The history between Radiohead and James Bond isn’t as recent as you might think. The band wrote a theme tune for the 2015 film Spectre, which was inexplicably turned down and then offered as a free gift to their fans. But actually, their connection with 007 goes back to 1995 when they covered Carly Simon’s ‘Nobody Does It Better’ for MTV.
After being launched into the cultural mainstream with their 1993 hit ‘Creep’, Thom York and Radiohead suddenly found themselves at the centre of the MTV hysteria which surrounded British artists at the time. With Blur and Oasis bringing Britpop to the masses Radiohead was often lumped in the same boat as the feuding bands.
But something that Oasis and Blur could never really do is cover a classic song yet make it completely and utterly feel like their own. Which brings us to Radiohead’s performance in August of 1995 where they took on the 1977 Bond film theme tune ‘Nobody Does It Better’.
Performed by Carly Simon for the now cult-classic James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me starring Roger Moore. The song is the first Bond theme tune to not share the film’s title it has since become synonymous with the secret agent’s past, present and future.
While Simon’s version may have some big power notes and operatic conditioning, Radiohead manages to deliver a subversive and ultimately beautiful rendition of the song, with Thom Yorke’s vocal in, particularly fine form. Riffs rage from the back as the song swirls to its crescendo ending with the kind of cultured anarchy that would define their early career. It’s a triumph.
Listen to Radiohead cover ‘Nobody Does It Better’ below.