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The Report

The Kingsman Playlist

Mr David Reid, producer of Kingsman: The Secret Service, goes on record about the tracks used in the film

When we think of our favourite scenes in cinema, the music is often inseparable from the action. “Girls” by Death In Vegas over Mr Bill Murray’s taxi ride in Lost in Translation; “Born to be Wild” in Easy Rider; Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” in The Graduate. Songs heighten emotions and give the viewer a sense of time and place. And before movies had voices – they relied on music. 

The spy genre is no different. Take Mission: Impossible. Would our adrenaline spike as quickly without Mr Lalo Schifrin’s theme? And James Bond would not have had the same allure without Mr John Barry’s genre-defining compositions, or the stellar theme songs of Sir Paul McCartney, Dame Shirley Bassey or even Mr Matt Monro, AKA the Singing Bus Driver. “We knew we’d have to pick six or seven songs that would reflect the madness of the movie,” says Mr David Reid about the music in Kingsman: The Secret Service. Like the film (directed by Mr Matthew Vaughn, the director of Kick-Ass and the producer of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), the music is unpredictable and fun – taking in everything from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” (which was reimagined by Mr Giles Martin – the son of Beatles producer Sir George Martin) to Dizzee Rascal. Messrs Reid and Vaughn trusted their vision and music taste, so building a soundtrack was more organic than methodical.

“We have a music supervisor, but ever since Layer Cake 10 years ago we’ve just chosen what fits. Matthew doesn’t want stuff that will just do,” says Mr Reid. “He likes his music and knows what vibe he’s looking for.” Although much of the process was intuitive, like the Bond series has always done with its opening credits, the songs sometimes reflect current taste but retain a timeless quality. 

Here, Mr Reid discusses each of the tracks in Kingsman. As a musical side dish, we’ve also listed our favourite songs from spy cinema history.

To listen to it all in one place head to Spotify.

“Money for Nothing” – Dire Straits

“For the flashback at the start of the film we wanted something older, so we went back to 1985 for a classic intro. We were looking at other tracks – ‘Some Might Say’ by Oasis, for example – but nothing was working. This was right on the money.”

“Bonkers” – Dizzee Rascal

“This is easy to get into rhythmically, and rhythm is what settles people down. ‘Bonkers’ was used by an editor to cut the car chase to – and it just worked. It’s fun… it lets you in.”

“Feel the Love” – Rudimental

“Rudimental have a Motown, retro sound that fits a spy film perfectly – they mix old and modern. This is just a cool track. It really fitted in with the nightclub scene. It doesn’t interfere with the dialogue.”

“Free Bird” – Lynyrd Skynyrd

“The climactic church scene is five minutes long, so it was hard to find a track to hold the attention. We wanted classic guitar, drums and bass and really high energy. Giles Martin made a new arrangement for us from the original recording at Abbey Road Studios.”

“Give it Up” – KC & the Sunshine Band

“Matthew wanted something to counterpunch the intensity of the fight scene. This is a really old track – and this disco stuff is good for tapping along to.”

“Slave to Love” – Bryan Ferry

“At this stage of the film, we thought, ‘Let’s go back to something loungey and English’,  and there’s no one better than Bryan Ferry for that. It makes you smile.”

“Get Ready for it” – Take That

“Matthew wanted a positive, upbeat song to take us out. This was written for us at a stage when the guys were thinking about their new album.”

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MR PORTER’s all-time favourites from spy cinema 

“North By Northwest”
City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
North By Northwest (1959)
Kobal Collection

“Secret Agent Man”
Johnny Rivers
Danger Man (1960)

“Who Needs Forever?”
Astrud Gilberto
The Deadly Affair (1966)
Allstar Picture Library

“Come Spy With Me”
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
Come Spy With Me (1967)
Allstar Picture Library

“Diamonds are Forever”
Shirley Bassey
Diamonds are Forever (1971)
Moviestore Collection

“Live and Let Die”
Paul McCartney and Wings
Live and Let Die (1973)
Moviestore Collection

“Mission: Impossible”
Lalo Schifrin
Mission: Impossible (1996)

“I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”
Elvis Costello
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
Kobal Collection

“Extreme Ways”
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
Kobal Collection