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Radiohead’s “Spectre,” And 9 Other Rejected James Bond Theme Songs

Radiohead is releasing “Spectre” as a seven-inch single in the U.K. today, joining many other bands who repurposed their Bond castoffs into singles.

Imagine telling Radiohead, the band that figured out how to audioize despair and which is having quite a recent resurgence, that their James Bond theme song would not be appearing in the film, Spectre. It probably happened over email, a blow that even the technological paranoia of OK Computer and Kid A could not have foreseen. Ultimately, the decision to discard Radiohead’s “Spectre” over Sam Smith’s dull but Academy Award-winning “Writing On The Wall” is indicative of the film’s meh-plus reception, but at least the world got a new Radiohead song out of it. Now the band is following the footsteps of many other musicians before them, and releasing their castoff Bond theme as a single.

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When the Bond Team wants a single, apparently they don’t merely approach Sheryl Crow and say “Sheryl, you simply must write a song for Tomorrow Never Dies, the film in which Denise Richards plays a nuclear physicist.” Instead, several bands are given the opportunity to audition for the honor, leaving St. Etienne to eventually put their would-be titular song on a later album, and Pulp to release a B-side called “Tomorrow Never Lies.” (Both are jams!) This is a practice that goes back to the earliest days of Bond, and has created many memorable songs over the years.

As Radiohead releases the U.K. seven-inch single for “Spectre” today, take a stroll through the slides above for nine other songs that were shaken out of the running for the official soundtrack but later stirred into some other form of release.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.

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