Open main menu

The Living Daylights (song)

"The Living Daylights" is a song performed by Norwegian pop group a-ha for the 1987 James Bond film of the same name. It was written by guitarist Pål Waaktaar. After first appearing in the context of the film, a revised version was included in the band's Stay on These Roads studio album, which came out in 1988.

"The Living Daylights"
Single by A-ha
from the album The Living Daylights (soundtrack) and Stay on These Roads
B-side"The Living Daylights" (Instrumental)
Released22 June 1987 (1987-06-22)
  • 4:14 (movie version)
  • 4:46 (album version)
  • 6:48 (extended mix)
  • 4:40 (instrumental version)
LabelWarner Bros.
A-ha singles chronology
"Manhattan Skyline"
"The Living Daylights"
"Stay on These Roads"
James Bond theme singles chronology
"A View to a Kill"
"The Living Daylights"
"Licence to Kill"


Origin and recordingEdit

John Barry was listed on the credits as co-writer and producer, and the initial release of the song was his version. A second version of the song, re-worked by A-ha in 1988, later appeared on their third album, Stay on These Roads. The band prefers their version of the song to Barry's.[citation needed]

When interviewed on a late-night show in 1987, Barry said that he found working with the band exhausting secondary to the band's insistence on using their own version of the song for release.[1] In an interview with Hotrod Magazine, keyboardist Magne Furuholmen said that "[the band's] fight with Barry left a rather unpleasant aftertaste. Apparently, he compared us to Hitlerjugend in a newspaper interview."[2] Waaktaar stated that although Barry produced the track, he never contributed to the songwriting process and should not have been credited as such[1] (the band Duran Duran made similar claims after they worked briefly with Barry on the theme to the previous Bond film, "A View to a Kill", in 1985). However, Waaktaar has also said: "I loved the stuff he [John Barry] added to the track. I mean, it gave it this sort of really cool string arrangement. That's when it, for me, started to sound like a Bond thing."[3]

Release and receptionEdit

"The Living Daylights" was released in the summer of 1987. The song peaked at number five in the United Kingdom and number one in Norway.

The song remains one of a-ha's most played songs in live concerts and has often been extended into a "sing-along" with the audience, as featured on the live album How Can I Sleep with Your Voice in My Head. In live performances, Paul Waaktaar often included the main James Bond Theme in his guitar solo.[citation needed]

Evan Cater of Allmusic said the song was "a strong sample of Seven and the Ragged Tiger-influenced Europop, enhanced by Morten Harket's powerhouse falsetto vocals."[4]

South African heavy metal band The Narrow released a cover version in 2005.[5]

Music videoEdit

The music video, which was directed by Steve Barron, was shot at the 007 Stage in London, which was built specifically for the Bond franchise.[1] It features various scenes from the film projected on to the band as they perform in an empty 007 stage. Separate footage from the movie itself is shown, along with footage from the film traced out and inserted to the footage of the band performing, which was a groundbreaking, yet expensive innovation at that time.

Formats and track listingsEdit

7": Warner Bros. / W 8305 United KingdomEdit

  1. "The Living Daylights" - 4:04
  2. "The Living Daylights" (Instrumental) - 4:36

12": Warner Bros. / W 8305T United KingdomEdit

  1. "The Living Daylights" (Extended Mix) - 6:48
  2. "The Living Daylights" (7 Inch Version) - 4:04
  3. "The Living Daylights" (Instrumental) - 4:36
  • Track 1 is also known as "Extended Version".
  • Also released as a 12" picture disc (W 8305TP)


Weekly chartsEdit

Chart (1987–88) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[6] 29
Austrian Singles Chart[7] 18
Belgian Singles Chart 4
Canadian Singles Chart 35
Danish Singles Chart 7
Dutch Top 40[8] 9
Finnish Singles Chart 4
French Singles Chart[9] 21
German Singles Chart[10] 8
Irish Singles Chart[11] 2
Italian Singles Chart[12] 3
Japanese Singles Chart 42
Luxembourgian Singles Chart 1
New Zealand Singles Chart 50
Norwegian Singles Chart[13] 1
Polish Singles Chart 3
South African Singles Chart 5
Spanish Singles Chart 30
Swedish Singles Chart[14] 3
Swiss Singles Chart[15] 8
UK Singles Chart[16] 5

Year-end chartsEdit

Chart (1988) Peak
German Singles Chart 56
Italian Singles Chart 20

Alternate rejected theme songEdit

Like other Bond themes before it, A-ha's release was not the only recorded song for the film. Synthpop band, Pet Shop Boys also recorded a song for the film that was optioned to the studio. The duo later reworked the song they submitted into "This Must Be the Place I Waited Years to Leave", which was released on their Behaviour. album in 1990.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "The Official Community of A-ha". Archived from the original on December 30, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-15.
  2. ^ "" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-11-26. External link in |title= (help)
  3. ^ "a-ha v John Barry Good Friends REALLY". Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  4. ^ "Allmusic review of The Living Daylights soundtrack album". Retrieved December 21, 2008 (2008-12-21). Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  5. ^ Retrieved 11 March 2014
  6. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). Sydney: Australian Chart Book. p. 13. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  7. ^ "Austrian Singles Chart". Austria Top 40. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
  8. ^ "De Nederlandse Top 40, week 30, 1987". Archived from the original on 2008-08-03. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
  9. ^ "French Singles Chart". Palmares. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
  10. ^ "German Singles Chart". Charts-Surfer. Archived from the original on December 16, 2008. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
  11. ^ "Irish Singles Chart". The Irish Chart. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
  12. ^ "Italian Singles Chart". hitparadeitalia. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
  13. ^ "Norwegian Singles Chart". VG-lista. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
  14. ^ "Swedish Singles Chart". Hitlista. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
  15. ^ "Swiss Singles Chart". Schweizer Hitparade. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
  16. ^ "British Singles Chart". UK Top 40. Retrieved December 21, 2008.

External linksEdit