Desperately Seeking Adele 2.0: The Search for the Next Bond Theme Singer

Sam Smith says he's out of the race, despite being the virtually perfect choice. Who else could fill Adele's Oscar-shaped shoes?

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Few questions in pop culture create as much sturm und drang as guessing who the next James Bond theme singer will be. The only comparable question is perhaps "who will the next Super Bowl performer be," and that's all for a ten-minute show. Bond themes last a lifetime, being welcomed into a culturally significant canon.

Adele's Oscar-winning Skyfall theme from two years ago has created sizable expectations for the next film. Sam Smith, the rising British star, would seem to be a smart choice. Yet in an interview with NME, Smith discounted the rumors that he would be taking the reins.

If not Smith, then who? We've got eight ideas – some old, some new, some too perfect, and some just right – in case producers need some help finding the perfect voice for Bond's next adventure.

Fresh Young Choices

Going electronic would be a different kind of move for the Bond franchise, but would it be that unexpected? This is the team that went with Jack White and Alicia Keys for Quantum of Solace, after all. So James Blake, the British singer/songwriter who has a killer electrosoul sound, may not be as unlikely as you would guess – even if he's yet to really make a name for himself in the U.S.

Even less known stateside is Jess Glynne, who had a minor hit this summer with "Rather Be" but has otherwise not quite broken out. Choosing her would be a risk, but she's got the chops. Her tone is also very Bondian – clearly British, quite rich. They'll never pick her, but she'd be better than a lot of the expected choices.

Should Have Recorded One By Now

Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name" was disappointing in 2006, but it's even moreso when you imagine what Kelly Clarkson would have done in her prime. She's reminiscent of the last batch of Bond theme singers in a way – Sheryl Crow, Madonna, etc. But Clarkson's a power singer the likes of which Bond hasn't seen since the days of Shirley Bassey. Plus, her American Idol performance of "Stuff Like That There" proves she's more than capable of handling a big, bombastic song.

Such a shame that Celine Dion's career is on hiatus, because she really should have a Bond theme to her credit at this point. Looking at the line of people who have held the high honor. makes this all the more perplexing. Sheryl Crow needed to do a Bond theme before Celine? Really? Not only is Celine responsible for one of the biggest movie ballads ever, she also did a great version of "If You Asked Me To," the Patti LaBelle/License to Kill theme. She's earned this.

Almost Too Perfect

Sometimes, a great Bond theme is done by an artist totally at the top of their game. That's what happened with Adele and "Skyfall" just two years ago. So it's not hard to imagine Beyoncé getting the nod here. Her theme would likely hit the "Tina Turner's 'GoldenEye'" sweet spot, plus the signature Bey brassiness. She could write the definitive Bond girl theme – though, of course, she would insist on calling it "Bond Woman."

Meanwhile, there's our reigning soundtrack queen Lana Del Rey. After having knocked "Young & Beautiful" out of the park on the Great Gatsby soundtrack, she followed it up with an eerie rendition of "Once Upon a Dream" for Maleficent. Could she complete the trifecta with a Bond theme? A mumbly throwback with lots of references to the franchise history could be just the thing for her.

Just Right

Considering Adele's success with "Skyfall" last year, the Bond film producers may want to stick in that same lane: British singer/songwriter with pipes for days. If that's the case, they can't do much better than Florence Welch. The frontwoman of Florence + the Machine has shown she can do mysterious really well ("Seven Devils"), and she's still young enough to be considered a 'cool' choice. She'd be pretty perfect for it.

The other perfect choice, albeit a less obvious one, is Rihanna. The Barbadian songstress may be known best for her dance jams, but she can turn out one hell of a slow burn. "Stay" is perhaps her most popular ballad, but "Take a Bow," "Russian Roulette," and especially the slinky "Unfaithful" also suggest she could produce a killer torch song. Most importantly, Rihanna has a sense of danger to her work (see: the entirety of Rated R); mixed with her sexy side, she might be exactly what the next Bond film needs.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.