nor the movie’s producers truly believing how popular the theme would become in the future. It would now seem that any reference to tactical espionage or smooth talking lotharios, the “James Bond Theme” is ever present, children humming and singing it to their heart’s content all across playgrounds. It was not until “From Russia With Love” from the movie of the same name did the world get introduced to the concept of an actual theme song for the Bond movie. Indeed Matt Monroe’s booming vocals would set the trend for the remainder of the sixties theme songs as being large, orchestral, diva esque numbers with the likes of Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones and Nancy Sinatra all lending their voices to the ever growing franchise.
With the advent of Sean Connery’s departure from the role for a second time, he briefly left and was replaced by the awful George Lazenby before returning for Diamonds are Forever, the sixties ended and a new man was introduced in the title role, Roger Moore. Moore’s tenure started with the vastly entertaining and immediate box office smash Live and Let Die but it would be the theme that would signify the biggest change in the history of the Bond Themes. Released in 1973, “Live and Let Die” was performed by Paul McCartney and Wings, an interesting change of direction by the producers considering their previous big voice, big number artists chosen before. However, the gamble more than paid off by hiring a popular artists as the song was an instant hit and immediately entered McCartney’s live set lists and remains a firm fan favourite even today.
The most enduring aspect of “Live and Let Die” was the legacy it would create for the Bond theme. Although not completely adverse to employing popular artists of the music era, this theme proved that the very hottest acts of the time were more than capable of delivering stand up movie soundtracks, intelligently fusing two massively financial industries together in one happy hybrid, music and cinema. For the remainder of Moore’s reign and through Timothy Dalton’s two movies, acts such as Carly Simon, A-Ha, Sheena Easton and Duran Duran all leant their talents to the movies. Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” remains to this day the only bond theme to reach number one in the singles charts.
With the announcement of Pierce Brosnan taking over the role after a lengthy hiatus in 1995, the new producers once again sought to re-invent the franchise for the 90s. Tina Turner was therefore selected to take the theme back to its more colossal, big band themed roots with “Goldeneye”, the lyrics and music provided by U2’s Bono and The Edge. Sheryl Crow attempted with her follow up “Tomorrow Never Dies” as did Garbage and the less said about Madonna’s electro/house funk theme probably the better. Which neatly brings the franchise up to date with modern times.
Daniel Craig’s harder edged, faced and acting Bond required a theme song that would perfectly match the character. Therefore the pseudo big band themes were ousted and in came hard rocker Chris Cornell, formerly of Audioslave and Soundgarden. His theme “You Know My Name” from the movie Casino Royale proved to be popular amongst long-term fans of both the franchise and the artist, his smoothened screech perfectly duelling against the slide and snap of the amplified electric guitar. Jack White and Alicia Keys sang “Another Way to Die” a less than perfect follow up to Cornell and will only really be remembered as being the first duet Bond Theme. The movie, Quantum of Solace, almost as forgettable as the song.
The history of the Bond Theme is a long and storied one and also something that has seeped into the popular culture unlike anything else in the past fifty years. Needless to say there are always huge rumours circulating around the media in regards as to who may score the big gig, Amy Whitehouse and Michael Bublé constantly rumoured, it would not be far fetched to take the latest Lady GaGa stories with a pinch of salt. However, if Miss Germanotta were to land the contract then with her past track record for entertaining numbers, excellent vocal ability and fascinating songwriting, her popularity would be cemented and she would have achieved what many merely dream of.
For all of the latest news check out the James Bond official website along with individual artists’ own personal web pages: http://www.007.com, http://www.ladygaga.com, http://www.dameshirleybassey.com, http://www.paulmccartney.com, http://www.duranduran.com, http://www.tinaturnerlive.com, http://www.chriscornell.com, http://www.whitestripes.com, http://www.aliciakeys.com