Ace of Base also submitted a melody for the film, but were removed from contention by their record label, Arista Records. Still, it’s an excellent single, and was thankfully released on their album Da Capo in the form of “The Juvenile,” which is effectively the same song with “goldeneye” swapped out for “juvenile.” It’s also a good match for where the franchise was at that point: in transition. Ace of Base’s slow, pop-y tune strikes the balance between a more modern sound for the time while not completely abandoning the mood of the orchestral themes of Bond’s classic era.
8. Tomorrow Never Dies – “Surrender” by k.d. lang
When longtime Bond scorer John Barry exited the franchise midway through Timothy Dalton’s time in the role, the search was on for the person who would bring a similar sensibility to the next era of Bond scores . Enter David Arnold, who would often cite Barry as a favorite, and was a more than suitable choice to carry on his style. From that point, many performers sought the Tomorrow Never Dies gig, and eventually Canadian pop singer k.d. lang was chosen. But after producers pumped $100 million into the film, they changed their minds, instead going with a more high-profile artist to perform the theme. The chart-topping Sheryl Crow was brought in.
The version by lang, titled “Surrender,” was included over the film’s end title sequence, but there’s a big difference between the clout of opening a Bond film and the closing credits. Even still, the end credits was a good showcase for how gorgeous lang’s tune is and how perfectly in tune with the franchise it is. With all due respect to Crow’s vocals both in a general sense and throughout “Tomorrow Never Dies,” lang’s mezzo-soprano voice sound far less forced, and while the film is one of Bond’s more bombastic adventures, it has an appreciation for classic elements of 007 adventures. The very same could be said of the vibe given off by lang’s “Surrender.”
9. Quantum Of Solace – “No Good About Goodbye” by Shirley Bassey
Quantum of Solace had a notoriously difficult road during production. On top of a writer’s strike that nearly sank the whole thing (and some would argue the strike still did), there was trouble getting a theme song written. Naturally, Quantum of Solace is a mouthful of a title to vocalize in a melody, but that wasn’t the main issue. The primary hiccup for the producers was getting their first choice in the recording studio: Amy Winehouse. Like Solace, the late Winehouse was in a difficult position at the time, and ultimately the combination of Jack White and Alicia Keys were brought in at the last minute to replace her. The result is a song that makes you wish you could instead be listening to the more jazz-y melodies of a once-in-a-lifetime singer like Winehouse.
White and Keys created what would go on to be called “Another Way to Die,” perhaps the closest a Bond song has come to being interchangeable with modern rock tunes on the radio. While there are conflicting versions to the story as to whether it was really intended as a Bond song at all, the producers would have been much better off going with Shirley Bassey’s song, “No Good About Goodbye.” According to composer David Arnold, only a few lines of the song had been written before White and Keys were chosen for the film, and it was only later that he worked to complete the tune with Bassey. But there’s no denying the theme has more than a passing resemblance to the Bond aesthetic, evoking the retro vibes of the Connery years, combined with lyrics that paint the picture of a man suffering: “Where is the solace that I crave? Will it still haunt me to my grave?” That alone would at least make it a more logical choice for a film where Bond is dealing with heartbreak. Not to mention that Bassey is a Bond song legend, so going with anyone but her is a bit of a head-scratcher.
10. Spectre – Radiohead
“My hunger burns a bullet hole. A spectre of my mortal soul. The only truth that I can see. Spectre has come for me.” These are the lyrics that close out Radiohead’s rejected theme for Spectre, and they couldn’t be a better fit. It’s surprising enough that Radiohead was rejected at all, but given the sheer strength of their “Spectre,” it’s truly difficult to ascertain why Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall” was chosen over it.