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Plenty of Time to Die: Why It Took 3 Months to Nail Billie Eilish's Bond Theme

The 25th James Bond movie (and the final one to feature Daniel Craig as 007) is now streaming on Peacock!

By Josh Weiss

Contrary to what its title might imply, the opening song for No Time to Die (the movie itself is now streaming on Peacock) actually required a lot of time to come together. Production on the Grammy and Oscar-winning theme (performed and co-written by a then 17-year-old Billie Eilish) stretched over three months of hard work before final approval was given out by the now-retired 007: Daniel Craig.

How Billie Eilish's No Time to Die Theme Song Came Together

Catching up with Music Week in 2021, music producer Stephen Lipson chronicled the "extremely long and complicated exercise" of finding the perfect sound for No Time to Die's eponymous anthem, which required "many opinions and multiple orchestral arrangements," as well as numerous conversations with the song's co-writer and fellow producer, Finneas O'Connell (Eilish's brother).

Once the mix was complete, Craig needed to be swayed. "From the start, quite understandably, he wasn’t all that sure that the song delivered the right emotional climax for his final Bond outing, so satisfying him was key," Lipson continued.

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James Bond (Daniel Craig) drives a car with bullet holes in No Time to Die (2021).

As such, it was decided that the actor would visit Lipson's London-based studio — alongside veteran James Bond producer, Barbara Broccoli — to give the song a listen and make up his mind one way or the other. Lipson arrived bright and early to play around with the song, trying to hear it from the actor's perspective. 

"I realized that the climax needed to be enormous so I spent some time massaging the mix so that, without any perceivable change, it was very much louder at that point," he explained. "I then set the volume of the song so that it was pretty muscular, knowing that the climax would be Earth-shattering."

At last, Craig and Broccoli arrived. The former had to hear the song twice until he was finally convinced. "Barbara and I had no idea how he felt until the end of his second listening, when he looked up at me and said something like, 'That’s f***ing amazing.' As soon as he’d approved it, the wheels were set in motion and the news that Billie Eilish was doing the Bond theme song appeared everywhere."

Only the second theme song of the Craig era to derive its title from the movie it plays in front of, "No Time to Die" debuted online in February of 2020. This was a little less than two months out from the film's original domestic release date of April 10, 2020.  But destiny had other plans because the 25th James Bond mission was one of the very first Hollywood blockbusters to be delayed over COVID-related concerns in early March of 2020.

As a result, the titular song has the rather bizarre distinction of being the most premature 007 theme launch in the franchise's history. No Time to Die finally hit North American theaters on October 8, 2021 to critical acclaim and over $774 million at the worldwide box office (the third-highest gross of the Craig-fronted quintet after Skyfall and Spectre). In addition to being the youngest person to record a Bond track, Eilish also became the first person born in the 21st century to win an Academy Award when the film nabbed the prize for Best Original Song.

No Time to Die is currently streaming on Peacock!

Originally published Sep 30, 2021.