Every now and then I lament about the digital licensing hell that’s constantly eating our shared cultural history. Or maybe I’m just angry at entropy and lack of foresight with digital archiving? None the less, I’d like to talk about a 20-year-old James Bond song you probably haven’t heard before.
James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing is a third-person shooter game released by EA Games for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube in 2004. It was the third James Bond game by EA Games to feature an original story and the second with its own signature Bond theme song.
The game’s theme song, Everything or Nothing, was performed by Mýa Harrison. Mýa also voiced and lent her likeness to the game character Mya Starling; an NSA agent and the story’s “Bond girl”.
The song is quite catching and a definite product of its time. It’s been two decades since I played the game, and I still occasionally hum the song’s chorus to myself.
Unfortunately, I can’t easily listen to the song to get it out of my head. It’s not currently available for sale or streaming on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, or any of their many competitors.
The song has not been included on any 007 compilation albums or official playlists. None of the other video game-exclusive songs have made it onto a compilation album either. I guess they’re not considered canonical? In my heart, they’re just as much a Bond song as any of the Bond songs from the movies.
According to Mýa’s website, the song appeared on her album Moodring released in 2003. However, modern versions of the album available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and elsewhere don’t feature the song. The album’s page on Wikipedia and other sources also doesn’t list the song.
A single version appeared exclusively on the iTunes Music Store (ITMS) in the United States between 2013 and 2019. It was promoted three times by the artist on Twitter in the last 2018. It was delisted from the ITMS sometime between January and April 2019.
The song has a listing in the music catalog on the music streaming platform Spotify. The song isn’t currently available on the platform. I can’t find any data to suggest that the song has ever been available on the platform.
The song was available as a free download from the game’s page on the EA Games website between 2004 and 2007. The promotional page was created in Macromedia Flash, and thus poorly archived by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. The Wayback Machine did manage to archive a low-fidelity MP3 version of the song (32 kbps) from the Japanese promotional website. So, you can still give it a listen but it doesn’t sound all that good.
That Internet Archive link is the nearest you can get to a legal digital release of the song. This version of the song has been uploaded a thousand times on services like SoundCloud and YouTube. A slightly higher bit-rate version that was ripped from the game’s title screen can also be found. (I’m sure the users who uploaded them didn’t intend any copyright infringements.) 🙄
EA Games’ early rights to distribute the song as a promotional item on the web might be part of why the song’s no longer available. The song is currently owned by Interscope Records, a Universal Music Group (UMG) subsidiary. Mýa’s newer music is released and managed by her own record label.
A lot of the music I liked in the early 2000s just isn’t available anywhere digitally. The music from that middle ground period when artists and record labels began securing digital distribution rights, but no one knew how the digital distribution channels would turn out yet. So, the songs are perpetually stuck in rightsholder limbo. No one wants to renegotiate the contracts to make a few cents off streaming.
The involvement of the 007 brand further complicates matters. Eon Productions, the company managing the 007 brand and producing the movies, guard the brand and rights like a hawk. The (defunct) MGM Interactive game studios and EA Games might also still hold some of the rights. I can only speculate, though.
The previous game in the series, James Bond 007: Nightfire (2002), featured another lost Bond song: Nearly Civilized by Esthero. It’s also not available on any digital music store or streaming service. (Low-fidelity versions can be found through … other channels.) The game is old enough that information about the song and its ownership simply doesn’t exist online.
Listenership information from Last.fm (includes data from 2002 onwards) only logged 1200 listeners for Nearly Civilized. Last.fm (formerly Audioscrobbler) was a hugely popular music recommendation service. Users “scrobbled” (recorded) their music listening history to the service in exchange for personalized recommendations and fancy graphs about their music taste. This might suggest the song was rare and difficult to obtain at the time. Everything or Nothing has had over 8000 listeners.
I’ve reached out to Mýa on Twitter and to her management team via email for comment. Her manager directed me to UMG who didn’t respond to my email.
I’ll end with the lyrics from the catchy chorus from Everything or Nothing: