Within a few hours of its release, the new Bond theme sung by teenage pop sensation Billie Eilish has created a storm.
Some fans believe No Time To Die to be ‘spine-tingling’ and ‘atmospheric’ to an Oscar-worthy degree.
Detractors, however, complain that the whispered vocals are dull and that the whole enterprise is a pastiche of the great songs from the era when the franchise was in its pomp.
Particularly beloved of teen girls, she has more than 50 million followers on Instagram and racked up a billion — yes, a billion — streams of her music before she released her debut album last year
As one critic wrote, you can almost hear Shirley Bassey snorting: ‘Sing up!’
But what Eilish has created with her co-writer brother Finneas is a song in her image.
Vulnerable, alienated, and melancholy, the 18-year-old singer is the all-conquering phenomenon of pop music.
She swept the board at the Grammys last month, picking up five awards including all of the so-called ‘big four’ — song of the year, album of the year, record of the year and best new artist.
And, at the Oscars this week, she performed an eerily beautiful cover of The Beatles’ song Yesterday. (Paul McCartney is a huge fan: the Beatles legend spoke to Eilish’s parents on a video-calling app, with Eilish saying later: ‘My mom cried, my dad cried.’)
She can’t escape headlines off-stage either. In an interview with Vogue magazine this month, she accused rappers of ‘lying’ in their lyrics: ‘It’s like, ‘I got my AK-47, and I’m f***in’,’ and I’m like, what? You don’t have a gun. ‘All my b*****s…’ I’m like, which b*****s? That’s posturing, and that’s not what I’m doing.’
She swept the board at the Grammys last month, picking up five awards including all of the so-called ‘big four’ — song of the year, album of the year, record of the year and best new artist
Her comments sparked a huge backlash on social media, with one post saying: ‘Breaking news: Billie Eilish has the same opinions about hip hop as your racist boomer uncle.’
But for the Eilish juggernaut, it was nothing more than a gentle bump in the road.
Particularly beloved of teen girls, she has more than 50 million followers on Instagram and racked up a billion — yes, a billion — streams of her music before she released her debut album last year.
The Californian singer is the first person born in the 21st century to have a No 1 album, and is so young that she has never bought a CD.
Her sound is ‘dark pop’, grim lullabies with a dash of goth, a lot of angst, vocals that are slight and husky and with minimalist backing music, written with her older brother Finneas.
Her image, which she fully controls, is miles from the queasy hyper-sexualised stylings of Little Mix and their PVC bikinis. Eilish favours baggy streetwear, chunky chains, long acrylic nails and hair dyed in neon shades.
As one critic wrote, you can almost hear Shirley Bassey (seen above) snorting: ‘Sing up!’ But what Eilish has created with her co-writer brother Finneas is a song in her image
Home-schooled, she has come through a period of self-harming, required therapy to cope with fame and suffers from Tourette’s.
She sings about Xanax (an anti-anxiety drug), friendships and suicidal thoughts. In her hit single Bad Guy she says: ‘I’m the bad type, make-your-mama-sad type . . . might-seduce-your-dad type.’ All of which does not sound as if she belongs in the Martinis-and-Aston-Martins glamour of a Bond film.
Artists who have previously suited the franchise have tended to be divas and torch singers such as Shirley Bassey, Adele and Sam Smith.
However, in a bold move, producers chose her to bring a new, modern sensibility to Bond.
Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson said she had ‘written an incredibly powerful and moving song for No Time To Die, which has been impeccably crafted to work within the emotional story of the film’.
So who is Billie Eilish — and how did she become so enormously successful? Born in December 2001, her full name is Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell.
Parents Maggie and Patrick, both actors, named her Billie after her paternal grandfather who died before she was born, and Eilish after conjoined twin Eilish Holton, whom they had seen in a documentary. Pirate was the choice of her brother Finneas. She was raised in a two-bedroomed bungalow in LA, and still lives there.
Dad Patrick appeared in Iron Man and The West Wing and worked as a handyman to make ends meet, while mum Maggie taught aerial acrobatics.
It was a far from conventional family. Billie suffered from severe separation anxiety and slept in her parents’ bed until she was 10.
Home-schooling allowed the children to explore their interests, and the rule was that anyone playing music would not be sent to bed.
Finneas started writing and recording his own music aged 12, Billie wrote her first song on the ukulele, aged seven.
Her sound is ‘dark pop’, grim lullabies with a dash of goth, a lot of angst, vocals that are slight and husky and with minimalist backing music, written with her older brother Finneas
She was always set on fame — of some kind — and joined the prestigious LA Children’s Chorus.
She considered acting and made many home movies, but disliked auditions.
Meanwhile, Finneas, three years her senior, had landed acting parts in the TV shows Glee and Modern Family, and had formed a band.
Billie said last year: ‘I was soooo jealous. I wanted it so bad, it was not great. It really did not sit well with me when Finneas was the star of the family.’
The two of them wrote a song, Ocean Eyes, for Billie’s dance teacher. It was uploaded to the SoundCloud website, and became phenomenally successful.
Within weeks she had professional management. She carried on releasing the music they wrote in their bedroom, and was eventually signed by Universal, aged 14.
Her greatest desire is to retain complete creative control. She said last year: ‘I would rather not do anything at all than not be in control of it all.’
Her videos and photo shoots are her domain, as is all merchandising and music-writing. She recently signed a deal with the TV service Apple+ to make a documentary about her life for a phenomenal $25 million (£19 million).
Her fortune is estimated at around £40 million, and rising.
Her next stop is the Brit Awards on Tuesday, where she is nominated for International Female Solo Artist, and will perform that Bond hit.
Above all she says she has learned: ‘It’s a very hard world and it’s a lot of work.’