Random Tracks: Sheena Easton’s “For Your Eyes Only”

In Random Tracks, I’m reviewing a random hit song from any point in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 going from the chart’s beginning in 1958. If you like what I’m doing, comment and let me know what random Hot 100 hit song you want me to review.

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Sheena Easton- “For Your Eyes Only”

PEAK: #4 on October 17, 1981

SONG AT #1 THAT WEEK: Christopher Cross’ “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)

“For Your Eyes Only,” the title theme to the 12th James Bond movie from then-rising Scottish pop star Sheena Easton is a song that’s been rightly forgotten about today but stands out in one big way. It’s currently the only time an artist appears in a Bond movie to perform their theme while it plays in the opening credits. The only reason Easton is in the movie was because the film’s credit sequence artist Maurice Binder liked her look and decided to include her singing the theme amid the silhouette figures and watery images. 

Both “For Your Eyes Only,” the song, and For Your Eyes Only, the movie, were released in June 1981, only a couple of months before MTV launched yet it feels foreshadowing of the way music videos and movies would become more and more interactive with each other in the years to come. It makes you wonder why the Bond franchise hasn’t had more of its artists appear in their movies to perform their respective themes.

For Your Eyes Only had Bill Conti as its composer, the man who had already become known for his work on the Rocky franchise with the classic montage theme “Gonna Fly Now” from the first movie riding the Rocky phenomenon to #1 on the Hot 100 in 1977. Sheena Easton wasn’t on Conti’s list to sing the theme to For Your Eyes Only. He originally wrote the song, along with songwriter Mike Leeson, envisioning Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, or Dusty Springfield singing it. Blondie was even considered at one point but frontwoman Debbie Harry didn’t like the lyrics and Harry along with the band wrote a theme of their own but it didn’t make it through. United Studios then suggested Sheena Easton who in 1981 was having a big breakout year netting her only US #1 that May with the chintzy and catchy singalong “Morning Train (Nine To Five).” Conti listened to Easton’s debut album Take My Time and while he didn’t like it much he agreed to meet with Easton and after that recorded the theme with Easton’s regular producer Christopher Neil producing.

Listening to “For Your Eyes Only,” you can hear why Conti wasn’t a fan of Sheena Easton and her music. The hard truth here is that Easton just is not the person that can pull off the grand and bombastic quality of a Bond theme. She does her best attempting to hit all the big notes but her voice is too thin and limited to leave any impact showing how out of her depth Easton is. It’s clear from this that Easton’s not exactly a powerhouse singer yet she attempts to anyway and it’s rough. I don’t even like “Morning Train (Nine to Five)” but it honestly fitted Easton’s voice a lot better than “For Your Eyes Only” does.

Even without Easton’s painfully weak singing, the song itself doesn’t do a lot for me. The quiet eerie synths that play in the verses sound cool enough but then those gloopy early ‘80s sounding piano chords come in and I just zone out. Lyrically, “For Your Eyes Only” shares a lot with Carly Simon’s Bond theme “Nobody Does It Better” in how it’s a woman singing about feeling protected by James Bond in a romantic style delivery. Everything she does she does for him. For Easton, she lets Bond know that in his eyes he can see what no one else can see. With the way the song is, I don’t have a reason to care and it doesn’t even have a catchy melody to help it rise above painful mediocrity. I’m not saying it would be automatically better but Streisand, Summer, Springfield, and even Blondie singing this could have turned the song into something memorable and good.

Despite my objections about “For Your Eyes Only,” it did help Sheena Easton build on the success of “Morning Train (Nine To Five)” furthering her hit-making career remaining a star through the rest of the ‘80s in wildly different styles. Soon after, Easton would duet with Kenny Rogers, record songs in Spanish, hook up with Prince, and shift her sound and style to a sexier R&B image working with R&B hitmakers like L.A. Reid and Babyface. It was with those two hitmakers that Easton managed to hit #2 in 1989 with the genuinely fun new jack swing jam “The Lover In Me” that helped to make Easton’s thin voice work for once. (“The Lover In Me” is a 7.) Not bad for a woman from a Scottish steel mill town.

GRADE: 3/10

BONUS BEATS: Here’s the video of the Spice Girls’ Melanie C aka Sporty Spice singing “For Your Eyes Only:”

BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s Freedy Johnston’s cover of “For Your Eyes Only” he contributed to the 2017 Bond theme tribute album Songs, Bond Songs: The Music of 007:

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