‘We have all the time in the world,’ sang Louis Armstrong for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but even 007 super-fans like us have to admit that life’s too short to endure Geri Halliwell’s take on ‘Live and Let Die’.
Here are seven cover versions of James Bond themes that went horribly awry…
Paul Oakenfold: ‘James Bond theme (Bond vs. Oakenfold)’
Never one to shirk a challenge, Oakey – at the height of his starry-eyed, uber-doof pop derangement – takes on Monty Norman’s original theme for the soundtrack of Die Another Day. The winner in this decidedly uneven contest is… no one. Certainly not the listener.
Martin Fry: ‘Thunderball’
One of the few disappointments on David Arnold’s Shaken and Stirred compilation of Bond covers in 1997, ABC’s Martin Fry can’t bring the testosterone-soaked oral acrobatics of Tom Jones’s original to his own version of ‘Thunderball’ – hardly one of the strongest 007 songs in any case. Then again, given that Sir Thomas fainted at the end of his recording, it’s perhaps no surprise that Fry doesn’t push himself too hard.
Guns ‘n’ Roses: ‘Live and Let Die’
Guns ‘n’ Roses must have listened to Paul McCartney and Wings’s ‘Live and Let Die’ and somehow decided it wasn’t quite bombastic enough. Their 1991 cover (from Use Your Illusion 1) makes even such epic, cocaine-and-multi-tracked-guitar folly as Oasis’s Be Here Now sound stripped down in comparison.
Geri Halliwell: ‘Live and Let Die’
Geri, on the other hand, opts for a karaoke backing track and chucks in some extra vocals at the end which can only be attributed to a faulty autocue. This 1999 b-side is a different kind of atrocity to the Guns’ overblown monstrosity, but it’s no less ghastly.
The Narrow: ‘The Living Daylights’
South African metal band the Narrow decided to cover A-Ha’s ‘The Living Daylights’ in 2005. Playing it safe, they plump for an almost note-perfect recreation that sucks out all the charm.
Shirley Bassey: ‘A View to a Kill’
With three songs in the bag already, Shirley Bassey was the undisputed Queen of the Bond theme even before she recorded a whole album’s worth of them in 1987. Disappointed with the results, she binned the whole project – but the record company released it without her permission.
When Bassey found out, she successfully sued for it to be withdrawn. Copies still exist, however, and the internet has a long, unforgiving memory. YouTube is littered with tracks from the project and ‘A View to a Kill’ is a particularly apposite example of how synthetic, lethargic and dreary the whole thing was.
Radiohead: ‘Nobody Does it Better’
Thom Yorke allegedly called the theme from The Spy Who Loved Me “the sexiest song ever written”. If so, this clanging, ‘Creep’-ified cock-up must qualify as the worst shag in history. Nobody does it better? Probably only Adam Sandler has ever done it more grotesquely.
What’s your favourite cover version of a James Bond theme? Let us know below…