Rejected movie songs: original songs that didn't make the cut
Brilliant songs that were turned down for the movies they were meant to be in.
Rejection. It comes to us all, one way or another. Whether you're hawking the first draft of your novel, being passed over for promotion, or being told you're "just good friends" by a possible suitor, it's a crushing feeling.
Of course, the road to Hollywood is strewn with trampled-on souls whose work wasn't deemed 'fit for purpose'. Among them some of the most famous musicians the world has ever seen.
Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie and Paul McCartney have all written songs for films and had them rejected.
Take a look at our list below (which includes an unfeasible amount of would-be Bond themes) and rest easy in the knowledge that even heroes and icons know what it's like to be told their work stinks.
Rejected movie songs
1. Bob Dylan's Lay Lady LayListen on Spotify
Originally recorded for:Midnight Cowboy (1969)
In 1968, Bob Dylan was asked to submit a song for the Jon Voight/Dustin Hoffman picture Midnight Cowboy. Though he wrote Lay Lady Lay for this purpose, he failed to complete it in time and Nilsson’s cover of the Fred Neil song Everybody’s Talkin’ was used instead. One of Bob’s finest, Lay Lady Lay appeared on 1969’s Nashville Skyline album.
2. Radiohead's SpectreListen on Spotify
This beautiful, haunting song would have been a fantastic addition to Spectre but it wasn't meant to be. Radiohead wasn't shy in hiding away its rejected song, though, which was shunned in favour of Sam Smith's Writing's On The Wall - and duly released it on Christmas Day, 2015, as a free download.
3. Pulp's Tomorrow Never LiesListen on Spotify
Originally recorded for:Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Another Bond-theme melée occurred in 1997, as several artists submitted themes for the second of the Pierce Brosnan-era movies. Pulp (who named their song Tomorrow Never Lies, after the short story the film was based on) delivered this solid - but rejected - effort, while Saint Etienne, Marc Almond and k.d. lang (whose song was at least used on the end credits) were all rebuffed. Instead, the producers went with Sheryl Crow. Cheers guys.
4. The Fall's unknown song
Originally recorded for: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 (2012)
Speaking to Radar magazine, Mark E Smith - the dearly departed singing of The Fal - revealed that his band had (unbelievably) submitted a song for the final instalment of The Twilight Saga. Sadly, there is no audio record of what the grizzled legends put forward, but it was described by entertainment site Inquisitr as "a really bizarre track" made up of "a haunting two-note riff with Smith shrieking and grumbling over the top." Yep, sounds like The Fall.
5. Alex North's 2001: A Space OdysseyListen on YouTube
Originally recorded for: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Alex North’s 2001: A Space Odyssey score was pulled by Stanley Kubrick during the film’s post-production. The decision was so last minute that the composer didn’t even know his music had been binned until he saw it on screen at the premiere. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine the film’s final soundtrack, featuring classical pieces including Johann Strauss’s The Blue Danube and Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra
6. Dionne Warwick / Shirley Bassey's Mr Kiss, Kiss, Bang, BangListen on Spotify
Originally recorded for: Thunderball (1965)
Another potential theme for the James Bond film Thunderball, this song was a massive waste of everyone's time. It was recorded twice (first by Bassey, then by Warwick) before finally being rejected in favour of a song that had the same name as the film. Tom Jones recorded a new theme and Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (taken from a French journalist's description of Bond's M.O.) was forgotten about, remaining unheard until the 1990s.
7. Haim's Little of Your LoveListen on Spotify
Originally recorded for: Trainwreck
Indie stalwarts Haim are no strangers to the movies, with Alana Haim starring in Licorice Pizza, but one of their tracks wasn't picked for comedy Trainwreck as it was a little bit too airy for the film. The feel-good nature of the song was a tipping off point for their second album, though, so there was an upside to getting rejected.
8. Frank Ocean's Wise ManListen on YouTube
Originally recorded for: Django Unchained (2012)
This Frank Ocean ballad was unceremoniously chopped from the Django Unchained soundtrack at the last minute. Quentin Tarantino explained: "[Frank Ocean] wrote a fantastic ballad that was truly lovely and poetic in every way, there just wasn't a scene for it. I could have thrown it in quickly just to have it, but that's not why he wrote it and not his intention. So I didn't want to cheapen his effort."
9. Johnny Cash's ThunderballListen on Spotify
Originally recorded for:Thunderball (1965)
In 1965, the theme to Thunderball was in development hell. Originally scheduled to be Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, first performed by Shirley Bassey and then re-recorded by Dionne Warwick, the song was pulled when United Artists insisted that the film and its theme should share the same name. Country music legend Johnny Cash stepped into the breach and submitted this song which includes the distinctly un-English-gent-sounding line, “Sometimes there’s a man who can stop this thing in time.” All it's missing is a "yee-haw!". The studio went with Tom Jones instead.
10. RZA's Miami Vice themeListen on YouTube
Originally recorded for: Miami Vice (2006)
Wu-Tang leader RZA was originally down to score Michael Mann's big-screen Miami Vice reboot. However, he parted ways with the film not long after starting work on it. This instrumental bootleg of his proposed main theme is all that remains.
11. David Bowie's The Man Who Fell To EarthListen on Spotify
Originally recorded for:The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976)
David Bowie was working on a full soundtrack to the Nick Roeg film, in which he played the lead role. However, the director didn't think the songs were appropriate. Subterraneans, a collaboration with Brian Eno, later appeared on 1977's Low, which would turn out to be a landmark Bowie album. Another song, Wheels, remains unreleased.
12. Johnny Jewel's Drive soundtrackListen on Spotify
Originally recorded for: Drive (2011)
Johnny Jewel is a member of the bands Desire and Chromatics (who are also signed to his label, Italians Do It Better), both of whom have songs on the soundtrack to Nicolas Wending Refn’s Drive. However, he recorded a full Drive soundtrack, most of which the studio rebuffed in favour of music by Cliff Martinez. The rejected compositions (all 37 of them) were released by Jewel and his Chromatics bandmate Nat Walker as Symmetry’s Themes For An Imaginary Film in 2011. A video was made for The Hunt where the music finishes well before the visuals – a subtle comment from Jewel that his music didn’t fit with the film?
13. Pixies' Bam ThwokListen on YouTube
Originally recorded for:Shrek 2 (2004)
What's the first thing you do if you're one of the most influential bands of the last 0 years and you reunite? That's right: record a song for an animated movie about an ogre and a talking donkey. Sadly, the producers of Shrek 2 just weren't into the Pixies' first new material in over a decade. Bam Thwock got thwacked.
14. James Brown's The PaybackListen on Spotify
Originally recorded for: Hell In Harlem (1973)
Brown's double album The Payback was intended to provide the soundtrack to the Blaxploitation movie Hell In Harlem. However, the producers dismissed his efforts as "the same old James Brown stuff," and enlisted Edwin Starr to record a new score in its place. Despite this tepid reception, The Payback is now regarded as a landmark funk album. Oops...
15. Paul McCartney/Wings' Song: Same Time Next Year / Did We Meet Somewhere Before?Listen on YouTube
Originally recorded for: Same Time Next Year (1978) / Heaven Can Wait (1978)
1978 was a bad year for Macca soundtrack-wise. First, the sentimental ballad Same Time Next Year was turned down for the Ellen Burstyn and Alan Alda movie of the same name. Second, he was told 'no' for Did We Meet Somewhere Before? intended as the theme for the Warren Beatty vehicle Heaven Can Wait.
16. Alice Cooper's The Man With The Golden GunListen on YouTube
Originally recorded for:The Man With The Golden Gun (1976)
Shock-rocker Alice Cooper submitted this song for Roger Moore's second outing as Bond. The producers went with Lulu instead.
17. Black Rain's Johnny Mnemonic soundtrackListen on Spotify
Originally recorded for: Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
Most of New York industrial duo Black Rain's score for Johnny Mnemonic was cut from the finished movie. Given that the recordings have since been released to critical acclaim, the decision is baffling.
18. Bruce Springsteen's I'll Stand By YouListen on Spotify
Originally recorded for: Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone (2001)
An outtake from The Boss's sessions for his 2002 album The Rising, this song had achieved mythical status among Springsteen fans, partly because it has never been publicly heard. Allegedly only five copies were made of the song, with the express purpose of pitching it for Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone. It didn't make the cut but was finally released for the rather brilliant Blinded By The Light movie.
19. Pet Shop Boys' This Must Be The Place I Waited Years To LeaveListen on Spotify
Originally recorded for:The Living Daylights (1987)
This song was recorded for The Living Daylights, Timothy Dalton's debut as James Bond, though A-Ha's submission was ultimately preferred. Still, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe got to be in The Archers this year, where they were chatted up by Lynda Snell. In your face, A-Ha!
20. The Smithereens' A Girl Like YouListen on Spotify
Originally recorded for: Say Anything (1989)
Cameron Crowe approached New Jersey rock band The Smithereens to record a theme for his upcoming directorial debut, Say Anything, starring John Cusack and Ione Skye. However, A Girl Like You was ultimately rejected because it "revealed too much of the plot", according to the band's Dennis Diken.
- Alternative James Bond Songs: the 007 tunes that could have been.