OSCARS: Bond Songs Don't Get Academy Attention

Craig Modderno is an AwardsLine contributor

After 50 years on screen, British agent James Bond is once again trying to use a woman to get what he wants from a stranger: Grammy Award-winning Adele sings and cowrote the title song for the latest big-screen Bond adventure, Skyfall. And judging from the international response to the track, this time around Bond might stand a chance in getting some long-deserved Oscar attention for the tune.

But Bond songs—let alone the franchise itself—don’t often earn Academy Award nominations. At an October Academy event, The Music of Bond: The First 50 Years, author and event host Jon Burlingame explained why Bond theme songs have earned only three Oscar nominations over a half-century.

Related: ‘Skyfall’ International Total Now $287 Million

“The problem in composing a song for a Bond film is often the producers require the title of the song to be the title of the film,” Burlingame explains. “But how do you come up with a song entitled ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’?”

It’s certainly not related to a lack of vocal talent. The various Bond songs have been performed by artists as diverse as Madonna, Louis Armstrong, Carly Simon, and the only repeat artist, Shirley Bassey.

But with some of the best reviews of a Bond film in years, perhaps Skyfall will be the film to break the Oscar nomination curse.

  1. For Your Eyes Only and Nobody Does It Better, from the Spy Who Loved Me, were both nominated for best original song.

      1. He specifically said there had been three previous nominations. (“Live and Let Die” was the third.)

  2. ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ featured Louis Armstrong singing John Barry’s “We Have All the Time in the World.” That should have won the Best song Oscar. it should have been the memorial song at the Oscars when Barry passed away.

    The music branch of the Academy is basically lazy and bigoted against inventive scores and songs unless they are dragged kicking and screaming to a musical number.

  3. Paul and Linda McCartney were also nomiated in 1974 for “Live and Let Die”.

    “Goldfinger” sung by Shirley Bassey and written by by Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley and John Barry in ’64 should have been nominated.

    Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager should have been nominated for “The Spy Who Loved Me” sung by Carly Simon in 1977.

    And a Durna Duran hit, “A View to a Kill” by John Barry and John Taylor should have also been nominated.

      1. Agreed. Surrender would have been much better as a title song – in fact, so much stronger than Sheryl Crow’s song it made me wonder why they didn’t change it.

  4. “The music branch of the Academy is basically lazy and bigoted against inventive scores and songs unless they are dragged kicking and screaming to a musical number.”

    While I certainly won’t defend Academy voters’ choices in general, the charge that they are ” bigoted against inventive scores’ would be dead wrong as just a year or so ago they gave Trent Reznor (and Atticus Ross) all of people an Oscar for his wildly inventive score for ‘The Social Network.’ That made up for a host of questionable music choices in the past.

  5. I thought I already read that Adele’s song is disqualified because the category is Original Song, and this one includes or interpolates some of Monte Norman’s original James Bond theme.

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