No time to die

Billie Eilish composes and performs the new James Bond theme song


Photo courtesy of JM Enternational via Shutterstock

On February 13, five-time Grammy winning artist, Billie Eilish, released the title track for the forthcoming James Bond movie, No Time To Die. Following performances by accomplished artists such as Adele, Sam Smith, and Alicia Keys, Eilish has big shoes to fill as the youngest artist in history to have recorded a main theme song for a 007 film. She continually receives mixed reception as a singer/songwriter despite being globally recognized for her 2019 freshman album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? The scoring and main track for each movie in the time-honored Bond series is considered integral, and Eilish presides over the latest theme, combining the film’s distinct elements of mystery with her own melancholic musical style, to usher a new era for the British franchise. 

Writing and producing alongside her fellow artist and brother, FINNEAS, Eilish completed this track in a matter of a couple days. The song is notably highlighted by its grand orchestral production, a signature component of a Bond theme. Mark Savage, a music reporter for BBC, states that, “Eilish and FINNEAS retain their dark, off-kilter style throughout the song, while incorporating several of the film series’ musical touchstones- swelling strings and discordant brass. Accompanied by piano, Eilish wearily sings the first and second verse into a slow burn pre-chorus, conveying themes of drama and danger that are prominent in the films. 

Entering the chorus, Eilish then sings, “I’ve fallen for a lie… Are you death or paradise?” Lyrically, the track confirms theories that James Bond will be betrayed by Madeleine Swann, his love interest from the last film, Spectre. As a fan of the 007 series, Eilish was thrilled about the opportunity to perform and compose “No Time To Die,” stating, To be able to score the theme song to a film that is part of such a legendary series is a huge honor. James Bond is the coolest film franchise ever to exist. She and FINNEAS paid tribute to the composer of the original 1962 theme, Monty Norman, by ending their song with the same minor ninth chord he used to end his. Additionally, 007 music fans noticed that Eilish used a chord progression eerily similar to that of Adele’s decorated theme “Skyfall,” prompting remixes of the two tracks.

With memorable precedents set by British singers, Sam Smith (“Writings On The Wall” for Spectre) and Adele, there is expected deliberation over how “No Time To Die” weighs up alongside its precursors. Eilish and FINNEAS’s music is popular among students at Battlefield and freshman music enthusiast, Umi Komine, states that “‘Skyfall’ is better because it was more memorable, but this new theme is on the same level as ‘Writings On The Wall’ in terms of catchiness.” Winning Best Original Song at the Oscars in 2013, Adele’s theme remains a favorite for music critics and fans of the British series. 

Eilish follows a long line of music legends including Madonna and Louis Armstrong as she debuts this song for the 25th James Bond film. Regardless of comparison to previous 007 artists, she leaves her own unique mark on this track while honoring classic Bond theme tropes. Making history at 18, Eilish captures the essence of the beloved immortal agent in a song for this new generation of music and film consumers.