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

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.

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.

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