Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke, Sam Smith, and Billie Eilish do not appear to have much in common besides being musicians. They probably share space on a few of the same Spotify playlists. Technically, none of the three are even from the same generation. Yet, one magical night back in March all three were in the same location at the same time, and months later the public is still trying to piece together exactly what happened and who was shady towards who as the participants reveal their take from the encounters in interviews. It’s part Rashomon, part high school lunch table-style gossip.
The night in question was Eilish’s London show at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire music venue. Eilish, of course, was there to perform. Yorke, meanwhile, accompanied his daughter Agnes to the show (born in 2004, Agnes is in the exact age demographic of most of Eilish’s fans). Yorke’s girlfriend, the Italian actress Dajana Roncione, and one of Agnes’s friends were with them, and the party was seated at a balcony close to the stage. A row behind them, though a few seats down, sat Smith, there on his own accord with a friend.
A recording of the moment, catching Eilish on stage, while Smith and Yorke bop separately on the balcony made the rounds shortly afterwards.
Now, if you weren’t aware, Yorke and Smith have some beef. You see, back in 2015 Radiohead was initially selected to record the theme song to the James Bond film Spectre. The band decided to submit an old song they had written in the ’90s, but Bond producers rejected it on the grounds that because it wasn’t written for the film it wouldn’t be eligible for an Oscar nomination. So Radiohead ended up heading into the studio to record a new song, aptly titled “Spectre”. Producers, however, found the song a bit too slow and sad for a Bond opening number. Radiohead ended up releasing it for free online, where it was generally greeted warmly by music critics and fans. Admittedly though, it does lack that layer of pomp and drama that one usually associates with a Bond theme.
Producers decided to move on, and asked Smith to step in to record his own theme song. Along with producer Jimmy Napes, Smith wrote and recorded “Writing’s on the Wall” in a rushed session. Despite initial disappointment amongst Twitter fans and critics, the song ended up becoming the first Bond theme to hit number one of the UK charts and won that sweet, sweet Oscar that Bond producers wanted so desperately.
Apparently, there’s been some tension between Smith and Yorke ever since.
After winning a Golden Globe for the song, Smith was asked backstage if he was surprised Thom Yorke had released Radiohead’s version online. He replied in a way that had many wondering if he even knew who Thom Yorke was, at least by name. “Thom Yorke?” Smith asked. The reporter had to clarify who that was for Smith before the singer continued, “Yeah, I was a little bit surprised. Not going to lie, a little bit surprised, but I haven’t listened to it personally because I did the Spectre theme song.”
Yorke didn’t respond, until, of course, he brought up the night of attending the Eilish concert in an interview earlier this month with Britain’s Sunday Times.
“We sat down and what’s-his-name — the guy who did the Bond film we didn’t do?” he asked the interview.
We will not wager whether Yorke truly couldn’t remember Smith’s name or if he was trying to get back at Smith for not knowing his.
“That’s it,” Yorke said after being informed of Smith’s name. “He stands behind us, and I’m sitting with my daughter, her friends and my girlfriend, when suddenly everyone goes, ‘Saaam!’”
“I’m, like, ‘Aaaargh!’” he concluded.
Of course, the story doesn’t end there, because afterwards Yorke went backstage to meet Eilish.
While his daughter might have been the one to drag him to the concert, apparently he’s quite fond of what she’s doing.
“She’s doing her own thing. Nobody’s telling her what to do,” he said.
So what does Eilish think of all of this? Well, in her new Rolling Stone cover story, her manager Brian Marquis recounts what happened when Yorke came backstage at one of her gigs (we’re assuming the one that Smith also attended, unless Yorke has attended more than one Eilish concert).
“He was just as you’d expect — curmudgeonly, perturbed,” Marquis said of Yorke (as Yorke admitted he was all ‘like, ‘Aaaargh!’ because of Smith’s presence).
Marquis says that he then went up to Eilish and mumbled, “You’re the only one doing anything fucking interesting nowadays.”
Eilish then responded, “. . . thank you?” Though, Eilish’s brother later informed the star that “That’s the coolest thing anyone’s ever said to you.”
Of course, how was Eilish or her team to know that he had been seated next to someone he previously had Bond theme drama with?
Smith, nor anyone in his camp, have recounted their take on the night. For that matter, neither Smith or Eilish have ever publicly mentioned each other as far as we can tell. So, we don’t quite have the full take on exactly what happened that night, and even if we had more perspective, much like Rashomon or high school gossip we may never know the real truth.
If anything, though, this just makes us realizes that Eilish could be capable of a unique Bond theme. She is, apparently, the only one doing anything fucking interesting nowadays after all.