One call a lot of music artists would like to get during their career is being asked to produce and sing a song for a James Bond film. Of course, there is a certain amount of pressure and expectation placed on the artist to live up to given the legacy of Bond themes. This year, Grammy-winner Billie Eilish faced that pressure after composing the theme for No Time to Die. The singer spoke on the public’s rough reaction to her theme song.
For these interested musicians, getting tapped to do a Bond theme is a crown jewel in their musical milestones. Many themes have become iconic, such as Shirley Bassey's “Goldfinger” and “Diamonds Are Forever,” along with Paul McCartney's “Live and Let Die” and Carly Simon's “Nobody Does It Better.” In recent years, music superstars, such as Adele and Sam Smith, have released Oscar-winning themes “Skyfall” and “Writing's on the Wall”, respectively. Billie Eilish joined the ranks with “No Time to Die,” but her theme received mixed reactions. She spoke with NME about the “rough” time she had after the song was released, saying:
That was the rough period. That was the rough period. I wasn’t mad about it because I understand. Why wouldn’t people have wants for the song that’s the theme to their favorite franchise? That’s totally understandable. But my favorite thing is an open mind, especially when it was closed before. I love when people aren’t stuck to their pretenses, which I am totally guilty of all the time. I hear that something’s going to happen and I’m like, ‘That’s ridiculous. It should never be that way. It’s never going to be good.’ And it’s important to keep your mind open and just listen and be like, ‘You know what, actually? I was wrong. This is really good.
While the theme was not well received by Bonds traditionalists, the production, composition and lyrics fit well with Billie Eilish’s style of music and push Bond themes into a modern era. Many times, Bond themes’ production and structure have been dictated by the music of the time, though there still are instances of callbacks. Madonna’s “Die Another Day” tapped into the electronic dance sound, while Adele and Sam Smith’s themes fell more in line with Bond themes of the1960s.
The No Time to Die theme came out a month after Billie Eilish had swept the Grammy Awards. She became the first artist to win Best New Artist, along with Album, Song and Record of the Year, since Christopher Cross in 1981. She also became the youngest artist to complete the feat. Despite the reception, Eilish received a Grammy nomination.