Picking the Next Bond Theme

nd 24 is still over a year away, but the buzz department is already working overtime with the latest casting of Christoph Waltz and Andrew Scott in villain roles.  Just recently, The Mail definitively declared Waltz as reviving James Bond’s archenemy, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, as well as highlighting Andrew Scott’s role as another villain. Not to leave Ian Fleming fans hanging in the wind for too long, their minds rampant with speculations on where this could be heading, it was later revealed that the name of the film would be SPECTRE, which is the acronym of the terrorist organization Blofeld commanded over quite a few films. With the way Bond’s last outing, Skyfall, ended, a return to classic form was more than just hinted at, it was expected. And it appears the creative minds behind the franchise are going to deliver.

And while all these confirmations and anticipated tidbits of news are exciting, they fail in comparison to one of the most classic motifs of any Bond adventure – the theme song. Through tall Bonds and short Bonds, violent Bonds and more charismatic charmer Bonds, big-eared Bonds and blonde-haired Bonds, this idea of an all-encapsulating theme song, a theme that captures the spirit of the film as well as the times, has endured. Even more, it’s blossomed into a landmark – a pivotal deciding factor in the lead-up to whether an entry into the franchise sinks or swims.

Among the music community, landing a spot in the opening credits of this super spy series is an honor. It’s an accomplishment for any established artist’s resume, a nod of respect that permits an LP a spot on the mantel alongside the other awards and lifetime achievements. Sure, some artists can boast lending their voices to the soundtracks of pop cultural phenomena that seize hold of an audience for a year, several if their lucky, but it is the elite few who join the ranks of a film franchise that has existed since the early 60’s. Not even Queen, who scored the soundtrack of every other film in the 80’s, could boast such a prize.

While the rest of the Internet anticipates what 007: SPECTRE will be about, we at Drunk Monkeys have drawn swords on each other over more pressing matters, ready to shed blood in our battle over whose minstrels should guide us into this next high-octane outing. 

Scott Waldyn’s Pick: Bruno Mars

At the end of Daniel Craig’s last adventure as the titular British secret agent, Sam Mendes and the rest of the creative team behind Skyfall laid a foundation that harkened back to the golden era of Bond. Ralph Fiennes brought back the classic M, seemingly dressed and groomed to look as close to classic M actor Bernard Lee as possible. Miss Moneypenny, the famous secretary to M that Bond never missed a beat flirting with was reintroduced (portrayed with great range and improved characterization by Naomie Harris).  MI6’s irreverent gadget man, Q (Ben Wishaw), even saw a reintroduction. And as the greatest wink and nod to the 50-year history of James Bond, the last scene saw M, standing in his antiquated, decadent office, tossing one of his infamous “Top Secret” files onto his desk, for Bond’s eyes only.  In celebration of the 50-year anniversary, this was clearly a tribute, but it was also a nod of things to come.

And who better to take this treasured history and combine it with a little bit of the modern flair Daniel Craig is delivering than Bruno Mars? Mars is a singer/songwriter who respects history, varying his musical style with motifs across several decades, while still balancing a fresh sound. He can be soulful. He can be funky. He can pick up the pace and make us unconsciously tap our toes. More importantly, he’s an encyclopedia of music variety, a showman who yearns to keep the spirit of the past alive with him in his performance. And for all the decades the Bond franchise has been around, through all the changing times and moods and audience demands the creative teams behind these films have adapted to, whom else but a musical encyclopedia could thread one titanic theme together that coasts through the changing styles this franchise has surfed through?

Without a doubt, 007: SPECTRE is going to carry a strange feel. Villains Bond hasn’t fought since the early 70’s are finally going to be reintroduced in 2015 – modernized… but still bearing nostalgia for those who know their Ian Fleming. And with these villains, it’d be nice to hear a former staple of the franchise that has fallen on the wayside – brass. Bond used to be all about the brass. He’d kill to brass. He’d drive cars to brass. He’d kiss femme fatales to brass. Hell, in Dr. No, he’d sit quietly and read a newspaper to brass.

With the way Bruno Mars incorporates brass in his live acts, most notably the pair of horns in Superbowl XLVIII, there’s only one pop sensation who could freshen up Bond’s favorite sounds to kill agents of SPECTRE to (without alienating the kids), and it’s Mr. 2014 “Artist of the Year.” The kids obviously love him. The old fogeys, in and out of catatonic states induced by too much popcorn and soda at the theater, could get with his groove, too. And he’s got fire, that Bruno Mars. When he wants to amp up the drums and get the earth shaking, nothing will stop him.

And he’ll bring those horns. He’ll bring that brass Bond can read newspapers to. It seems simple, but it’s iconic – more so now that the old gang is here again. 

Matthew Guerruckey’s Pick: Jessie J 

I’m not much of a fan of James Bond—I could never identify with him growing up. I was never that cool, and I was never that suave, and my daily, geeky reality was too intense for me to even bother to daydream about such a cool, suave existence. I understood whiny nerds like Luke Skywalker or Peter Parker, but I’ve never really trusted anybody who comes off as the coolest guy in the room (I even think that damn Ferris Bueller’s up to no good).

But all of that aside, I really do admire these Daniel Craig Bond films, probably for the reason that he’s not that same, suave dickhead that the other 007’s, from Connery to Brosnan have portrayed. Daniel Craig’s given us James Bond, football hooligan.

So a tough British Bond deserves a tough British chick, and in music right now that’s basically Jessie J. She’s got a punk edge (or what passes for punk in 2014 pop music), she’s a smart songwriter, and she can fucking belt. She’s also got a funky style that can shift between modern-era pop and 60’s swing or 70’s funk. She’s versatile enough to write and perform a classic Bond theme.

But, let’s be honest, Taylor Swift will end up with this gig. And then she’ll fuck Daniel Craig, and we’ll get three albums of songs out of it. And, oh man, will they be catchy songs. Catchy songs about fucking Daniel Craig. And you’ll tell everybody that you hate those albums. But you will love them. You will love them with all of your heart. 

Gabriel Ricard’s Pick: Kanye West 

Yes, that Kanye West. Yes, the man who has a concept of reality that makes the likes of Willy Wonka go “Uhhhh…I’ll see myself out.”

It’s worth mentioning that I’m honestly pretty indifferent to Kanye’s antics. I have at best a passing interest in his music, but I will say that his last couple of albums, particularly his most recent Yeezus, are about as good as mainstream music can get these days. I wouldn’t have really imagined him as a serious contender for a Bond theme, and then I saw the trailer for The Wolf of Wall Street last year.

Right, the one that blasts “Black Skinhead” over the intoxicatingly intense cuts from longtime Scorsese collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker, as Leonard DiCaprio narrates a teasing introduction to the kind of lifestyle that requires a financial and physical body count that could touch the sun, and bury the physical entity known as Wall Street forever.

Beyond the cast and crew involved with The Wolf of Wall Street, nothing got me more excited about seeing that movie than that trailer and that song.

And that song is like rebuilding the cities of the past, constructing the cities of the future, stacking all of those cities on the urban landscapes of popular fiction, and then dropping all of that onto the cities that we live in right now. That song lives and breathes rage, bombast, and the swagger to express both of those things with confidence that some find inspiring, others find delusional, and a few simply regard with confusion and discomfort.

That’s the kind of energy I want to see with the next Bond theme. Adele did a fantastic job with Skyfall, but I want to go in a different direction for what may well be Craig’s last Bond film (I hope not). We’re talking about a film franchise that is finally looking the way people wanted it to look with Casino Royale. That was a good start, but the momentum the franchise grabbed with that movie was unfortunately compromised by Quantum of Solace, which is probably the worst James Bond movie that will ever be made.

Momentum is now furiously on the side of the series, thanks to SkyfallBond 24 has a tough act to follow, but it sounds like we’re building something that’s definitely going to have the best possible chance of picking up where the last installment left off.

And when I sit in the theater next year, I want a song and some opening credits that feel like I’m being shot out of a cannon. The next Bond theme needs to have energy and mania that tells me that Skyfall was a slow waltz in Disney moonlight, compared to what I’m about to see. There are a lot of artists who can potentially give me that high-impact opening I’m hoping for with Bond 24.

It feels a little strange to put Kanye West at the top of that list, but as I think about it more and more, I really can’t imagine anyone else with the arrogance necessary to believe they can top every single Bond theme ever written. 

Taras Butrej’s Pick: Anyone who can make the song greater than 5 beats per minute.

As much as I do appreciate a few Bond themes, such as Garbage’s ‘The World is Not Enough’ I find most of them to be just terribly boring.  Bond is a man of action and I feel like he wouldn’t even play half his theme songs in order to seduce a date.  That’s why I humbly submit that a damn rock band be utilized.  Find someone who can write half-decent lyrics and then play their instruments superbly.  I don’t even care if they get a guest singer to help with the refrain, just make them work for it.  Hell, I don’t even care who, but if I find out that Radiohead, Coldplay, etc have been chosen to deliver the next theme song I swear I’ll bring earplugs to the theater.