No License to Lana: The rejected James Bond songs through the years

No License to Lana: The rejected James Bond songs through the years

Lana Del Rey recently shared that she wrote a song for a James Bond film, and she was rejected by the 007 producers.

Speaking while attending the Ivor Novello Awards in London, the singer admitted that one of her tracks, ‘24’, from her 2015 album ‘Honeymoon’, was written for the fourth Bond film Spectre.

In the end, it was Sam Smith’s song, 'Writing’s On the Wall', that was selected for the film – a song which would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2016.

“I mean, how has that not happened yet?” Del Rey replied when asked by BBC if she would consider writing a theme song for the franchise.

“One day, maybe … But I’m going to continue to do my little Nancy Sinatra thing every now and then and just pretend it’s the title track.”

Award-winning British artist RAYE, who won songwriter of the year at the Ivor Novellos, was shocked by Del Rey's revelation.

“I can't believe she would have been rejected by them, because she just has the perfect energy for it,” RAYE said. “I feel like she would eat that up – and I feel like that should happen in the future.”

Del Rey is in good company, however. Join us as we take a trip back through the Bond timeline and pick out the 10 Bond themes that never were.

Johnny Cash - Thunderball

Which film? Thunderball (1965), Sean Connery’s fourth outing as 007.

Song chosen: Tom Jones - 'Thunderball'

There was a lot to live up to with Thunderball, as Goldfinger was such a huge box office success and is still seen as the franchise-defining film. Plus, after Shirley Bassey’s bombastic theme song, a high bar had been set. Producers ended up going for Welsh crooner Tom Jones, but the alternative could have been Johnny Cash. The Man In Black’s track has the typical country feel you’d expect, with a galloping pace that could have been an interesting choice. Maybe a Western sound isn’t very Bond though... Other options included Shirley Bassey’s ‘Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ and Dionne Warwick – both of which would have been far better than Mr. Jones.

Alice Cooper – The Man With The Golden Gun

Which film? The Man With The Golden Gun (1974), Roger Moore’s second 007 film.

Song chosen: Lulu – 'The Man With The Golden Gun'

Yep, we were denied legendary shock rocker Alice Cooper belting out a Bond track. It could have been a distinct break from past vocal performances, and rumour is that Cooper delivered the song a day too late for it to be in the running. Producers ended up choosing the safe bet with Lulu - a song which Bond composer John Barry was not a fan of. Still, at least Barry found solace when Cooper included his Bond theme on the album ‘Muscle of Love’.

Blondie – For Your Eyes Only

Which film? For Your Eyes Only (1981), one of Roger Moore’s most underrated takes as 007.

Song chosen: Sheena Easton - 'For Your Eyes Only'

This synth-pop track was originally commissioned for the film, but instead ended up appearing on the US band’s album 'The Hunter' in 1982. Singer Debbie Harry apparently pulled out of For Your Eyes Only after the producers suggested she drop the rest of her bandmates to perform the track with composer Bill Conti. Good on her, but shame, as Blondie’s track is far superior to Easton’s already decent theme song.

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

Which film? The Living Daylights (1987), Timothy Dalton’s first time in the tux, in one of the best Bond movies.

Song chosen: A-Ha – 'The Living Daylights'

Iconic English synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys recorded a somber track for their theme submission, one which gelled well with the movie’s themes of betrayal and the overall tonal shift from Roger Moore’s campy tenure to Dalton’s grittier take on Bond. In the end, the honour went to Norwegian pop outfit A-Ha, who understood the assignment. Their song ‘The Living Daylights’ is a banger, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ace of Base – The Goldeneye

Which film? Goldeneye (1995), Pierce Brosnan’s Bond debut.

Song chosen: Tina Turner - 'Goldeneye'

After a six-year hiatus, the Bond series returned to the screen in 1995, and producers needed to remind audiences what they had missed. Mission accomplished, as Tina Turner’s 'Goldeneye' was a terrific callback to the Bassey days. However, Europop band Ace of Base was in talks to feature, with their song ‘The Goldeneye’. The band’s entry was withdrawn by their record label Arista Records, as they believed the series was doomed to fail after the lengthy hiatus. Probably for the best, as their kitschy pop was very 90s, but hardly a patch on Turner’s tune. Ace of Base later released the song in 2002 as ‘The Juvenile’ - which is the exact same track, only with “goldeneye” swapped for “juvenile”.

Pulp – Tomorrow Never Lies

Which film? Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Brosnan’s second Martini-swigging stint.

Song chosen: Sheryl Crow - 'Tomorrow Never Dies'

Britpop Bond? It was not to be, as Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker was reportedly booted off the project, and wasn’t the only one. The Cardigans, Soft Cell’s Marc Almond, Saint Etienne and even Duran Duran, who would’ve returned to Bond soundtracking after having successfully nabbed the title theme for 1985’s A View to a Kill, were all considered and then rejected in favour of Sheryl Crow. Her moody ballad is a fine addition to the Bond themes, and Tomorrow Never Dies audiences were even treated to two-for-the-price-of-one, as k.d. lang’s ‘Surrender’ was saved from the opening rejects and relegated to the end credits. Hardly the same prestige, though.

Eurythmics - I Saved the World Today

Which film? The World Is Not Enough (1999)

Song chosen: Garbage - 'The World Is Not Enough'

This synth pop single from Eurythmics would have been perfection for Bond. No shade to Garbage, but Annie Lennox was robbed. The song made it onto the band’s eighth studio album, 'Peace'; and in 2011, Daniel Craig and Judi Dench appeared as their Bond characters in a campaign by Lennox’s charity group Equals, to raise awareness of gender inequality for International Women’s Day. So that’s something.

Shirley Bassey – No Good About Goodbye

Which film? Quantum of Solace (2008), Daniel Craig’s disappointing follow up to Casino Royale – mostly because of the epileptic editing.

Song chosen: Jack White and Alicia Keys - 'Another Way To Die'

Jack White and Alicia Keys’ 'Another Way to Die' is a divisive theme song, clearly one chosen to echo the same rock feel established by Chris Cornell with Casino Royale ’s theme song ‘You Know My Name’. The odd couple was not the producers’ first pick though; Amy Winehouse was the original choice. That never came to pass because of Winehouse’s fragile state, and a late contender was the return of Shirley Bassey. According to composer David Arnold, the song wasn’t finished in time, so audiences were robbed of hearing another retro belter from Bassey.

Muse – Supremacy

Which film? Skyfall (2012)

Song chosen: Adele – 'Skyfall'

Operatic rock band Muse tried very hard to get this dramatic Bond-esque song to be Skyfall ’s theme tune. It would have worked, but it’s hard to find anyone who would argue that Adele’s soulful (and Oscar-winning) song didn’t deserve it.

Radiohead – Spectre

Which film? Spectre (2015), further proving that odd-numbered Craig outings are a bit rubbish.

Song chosen: Sam Smith - 'Writing’s on the Wall'

A head scratcher this one. Radiohead submitted this track for Spectre, but the producers felt it was “too dark” and too "melancholy" for the title sequence, and instead chose Sam Smith’s rather dreary 'Writing's on the Wall'. A real shame, as the song fits perfectly. Radiohead later gave away their song as a free download on Christmas Day, and you can find it as a bonus track on the band’s 2016 album ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’.

There we have it. Which song shouldn't have been rejected, and is anyone thinking that RAYE could and should be considered for the next Bond theme? She's got our vote.