The James Bond franchise has always been an all-encompassing cultural beast, popping up in multiple forms across the media landscape, from advertising to art and of course, music. There is always a little hype around who will feature on the opening credits soundtrack – over the years it has featured massive names in pop music, from Jack White to Paul MaCartney. Many artists would be honoured to write a Bond theme and this time that honour went to Sam Smith who wrote the totally uninspired whine Writing’s On The Wall for the new Bond flick Spectre. I’m sure I’m not the only one who was a little disappointed so here are 12 Aussie artists who could have done a much better job.
The new James Bond film Spectre is out this week. If you go and see it you’ll be forced to sit through four dull minutes of Sam Smith’s Writing’s On The Wall during the opening credits. Here are 12 Aussie artists who would have done a much, much better job at writing a James Bond theme.
Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders
Jack Ladder is the James Bond of Australian music. Tall, dark, handsome and brooding, he encapsulates what the Bond in the novels was always meant to be, but which the movies never quite got right. There are many tracks from either Hurtsville or Playmates which wouldn’t go astray on the new incarnations of the Bond films – the moody, cinematic feels of Ladder’s repertoire would go hand-in-hand against the overcast backdrop of London in Skyfall, or the darkly elegant streets of Montenegro in Casino Royale. Ladder is a known charmer, but he’s got an edge that makes him a bit of dark horse. Supposedly Craig doesn’t want to play Bond anymore; perhaps it’s time Jack Ladder considered a change in artistic field.
A little while ago, when Pearls released their debut album Pretend You’re Mine, we always thought that they’d write the perfect soundtrack to a David Lynch film. The LP is a lovely little gem of nightmarish pop – full of dark, dreamy synths, bold vocals and spooky undertones delivered with a metallic sheen. While their tunes wouldn’t feel out of place on something like Twin Peaks, these are also some of the key ingredients for a Bond theme. I can already imagine illustrations of girls grooving to something like Big Shot or Me & My Girl (see below).
City Calm Down
There’s something about baritone vocals that seem to scream Bond. That combined with intricate melodies, restless drumming and expansive textures and you have the perfect recipe for a Bond theme. City Calm Down have these elements in troves, something they displayed wonderfully on their debut album In A Restless House. The band reek of brooding darkness, a cloud that has carried on from bands like Joy Division, New Order and The Cure; they also know how to appeal to the masses – two things that are synonymous with the modern version of Bond.
Eves the Behaviour
Hannah Karydas performs under the moniker Eves the Behaviour and she is currently one of Australia’s most exciting pop talents. Suffering from synaesthesia (she identifies music with colours) would help her craft something perfectly appropriate for the sometimes trippy opening credits of a James Bond film. Her dark, disillusioned sound suits the newer, grittier portrayal of Bond, and she has the lyrical nous to back it all up. Her two singles to date, TV and Electrical are near faultless and form part of her debut EP. The 21 year-old has also spent some time in 2015 working with Samuel Dixon, a songwriter who has collaborated with Sia, as well as Adele, who did such a good job on the previous Bond film Skyfall.
Gang of Youths
Sydney rockers Gang of Youths have had a meteoric rise since they dropped their debut album The Positions which builds and builds and eventually soars close to perfection when it comes to a rock record. They certainly know how to navigate a song, focusing on anticipation, mood creation, and emotional release. Their recent cover of All My Friends by LCD Soundsystem for triple J’s Like A Version was one of the longest and best renditions ever heard on the station. You just get the feeling the challenge of writing a Bond theme song is something they, especially front man Dave Le’aupepe, would relish. His story, and how it influenced their record is incredibly painful and his maturity would stand him in good stead to write a theme for Daniel Craig’s Bond.
Adalita Srsen has been a fixture of the Australian music scene for quite some time now, since before this writer was born in fact, being a founding member of the rock band Magic Dirt. She reinvented herself at the age of 40 following the tragic death of Magic Dirt bassist Dean Turner to embark on her solo career. Her individual releases speak of music that is evangelical in its commitment to creating mood. Her song The Repairer has the swagger and strength of any good James Bond worth his salt, and she has already sound tracked a film in Australia, Surburban Mayhem. Her experience and talent lend to her the right ingredients to brood all over a great Bond theme.
Talk about a band who have taken off. Led by Kevin Parker, the Perth siders have rocketed to stardom on the back of their 2010 debut Innerspeaker, 2012’s Lonerism, and this year’s Currents. They twice won album of the year for triple J and are favourites again this year which would make it a hat-trick. They’ve become so popular their appeal is literally worldwide, they just have a knack of making people fall in love with them. Maybe it’s their inherent ability to make sounds no one has heard before or perhaps their wacky film clips are a form of hypnosis but one thing is for sure, to hear them behind the opening sequence of a Bond film would be something quite special.
Formed in Melbourne by Mikey Young of Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Dan Stewart, Total Control evolved from a two-piece using samplers and synthesisers in their bedroom to a five piece post-punk band that have established a unique sound that is now a pleasure live as well as on record. They make music that has a cinematic quality to it. Upbeat but never rushed, it combines their traditional instruments with a synth-y backdrop to great effect, enabling that sheen you would want in a Bond theme. Their sophomore album Typical System was released back in 2014 to universal critical claim and their single Flesh War could almost be the name of a Bond movie.
Consisting of three brothers and two friends from the small town of Menangle in New South Wales, The Rubens are a young band who sound like they’ve been making music for years and years. Their songs hook an audience with consummate ease. Their self-titled debut album in 2012 went straight into many people’s favourites list and recent follow-up Hoops is continuing that success. Despite a certain simplicity and repetitiveness to their music, they never feel like they’re rehashing anything, a testament to just how catchy they are. Singer Sam Margin definitely has the voice to take on a Bond theme, and honestly probably could have outshone Sam Smith this time around. Also, check out the top comments for this video.
The beautiful Brooke Addamo started her career on Australian Idol in 2008 as a teenager. She quickly managed to shake that mainstream pop image though, featuring on Illy’s 2010 hit It Can Wait. In 2011 she featured in triple J’s Hottest 100 twice, with lead single Raiders and her magnificent cover of Pumped up Kicks. To this day, her version is the subject of some debate, because it just about upstages the original. Recently she has been teaming up with Flight Facilities as they perform around the world. She has the perfect pop voice to emulate someone like Adele and smash a Bond theme. Don’t believe us? Check out Nightswim.
Not to be confused with the landmass in New South Wales. Mt Warning are a band; they just obviously love their hometown. The main driving force here is songwriter Mikey Bee, accompanied by producer Taylor Steele who crafts beautiful slow-burners that manage to remind you of both Sigur Ros and Bon Iver, but also frequently burst forth with thumping alternative rock and howling vocals. Their latest single When It All Bleeds Out has solidified Mt Warnings admirable ability to base their sound on simplicity but deliver a sense of awe and grandeur, one thing all good Bond themes need.
This pint-sized pop songstress has the voice to do just about anything, including a Bond theme. Whether it’s a sad and searching ballad or a sassy, snappy song full of attitude she always leaves an impression the listener. Classically trained, her vocals can go right up and down the scale. She can make you feel tense and apprehensive, or on the verge of tears. Her album Curiouser and hit single The Last Day on Earth both went platinum. She has also co-written and performed in the opera The Rabbits. Whatever the Bond theme required of her, she could do and do it with absolute class.