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(Credit: Jason Persse)

Music

How Duran Duran created a number one 'James Bond' hit

@SamWKemp

The James Bond franchise has proven to be a lucrative business for musicians. In the 60 years since the first 007 movie was released in 1962, each film has been given its own unique theme song, played out over an artful and unavoidable opening sequence. From Shirley Bassey to Jack White, every artist has attempted to put their own stamp on the iconic segment while attempting to capture the mystique of Bond and honour John Barry’s original score. Some choose to be stern and serious; others lighthearted and energetic. Often, the tracks end up rocketing into the charts, just as Eilish’s No Time To Die did in 2021. However, there’s only been one artist who has successfully landed a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with a 007 offering, and that is Duran Duran.

Written for 1985’s Moonraker starring Roger Moore, ‘View To A Kill’ is a masterclass in ’80s camp. Featuring synthesised orchestra hits, Chic-esque funk guitar and pounding reverberated snares, the single seems to have been designed with the set purpose of giving The Jesus and Mary Chain fans pop-induced aneurysms. On the other hand, American audiences couldn’t get enough of it.

According to bassist John Taylor, Duran Duran agreed to make the track after he was approached by Bond producer Albert ‘Cubby’ Brocolli at a party. Taylor, who was extremely drunk at the time, told Brocolli that he was a long-time fan of the Bond films. Indeed, the musician had previously stated his extensive Bond video collection in several interviews and bought an Aston Martin with the money he’d made with the band. He told Brocolli that he thought the music in the last few films had been pretty mediocre, citing Sheena Easton’s ‘For Your Eyes Only’ as the worst offender.

Speaking to Matt Bendoris in an interview published on Duran Duran’s website, Taylor explained: “I met Bond’s legendary producer Cubby Broccoli and with the confidence of youth I asked him, ‘So when are you going to have a decent theme tune again?’ It wasn’t a knock at Sheena Easton, but there hadn’t been a good one in years. So Cubby sent the film composer John Barry to meet me and we wrote ‘A View To A Kill’ in my front room.”

Looking back at the song in 2012, Taylor said: “Bond songs have to be big songs, don’t they? They have to have the grandiosity. It’s like designing a Rolls-Royce. You want it to be completely state of the art, but it’s always going to have the honking great radiator grill on the front. There’s certain criteria that have to be fulfilled. But I think we nailed it with that song. We really did nail it.”

That they did. On release, ‘A View To A Kill’ soared straight to the top of the US Hot 100, making Duran Duran the only artist to have secured the top spot with a Bond theme. With the support of Princess Diana already in the bag, the single cemented the band as one of the biggest acts on the planet.