If you didn’t know her before you may have heard her powerful, soulful rendition of The Beatles’ song Yesterday performed with the photo montage memoriam during this year’s Oscar ceremony. Eighteen-year-old singer Billie Eilish is the latest songwriter/singer whose work will define a James Bond film when No Time to Die debuts in theaters in April. Eilish is the youngest person and second person ever to win the four main Grammy categories (Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best New Artist), and now, co-writing the song with her brother Finneas O’Connell (Glee), Eilish becomes the youngest performer to headline a Bond theme. The song features guitarist Johnny Marr, with orchestral arrangements by Hans Zimmer and Matt Dunkley. She’ll perform the song live for the first time at the Brit Awards in London Tuesday.
Compare her No Time to Die (listen to the full song below) to Sam Smith’s Writing’s On the Wall from Spectre and you’ll notice a familiar framework. Eilish doesn’t have the mature voice of Adele, as demonstrated in her passionate and aching theme to Skyfall. Eilish opts for cracking whispers over the fuller sound of Bassey or Adele. But clearly all three of these most recent performers for Bond films borrow something from Bassey’s sultry performances of early Bond themes. Be sure to listen for musical cues and motifs from familiar Bond themes of years past dotting the background of Eilish’s song. Note: The version on Eilish’s YouTube page probably doesn’t match what will hopefully be a cleaner, clearer edit used for the expected stylized opening credits sequence in the film–you may need to listen twice to catch all the lyrics, or watch this version with printed lyrics here.
Listen to all the prior Bond themes and watch all the corresponding opening credit sequences at our borg rundown of the themes here. Then vote in our James Bond Theme Song Poll below for your favorite:
No Time to Die arrives in theaters April 10, 2020. Flip through all our coverage of James Bond at borg here.