(March 12, 2020). It may be a bit premature to count anything by Billie Eilish out when it comes to the Billboard charts, but the members of ‘80s British pop supergroup Duran Duran are probably breaking out the champagne bottles to celebrate the fact that their standalone status of having the only James Bond theme to top the pop chart will likely remain intact.
The Durans’ classic “A View to a Kill” – the titular theme song to the 1985 installment of the Bond franchise (and the last featuring Roger Moore in the lead role) – was the first and still-only James Bond theme to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, which it did in July of that year.
Now, 35 years and eleven Bond theme songs later, it appears the record will remain intact (at least for now) as the latest shaken-and-stirred musical martini – this one the brooding, piano-driven title ballad “No Time to Die” by 2019’s it-girl Billie Eilish – continues its dramatic chart free-fall from its debut position of No. 16 two weeks ago to No. 54 last week and, this week, to No. 96.
It’s still early, but that fast slide down the chart makes it a pretty unlikely candidate to turn around and match the Duran^2 performance by becoming only the second Bond theme to top Billboard‘s premier singles list. At its current rate, “No Time to Die,” which was released in mid-February, could be off the charts before March ends.
Granted, in this day and age where a song’s ultimate chart fate can hardly be considered sealed in its third week of existence (fellow pop star Lizzo had a No. 1 hit with a two-year-old dusty just six months ago), it would be waaaay too early to completely count out Eilish’s moodiest of contributions to the Bond theme legacy… especially in an era where all it would take is one big jolt to resuscitate “No Time to Die” and send it flying to new chart heights.
In this case, that boost could come as soon (or late) as November of this year when the film No Time to Die, which was postponed from its original April release date due to the COVID-19 outbreak, finally hits theaters. A prominent placement in the film’s opening or closing credits or in movie trailers could give Eilish’s title track just the kick it needs to rebound – or more accurately by then – re-enter the chart and climb higher than its current No. 16 peak.
Through no fault of her own, Eilish’s “No Time to Die,” which was co-written by her brother Finneas and released before the decision was made to postpone the film, is the first Bond theme to essentially have no accompanying movie during the song’s intended marketing cycle. Given the often synergistic relationship between a movie’s theme song and the movie itself, “No Time to Die” – a depressingly dark ballad that hasn’t yet resonated with folks other than the most diehard Eilish fans – is having to fend for itself amidst a sea of more radio-friendly tunes.
To further add insult to injury, two of Eilish’s older hits – the former No. 8-peaking “everything i wanted” and No. 1 smash “Bad Guy” – both still outrank the much newer Bond theme on the current chart, with “Bad Guy” having been on the list for nearly a year.
No one can predict with certainty what the ultimate Billboard chart fate will be for “No Time to Die.” But it will be tougher for the folks at Interscope Records to market the song as fresh product when the film is released in November, especially given that nine months will have passed since Eilish’s theme first hit radio and streaming platforms.
What is likely is that the members of Duran Duran – just like the surviving members of the NFL’s only perfect-season team, the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who breathe a collective sigh of relief every season when that last undefeated team suffers its first loss – can at least put the bubbly on ice.
That’s because what was on paper a sure-fire contender to join them in the No. 1 Bond-theme ranks has fizzled out and suffered a quick death on the chart, with no near-term resuscitation in sight.
- Near-misses: Two Bond themes have peaked at No. 2 over the years: “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney & Wings (1973); and “Nobody Does It Better” (from The Spy Who Loved Me) by Carly Simon (1977)
- The last Bond theme to reach the top ten was Adele’s “Skyfall” (No. 8) in 2012
- Of the 25 Bond themes overall (including the famous Dr. No theme that has played through most of the movies), nine have the words “live,” “die” or “kill” in their titles: “A View to a Kill,” “Licensed to Kill,” “No Time to Die,” “Die Another Day,” “Another Way to Die” (Quantum of Solace), “Tomorrrow Never Dies,” “The Living Daylights,” “You Only Live Twice” and the only song with both “live” and “die” in its title, “Live and Let Die.”
- Just as A View to a Kill was the last Bond film to feature Roger Moore in the lead role, No Time to Die will be the last to star Daniel Craig.
DJRob is a freelance blogger who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff! You can follow him on Twitter @djrobblog.
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