Madonna Lived to "Die Another Day" with a James Bond Hit
The year: 2002. The mission: for Die Another Day - Pierce Brosnan's fourth (and, what no one knew at the time, final) outing as James Bond - create a memorable title theme in the tradition of popular hits like Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die" and Duran Duran's "A View to a Kill." The agent selected to carry out this mission? Madonna.
At the time, the Bond franchise was popular, but nearly all of the series' themes failed to chart in America since "A View to a Kill" topped the pop charts in 1985. Meanwhile, Madonna had reinvented her sound a few times with the blockbusters Ray of Light (1996) and Music (2001) while also branching out into soundtrack work of her own, like the swinging "Beautiful Stranger" from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
Working with Music collaborators Mirwais Ahmadzi and string arranger Michel Colombier, "Die Another Day" fit snugly between the European dance styles Madonna had pursued on her recent works and the intense flair of the series' orchestral soundtracks. Madonna did later confess that writing the song - and fitting those styles together - was challenging. "Everybody wants to do the theme song of a James Bond movie, and I never liked to do what everybody else likes to do," she told Larry King. "It's just some perverse thing in me, right? So, but then I thought about it and I said, you know what? James Bond needs to get techno."
While critics were split on Die Another Day as a song and a film (perhaps the invisible car driving through an ice palace was a little too over-the-top), audiences were quick to Madonna's charms. The song became the first Top 10 hit from a Bond film in more than 15 years, reaching No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 3 in 007's native England. Madonna also remains one of the only performers of a Bond theme to also appear in the movie, with a cameo as a fencing instructor.
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