All the rejected James Bond themes, from Blondie to Pet Shop Boys

1 October 2021, 10:14

Johnny Cash, Blondie and Pet Shop Boys had Bond songs rejected
Johnny Cash, Blondie and Pet Shop Boys had Bond songs rejected. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

We may know and love the James Bond themes over the years, but they weren't always the first choice to bring in each new 007 adventure.

On several occasions, various artists were rejected from being granted the next Bond film's theme, for one reason or another.

Read more: All 24 Bond themes, ranked from worst to best

We've gone through all the Bond movies to discover how many tracks were so close to becoming part of the iconic list of Bond themes, and whether they would have been better than what was selected instead.

  1. Johnny Cash - 'Thunderball'

    Johnny Cash - Thunderball

    Yes, we could have lived in a world where country legend Johnny Cash recorded a Bond theme.

    In the end, producers chose (and correctly, it has to be said) Tom Jones's bombastic song that felt a lot more Bond.

  2. Dionne Warwick / Shirley Bassey - 'Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' (Thunderball)

    John Barry ~ Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - Dionne Warwick

    Before Tom Jones was chosen for the title track of this Sean Connery classic, the title song was called 'Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang', and was sung by Dionne Warwick.

    When there were concerns about Warwick's delivery, it was later re-recorded by Shirley Bassey. However, both versions were not released until the 1990s.

    The song was removed after United Artists requested that the theme song contain the film's title in its lyrics. When it was planned to use the Warwick version in the end titles, Shirley Bassey sued the producers, leading to neither version being heard.

    Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - Shirley Bassey - Thunderball

  3. Julie Rogers / Lorraine Chandler - 'You Only Live Twice'

    John Barry ~ You Only Live Twice (Demo Version)

    Nancy Sinatra eventually recorded the classic theme for this Connery Bond movie, but there was originally a totally different song with the same name.

    English singer Julie Rogers was asked to perform the Oriental-sounding song. Soul singer Lorraine Chandler also recorded a Shirley Bassey-style version that was also rather different than the other two.

    Lorraine Chandler - You Only Live Twice

    John Barry later said: "It was usually the producers that said 'this isn't working, there's a certain something that it needed'. If that energy wasn't there, if that mysterioso kind of thing wasn't there, then it wasn't going to work for the movie."

    When Frank Sinatra was touted as a potential performer, the legendary crooner suggested his daughter instead.

  4. Alice Cooper - 'The Man with the Golden Gun'

    Man with the Golden Gun

    As Bond entered the glam rock era, Alice Cooper came very close to securing the Roger Moore title track.

    However, producers instead chose Lulu's different song of the same name. Well, that's what Alice claims, anyway.

    John Barry wasn't a fan of the final product, saying: "It's the one I hate most... it just never happened for me."

  5. Blondie - 'For Your Eyes Only'

    For Your Eyes Only (Remastered 2001)

    Originally, American band Blondie was approached to write and perform the theme song for this Roger Moore Bond movie.

    However, it was rejected because the company wanted what ended up being Sheena Easton's song and the band refused to record it.

    They eventually released their song on the 1982 album The Hunter.

  6. Pet Shop Boys - 'The Living Daylights'

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

    A-ha's title track for Timothy Dalton's first Bond movie was not the only recorded song for the film.

    Pet Shop Boys also recorded a song for the film, but it wasn't chosen. The duo later reworked the song into 'This Must Be the Place I Waited Years to Leave' on their Behaviour album in 1990.

  7. Ace of Base - 'GoldenEye'

    Rejected Goldeneye Theme - "The Goldeneye" by Ace of Base (Demo Version)

    You can't get more '90s than Swedish pop outfit Ace of Base, and they almost had a Bond theme!

    In the end, Tina Turner's different song was chosen, but they later released the song with slightly revised lyrics as 'The Juvenile' on their 2002 album Da Capo, replacing the word 'GoldenEye' with 'Juvenille'.

  8. Pulp - 'Tomorrow Never Dies'

    Tomorrow Never Dies Opening with Pulp

    A different song, 'Tomorrow Never Dies', written by the Pierce Brosnan movie's composer David Arnold and performed by KD lang, was originally meant to be the theme tune, but Sheryl Crow's song was selected instead, and lang's relegated to the end credits and titled 'Surrender'.

    As well as KD lang's song, producers asked for tracks from 12 others, including Pulp, The Cardigans, Saint Etienne and Swan Lee.

    Tomorrow Never Dies Opening with Saint Etienne Song

  9. Shirley Bassey - 'No Good About Goodbye' (Quantum of Solace)

    Quantum of Solace rejected Theme by Shirley Bassey/ David arnold

    Composer David Arnold wrote this track, and he insists it was never a rejected Bond theme.

    But we can't help but think, surely not! The song's opening strings are clearly from Arnold's Quantum Of Solace score, and it even has the word 'solace' in the lyrics.

    Arnold says 'No Good About Goodbye' is actually just an homage that he was working on, and it was later finished for Dame Shirley's 2009 album The Performance.

  10. Muse - 'Supremacy' (Skyfall)

    Muse - Supremacy Skyfall what if . . .

    British band Muse tried very hard to get this dramatic Bond-esque song to be the theme tune for Skyfall.

    However, they lost out to Adele’s famous soulful title song. At least their track was used in the first Skyfall trailer.

  11. Radiohead - 'Spectre'


    Radiohead submitted this track for Spectre, but the producers felt it was too "melancholy" for the title sequence, and instead chose 'Writing's on the Wall' by Sam Smith (not exactly a banger).

    Director Sam Mendes attempted to use Radiohead's song elsewhere in the film, but decided it would be too distracting.

    Mendes said it was "an utter nightmare ... we had this beautiful song and we weren't able to use it. But it's somehow cooler for Radiohead to have written a song that wasn't used."