In Depth

James Bond theme: critics rate Billie Eilish’s title track for No Time To Die

Grammy winner draws rave reviews for ‘dramatic, unsettling ballad’

Billie Eilish’s new James Bond theme has been released to great critical acclaim today.

The 18-year-old American singer-songwriter is the youngest artist ever to record a 007 title track. No Time To Die, which hits cinemas in April, is the 25th film in the franchise.

In Daniel Craig’s fifth and final appearance as Bond, the veteran MI6 spy is recruited to rescue a kidnapped scientist, only to find himself hot on the trail of a mysterious villain.

The release of Eilish’s track coincides with a new teaser trailer for the movie featuring the theme song.

Eilish wrote and produced the song with her elder brother Finneas O’Connell, with whom she made her Grammy-winning debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

“Subconsciously and consciously, we’ve been trying to write a Bond theme for our whole lives,” she told E! News.

What has the reaction been?

The BBC says the track is a “dramatic, unsettling ballad that hints the plot will centre around the secret agent’s betrayal”.

“Shrewdly, the duo retain their dark, off-kilter style throughout the song, while incorporating several of the film series’ musical touchstones – swelling strings, discordant brass, and, best of all, it finishes with the distinctive minor 9th chord that closes out Monty Norman’s original Bond theme,” the broadcaster writes.

The Independent said Eilish’s Bond theme is “one of the best we’ve had in some time”. “The flourish of violins, electronic guitar and faint brass all pay tribute to classic Bond theme tropes, but Eilish's subtle synth motif makes this song her own,” it says.

The Guardian describes the track “a Bond theme befitting the Craig era… The pop sensation sidelines her trademarks for a tasteful track that matches the haunted solitude of its leading man”.

The BBC’s entertainment correspondent Colin Paterson said he thought the track was the “first serious Oscar contender for next year”.

Across the Atlantic, The Week US also asks whether Eilish’s track could score her an Academy Award: “At the very least, does every other artist debuting an original song in a 2020 movie have some competition on their hands? To quote Eilish, duh,” says Brendan Morrow.

The Telegraph’s headline above its review by Neil McCormick says: “downbeat noir is spine-tingling”. 

“A brooding ballad about betrayal, Eilish sings throughout in her trademark soft murmur, as if she was recording in her bedroom at night afraid to wake her parents up. Which, to be fair, she probably was,” writes McCormick as he ranks all Bond themes over the years.

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