It’s a mystery to stump even the hardiest of Secret Service agents. Who’s going to be the voice behind the next James Bond theme? Who is ready to join the pantheon of greats that includes Adele, Madonna, Shirley Bassey, Paul McCartney, Duran Duran and the rest? According to director Sam Mendes, the theme for Spectre, out later this year, has already been written and recorded – but he’s staying tight-lipped on the identity of the artist. “I can say that the song’s been recorded and I’m very excited about it,” he teased. “You won’t have to wait long.” Here’s our own field work on the chances Ellie Goulding, Noel Gallagher and other artists rumoured to be in the frame really have of joining the 007 franchise…
Why he’d be good: Adele’s huge Skyfall theme proved that people want nothing more than their spies to be soundtracked by mainstream-friendly pop-soul. And when it comes to mainstream-friendly pop-soul, there’s no-one quite as successful as Sam Smith (well, apart from Adele).
Why he’d be rubbish: Smith’s debut ‘In The Lonely Hour’ was lauded for its sadness, its subtlety, its use of his rich, wounded and mournful vocal. These are qualities which have no place in the land of the Bond theme: a wonderful world in which nuance is met with complete disdain, where tunes must be big, booming and ridiculously dramatic, and where all songs should be sung by scary folk with voices that could flatten a small city.
Bookmaker odds: 2/5
What are the chances: Given Adele’s success, it’d be madness if the producers hadn’t tried to snare her heir apparent, but Smith has consistently denied he’s been asked to record the theme.
Why he’d be good: Like Smith, he’d guarantee commercial success – and as he’s dabbled in everything from R&B to folk-pop over the years, he’s got enough versatility for the task.
Why he’d be rubbish: Scruffy. Polite. Friendly. Humble. All characteristics that, even tangentially, should not be associated with James Bond.
Bookmaker odds: 8/1
What are the chances: He’d be a commercial success, but Mendes and co just might fancy a more left-field choice after the crushing obviousness of Adele.
Why she’d be good: Has a proven track-record for providing a song for a much-loved British institution.
Why she’d be rubbish: Has a proven track-record for absolutely murdering a song for a much-loved British institution.
Bookmaker odds: 10/1
What are the chances: Sam Smith recently claimed he’d been told that Goulding was the mystery artist behind the song. A genuine piece of information, or a cunning red herring?
Why she’d be good: Her ‘Skyfall’ song has sold over five million copies worldwide – there’s no-one better qualified…
Why she’d be rubbish: Pulling off the same trick twice in a row could be tricky – and a re-tread of the last theme would be a bit dull.
Bookmaker odds: 12/1
What are the chances: There wouldn’t be a safer pair of hands, but it seems unlikely that Adele would return to the Bond well yet again before getting a move on with her next album.
Lana Del Rey
Bookmaker odds: 14/1
Why she’d be good: Given that Lana’s lyrics tend to revolve around violent men and their messy love affairs, you could argue she’s already essentially released about 30 unofficial Bond themes in the past five years.
Why she’d be rubbish: As one of the only non-Brits on the list, Del Rey’s largely songs exist in some fabled, alternative Hollywood-like land of faded glamour or some Lynchian nightmare. It might not be the flavour they’re looking for. Plus, as a general rule, Bond themes by US artists – we’re looking at you, Madonna, Jack White and Alicia Keys – tend to be a bit naff.
Bookmaker odds: 12/1
What are the chances: The fact that Del Rey’s been working on new album ‘Honeymoon’ for the past year or so suggests it’s unlikely.
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Why she’d be good: She’s essentially taken over the world despite only being 18, and makes amazing pop music. It’d be a belter.
Why she’d be rubbish: It wouldn’t be. But – and here’s a big rub – she signed on as the musical curator of the most recent Hunger Games film. Will she be allowed to work on another giant film franchise?
Bookmaker odds: 16/1
What are the chances: Her commitment to other big-screen projects means it’s probably a no-goer.
Why he’d be good: The UK’s biggest heavyweight when it comes to arms-aloft stadium-rock, and a man who knows his way around a killer chorus like no other.
Why he’d be rubbish: Noel’s charm as always been his down-to-earth wit, his gobby ordinary-bloke charm, his ‘songs for normal people’ shtick. Can you really imagine one of his songs soundtracking the sight of a devilishly handsome secret agent parachuting out of the sky, shooting a bad guy and then bedding a femme fatale? No, us neither.
Bookmaker odds: 25/1
What are the chances: It doesn’t seem an obvious fit, but Noel’s previously said he’d write a 007 song in “a heartbeat”. He could be the dark horse…
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Why they’d be good: A genuinely huge UK band with a massive audience in the US, and equally at home tossing out a soupy ballad or a stadium-filling pop-rocker.
Why they’d be rubbish: Come on, it’s Coldplay. James Bond wouldn’t listen to Coldplay. He’d probably shoot you if he knew you had ‘Ghost Stories’ on your iPod.
Bookmaker odds: 33/1
What are the chances: According to reports, Coldplay have been working on their final album, ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’, ever since ‘Ghost Stories’ was released last year. Where would they have found the time?
Why they’d be good: One Direction have one trick, and it is essentially this: hire a small army consisting of the world’s most talented songwriters, and goad them into composing the catchiest pop tunes the human brain can fathom. It’s worked well so far; it’d probably work well for Bond, too.
Why they’d be rubbish: There is a time and a place for bright and breezy choruses and giddy thrills and puppy-eyed mooning and cheesy love stories. The James Bond theme is not it.
Bookmaker odds: 40/1
What are the chances: Given that they’re the probably the biggest group in the world, there’d have been a lot more tabloid talk if this one had any legs.
Why he’d be good: “HUH!” Need we say more?
Why he’d be rubbish: Tom Jones has already recorded one Bond theme – for the flick Thunderball, back in 1965, and famously fainted in the recording studio when he tried to hit the final high note. Let’s not tempt fate again.
Bookmaker odds: 50/1
What are the chances: About as slim as Sir Tom ever stumbling upon a genuine superstar on The Voice.