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19 Songs Rejected For Movies

19 Songs Rejected For Movies

19 Songs Rejected For Movies

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.

(Images: Rex)

Frank Ocean 

Song:Wise Man

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."

Johnny Cash

Song: Thunderball

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.

Ed Sheeran

Song:I See Fire 

Originally recorded for:The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) (...allegedly)

Ed Sheeran submitted songs for the Twilight and Hunger Games soundtracks, but was roundly turned away. Last year, entertainment site Bustle alleged that he might have recycled the rejected Hunger Games song for The Hobbit: The Desolation Of SmaugI See Fire is used on the film's end credits. Give it a listen and see what you think...


Song:Miami Vice theme

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. 

David Bowie

Song:The Man Who Fell To Earth soundtrack

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.


Song: Tomorrow Never Lies

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.

The Fall

Song: Unknown

Originally recorded for: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 (2012)

Speaking to Radar magazine last year, Mark E Smith - music's most famous curmudgeon - 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. 

Alex North

Song: More like an entire soundtrack.

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, as being anything else. You can hear North’s soundtrack, as it was originally intended, here.

Bob Dylan

Song:Lay Lady Lay

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.

Johnny Jewel

Song: More like a whole soundtrack.

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?


Song: Bam Thwock

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 20 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.

James Brown

Song: The Payback (plus the double LP of the same name)

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...

Paul McCartney/Wings

Song: Same Time Next Year / Did We Meet Somewhere Before?

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 (above) 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.

Alice Cooper

Song: The Man With The Golden Gun

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.

Black Rain

Song: Yet another abandoned soundtrack.

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. It also begs a further question: if the producers were so keen to hack out all the dead wood, how come they kept Keanu Reeves in it? 

Bruce Springsteen

Song: I'll Stand By You Always (Song For Harry Potter)

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 has 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. However, this was stymied by a clause in J.K. Rowling's contract which forbids any popular music be included on the films' soundtracks.

Pet Shop Boys

Song: This Must Be The Place I Waited Years To Leave

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! 

The Smithereens

Song:A Girl Like You

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.

Dionne Warwick / Shirley Bassey

Song: Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

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.