From Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger,” to Paul McCartney’s “Live & Let Die,” to Adele’s Oscar-winning “Skyfall,” theme songs for James Bond films are a cultural phenomenon all their own.
And in the UK, where citizens can legally place bets on just about anything — sporting events, the Oscars, reality TV show outcomes — betting on who will write and perform the theme for this fall's new Bond film was something new to bet on.
Well, for a while, at least.
The speculation this time around had been particularly frenzied. For a while, it seemed that British singer Sam Smith, a hot commodity lately, was the front-runner; others thought Adele would again be the pick. Then pop singer Ellie Golding posted pictures on Instagram suggesting she'd been recording the theme at Abbey Road studios, and suddenly she was the favorite.
But recently, somebody tried to bet £15,000 (about $23,000) on the band Radiohead — and, just like that, all bets were off. Bookmakers across the UK suspended betting on the Bond theme music.
Rupert Adams, who works in public and media relations for William Hill, the world's biggest bookmaking firm, explains it like this:
“The simple fact is that the average bet taken on what will be the next theme tune for Bond, or who will sing, is somewhere between £8 and £10. So, obviously, alarm bells definitely ring, because it [changes it] from what is probably speculation to what is a person who either genuinely knows or perhaps believes he knows, and attempts to risk this vast some of money on it.”
Bear in mind, he adds, that the odds for Radiohead at the time of the bet were 10 to 1, so the winnings would have been £150,000. “Any good bookmaker would say absolutely no way to a bet that size,” Adams says.
This kind of betting differs from betting on an event like a football match, Adams explains, because there are some people who already know the outcome — insiders who may be tempted to place a bet and score some easy money.
It is a pity in a way, Adams says, because it had turned into a really interesting betting market for the fans.
“I would be very surprised if Radiohead aren't announced as the singers of the next Bond film — although you might find that his agent has whispered to somebody, ‘You know, I think Radiohead is probably going to get it,' and he turns out [to be wrong]. But if I was a betting man — and I am — I would say that Radiohead is definitely going to be announced as the next singers.”