Billie Eilish just performed the Paul McCartney-penned “Yesterday” at last weekend’s Oscars, and now the 18-year-old wunderkind is truly making cinematic history, joining an elite list of James Bond theme singers that includes McCartney as well as Adele, Sam Smith, Shirley Bassey, Duran Duran, Tom Jones, and Tina Turner. Eilish, who wrote the title theme for the forthcoming 25th Bond film No Time to Die with her producer/brother, Finneas O’Connell, is now the youngest artist ever to record a Bond song (beating the record previously held by Sheena Easton, who was 22 when she sang the theme for 1982’s For Your Eyes Only.)
Eilish may be young, and she may be better known for her signature whisper than for Bassey-esque brassiness, but she sounds mature and commanding on “No Time to Die,” bringing the old-Hollywood drama on this surprisingly classic-sounding epic. It still sounds like her, but her voice is at full, robust strength, sultrily swooping and soaring to places it rarely has before — all while majestically backed by the orchestral arrangements of legendary film composer Hans Zimmer, renowned orchestrator/arranger/conductor Matt Dunkley, and former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr.
“There are a chosen few who record a Bond theme. I am a huge fan of Billie and Finneas. Their creative integrity and talent are second to none, and I cannot wait for audiences to hear what they’ve brought — a fresh new perspective whose vocals will echo for generations to come,” No Time to Die director Cary Joji Fukunaga said in statement accompanying the song’s release on Thursday.
While Eilish may still be a teenager, and Finneas only 22, she recently confessed to Beats 1’s Zane Lowe that recording a Bond theme has been their longtime dream. “You know what’s funny about it? Like two years ago, we were like, ‘Wouldn’t it be crazy to make a song for the Bond movies?’” Eilish said. “And so, for two years-ish, we’ve been subconsciously trying to, in our own way. We’ve written songs that have never come out that are like, ‘Oh, this sounds like Bond, like, this would be dope’ — like, it would never happen, whatever. And then this offer came up and we were like, ‘Ahhhh!’”
Eilish made history at last month’s Grammys when she became the all-time youngest Album of the Year winner and only the second artist to ever sweep all of the “Big Four” categories in a single ceremony; we will have to wait until next year to see if she adds an Best Original Song Oscar statuette to her increasingly crowded mantel and gets halfway to EGOT status. In the meantime, she is set to create another major awards-show moment on Feb. 18, when she performs “No Time to Die” live for the first time at the BRIT Awards, accompanied by Finneas, Zimmer, and Marr. No Time to Die hits theaters on April 2.
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