Duran Duran’s “A View To A Kill” propelled James Bond into the modern world

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In We’re No. 1, The A.V. Club examines an album or single that went to No. 1 on thecharts to get to the heart of what it means to be popular in pop music, and how that has changed over the years. In this installment, we cover Duran Duran’s “A View To A Kill,” which spent two weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 beginning July 13, 1985.

By 1985, Duran Duran were jetsetting global superstars, MTV darlings, and popular enough to have sold out two nights at Madison Square Garden the previous year. On the charts, things were also going well: The band hit No. 1 in the U.S. and the U.K. with 1984’s “The Reflex,” while their most recent single, “The Wild Boys,” had peaked at No. 2 in both countries. Internally, however, the band was fracturing: Inflated egos and chemically enhanced debauchery were causing issues, and fatigue had set in from their whirlwind rise to fame. In fact, the members of Duran Duran had decided to explore divergent musical interests, in two separate groups. Bassist John Taylor and guitarist Andy Taylor paired off in the funk-inspired The Power Station, while vocalist Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, and drummer Roger Taylor teamed up in the sleek synthpop group Arcadia.

The band’s involvement with A View To A Kill’s theme was instigated by John Taylor—or, more specifically, Taylor’s inebriated bravado. By his recollection, he was drunk at a party thrown to celebrate the end of Wimbledon (hosted by Michael Caine, no less), and spotted Cubby Broccoli, who had produced several seminal Bond films. Taylor’s then-girlfriend, Janine Andrews, who had appeared in 1983’sOctopussy, introduced the two men. Taylor jumped at the chance to brazenly volunteer Duran Duran to record a Bond theme.

“I said, ‘When are you going to have a decent theme song again?’” John Taylor wrote in his memoir, In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, And Duran Duran. “He said, ‘Well, do you want to write the next one?’” The answer was a resounding yes. Taylor met up with Broccoli the next day and spoke with Bond composer John Barry via phone, who agreed to the pairing, albeit perhaps reluctantly. “John didn’t sound particularly overjoyed,” Taylor wrote, “but Cubby was firm about it. ‘I want you to make this work, John.’”

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