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Billie Eilish lands number one with James Bond theme

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No Time To Die by Billie Eilish has become only the second-ever James Bond theme song to reach the top of the UK singles chart.

Sam Smith had the only other 007 chart success, when Writing’s On The Wall from Spectre went top in 2015.

Eilish, who turned 18 in December, is the youngest artist ever to record a track for the Bond franchise.

The star performed No Time to Die live for the first time this week, at the Brit Awards in London.

She also picked up the prize for best international female at the ceremony.

  • Billie Eilish’s Bond theme is dramatic and audacious
  • The Brits mark turning 40 by refusing to look back

No Time To Die racked up 90,000 equivalent chart sales in its first week; including 10.6 million streams.

That makes it the biggest track of the year so far and also the fastest-selling Bond song (Smith’s shifted 70,000 in its first week).

‘Insane writer’s block’

Speaking to BBC Breakfast this week, Eilish said that her and brother/musical partner Finneas O’Connell had suffered an “intense amount of writer’s block” as soon as they were given the nod to produce the track.

Having made an unsuccessful attempt at writing it in a traditional recording studio, they eventually came up with the goods while on the road.

“We wrote and recorded the Bond song on a tour bus in Texas,” explained O’Connell.

A meeting with the Bond film boss Barbara Broccoli in Ireland, following one of their live shows, helped the writing process as she gave then “a little hint of the first scene”.

Broccoli followed that up by sending the pair the script for the opening sequence.

“It was so cool to read that,” said Eilish. “It was really helpful, it really wrote the song for us, I think”.

The finished song is a dramatic, unsettling ballad that hints the plot will centre around the secret agent’s betrayal, the BBC’s Mark Savage noted last week.

The lyrics to No Time To Die reference lies and deceit, as Eilish sings: “You were never on my side.”

Daniel Craig’s final outing as the world’s most famous British secret agent arrives in cinemas in April, and Eilish said the actor had a “big say” in who wrote the film’s opening track.

She admitted they’d already seen a “half-done” version of version of the film (minus their track), which looked “amazing”.

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Licence to win: Eilish was issued with her number one trophy by the Official Charts Company

The star performed the new song alongside an orchestra, Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr and composer Han Zimmer at Tuesday’s Brit Awards.

Speaking to the BBC’s Colin Paterson backstage, she dedicated the performance to her fans.

“It was really nice that there were fans right up front that I could look at and smile at. I feel like that was the peak of it for me,” she said.

“They always prove to me every time I doubt myself that I don’t need to, because they are there.”

She added: “They really make me feel better about myself and make me feel like everything I do is worth it… I’m human, man!”

Eilish also revealed that her own favourite ever Bond song is… Adele’s Skyfall.

“I dunno, Adele is just Adele,” she laughed. “You’ve gotta give it to her.”

How have other Bond themes fared in the charts?

While Eilish and Smith reached the chart summit, two other official songs from the movie have taken the number two spot.

Duran Duran’s A View To A Kill peaked at number two in 1985, as did Adele’s Skyfall in 2012.

Despite winning an Oscar and a Golden Globe, Adele’s effort was denied top spot by Swedish House Mafia’s Don’t You Worry Child.

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Billie Eilish wrote the new song alongside her brother and musical partner Finneas O’Connell

Shirley Bassey’s Goldfinger, in 1964, could only reach number 21 and when the Welsh singer returned in 1971 declaring Diamonds Are Forever, she went to number 38.

Sir Paul McCartney and his post-Beatles band Wings faired slightly better two years later with Live and Let Die reaching ninth place.

The worst performing Bond song was Rita Coolidge’s All Time High which reached 75th place in the charts in 1983.


Eilish’s 2019 album, When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go?, went to number one on its release in April last year, making her the youngest-ever female solo artist to top the album chart.

Almost a year on, the indefatigable record is still hanging around in fourth spot in the album charts, where this week Justin Bieber snatched his second number one with Changes.

Renewed interest in Lewis Capaldi following his Brits double win ensured he pushed Bieber all the way, while Tame Impala’s new album The Slow Rush – the week’s best-selling album on vinyl – went in at number three.

Fewer than 1,200 chart sales separated the top three.


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Van Gogh painting Spring Garden stolen from Dutch museum

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A Van Gogh painting has been stolen from a museum in the Dutch town of Laren.

Police said on Monday there had been a break in at the Singer Laren Museum at 03:15 local time (02:15 GMT).

The museum later announced that Van Gogh’s Spring Garden, on loan from the Groninger Museum, was missing.

The Singer Laren Museum is closed due to the coronavirus. Its director, Jan Rudolph de Lorm, told reporters he was “incredibly pissed off” over the theft.

The value of the painting is not currently known.

The museum was created in the 1950s to host the collection of US artist William Henry Singer and his wife Anna.

On Monday the Dutch health ministry reported 11,750 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country, and a total of 864 deaths.



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Author Michael Rosen ‘poorly but stable’ say family

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Former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen is “very poorly at the moment” and spent a night in intensive care, his family have said.

The statement on Twitter said he was “now doing OK” and was “stable” and “alert” having been moved to a ward on Sunday.

It is not known whether the 73-year-old’s condition is related to the coronavirus.

The children’s novelist and poet was Children’s Laureate from 2007 to 2009.

His many works for children include We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Little Rabbit Foo Foo and Tiny Little Fly.

Cressida Cowell, author of the How to Train Your Dragon series, said she hoped he would “recover swiftly”.

Rosen’s family thanked all his Twitter followers “for all their kind concern”.





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Arts go interactive during coronavirus lockdown

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The Royal Academy of Dance’s Silver Swans, pictured before the recent restrictions

As Britain begins its second week under strict conditions restricting movements and gatherings, arts organisations are getting creative in their attempts to interact with patrons.

The Getty Museum in the US, for example, has found a novel way for art lovers to engage with its collection.

Later this week the Royal Academy of Dance is launching a weekly series of online ballet classes, specifically tailored for the over-55s.

Theatres are now closed all across the country. But that doesn’t mean theatre lovers are being denied the joys of the communal experience.

Choirmaster Gareth Malone, meanwhile, is assembling a Great British Home Chorus to get us singing together even while we are apart.

Art imitating life

Based in Los Angeles, the J Paul Getty Museum is home to works by Rembrandt, Cezanne and hundreds of other world-renowned artists.

When the museum closed to the public on 14 March, its social media team started looking for ways to keep its audience entertained.

The answer lay in a Dutch Instagram account featuring elaborate recreations of works by Frida Kahlo, Rene Magritte and others.

The Getty put its own spin on the idea, inviting its followers to recreate artworks using three things lying around their houses.

Art fans jumped at the challenge, deploying everyday items, relatives and even pets to emulate works by Monet, Warhol and others.

One participant used coffee filters to make a mock-up of a ruff worn by one of El Greco’s subjects.

Another employed a shower cap and her own baby bump to replicate Raphael’s La donna gravida.

Bread, jam and a biscuit, meanwhile, were used to fashion an edible version of The Scream that certainly puts the munch into Edvard Munch.

“We are loving all your creative recreations,” the museum tweeted, exhorting its followers to “keep sharing”.

Keep dancing

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Royal Academy of Dance

Millions know Angela Rippon for the glamorous dance routine she performed with Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise in 1976.

Forty-four years on, the former newsreader is still championing the terpsichorean arts in her role as Royal Academy of Dance ambassador.

Since 2017, the HealthCheck UK presenter has been raising awareness for the RAD’s Silver Swans project, branded ballet classes aimed at the over-55s.

This week the RAD is putting those classes online in the hope they will encourage older audiences to “unleash their inner dancer”.

“It’s a series of exercises that anyone can do at any level, that you can do at home in a small personal space,” Rippon told BBC News.

“You’re not going to be flying across the room like Carlos Acosta – you can do most of them holding on to something solid.”

According to Rippon, though, it’s not just the body that gets a workout.

“You’re having to use your brain as well so it’s a mental as well as a physical exercise,” she explained.

“It makes you feel good physically, but it makes you feel good psychologically too.”

The first online tutorial goes online on Wednesday, with new classes released weekly over the next nine weeks.

All the world’s a stage

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The closure of the UK’s theatres and performing arts venues has left the industry mired in turmoil and uncertainty.

With its base shuttered indefinitely, though, the National Theatre has decided to make some of its older productions accessible to a wider audience.

From 2 April, some productions previously screened in cinemas will be put on YouTube for theatre lovers to watch free of charge.

They include the comedy One Man, Two Guvnors starring James Corden; adaptations of the novels Jane Eyre and Treasure Island; and a production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night starring Tamsin Greig.

The Hampstead Theatre in north London is also putting some of its plays online, starting this week with its 2016 staging of Mike Bartlett’s Wild.

If recent TV dramas Belgravia and The English Game haven’t sated your Julian Fellowes cravings, meanwhile, a 2017 recording of his musical version of The Wind in the Willows can also be streamed for free.

Lisa Burger, the National’s executive director, said its “varied” programme meant there would be “something for everyone to enjoy from their own homes”.

“We will be streaming each production at the same time each week in order to recreate, where possible, the communal viewing experience,” she added.

Roxana Silbert, the Hampstead’s artistic director, said its own offerings over the next three weeks would give audiences “entertainment, connection and nourishment in a time of uncertainty and isolation”.

The show, they say, must go on – something that producer Robert Myles has taken to heart.

He and a group of actors are gathering every Thursday to live stream performed readings of Shakespeare’s Complete Works.

So far they have tackled The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Taming of the Shrew, with the first part of Henry VI to follow later this week.

Sing for your supper

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Self-isolation is proving no hindrance to Gareth Malone’s new project, an online response to the nationwide closure of communal rehearsal places.

More than 160,000 people took part in the first rehearsal last week on YouTube.

“It is amazing how many people have signed up,” said Malone, promising to create something “really wonderful and inspiring”.

Those who have got involved have extolled the virtues of being part of what is now a globe-spanning venture.

“Amazing how a bit of singing lifts my spirits,” wrote one participant, while another said they were “absolutely loving the choir”.

“This is a wonderful idea,” wrote another choir member. “Thank you so much Gareth and everyone who is making this possible.”

For Angela Rippon, organisations and initiatives like the ones above are in an ideal position to appeal to a largely housebound populace.

“This is a great opportunity to reach a wider audience than they ever have before,” she said.

“Millions of us are in lockdown in our own homes and have the chance to do things we never felt we could.”





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