‘You Only Live Twice’: Behind The ‘Mad Men’ Song

If Nancy Sinatra tune that closed out AMC drama's season-five finale sounded familiar, we'll tell you why.

Last fall, assurgent rap titans Drake and Rick Ross announced plans for a two-way mixtape, Y.O.L.O. (You Only Live Once). The project borrowed its title from the Toronto MC’s “The Motto,” and quickly spawned a million shoulder-shrugging tweets. But on Sunday night, the Teflon Don was overtaken by another Don, as
AMC’s dapper hero got his swag back on the “Mad Men” finale .

As season five of the Matthew Weiner series drew to a close, ad man Don Draper — having left the Mrs. at an acting job — dealt two female admirers at a bar a split-second look that effortlessly projected equal parts lust and mischief. And while Jon Hamm’s expression would have been enough to loosen the most tightly secured underpinnings, the sound of Nancy Sinatra crooning “You Only Live Twice” cemented the moment … and sent the hash tag #YOLT multiplying into the Twittersphere.

If the lilting Sinatra tune sounded familiar, though, it’s because the song has pop cultural bone fides that stretch from 007 to U.K. pop royalty.

“You only live twice / Or so it seems / One life for yourself, and one for your dreams,” Sinatra sings on a number that first appeared in the 1967 James Bond film of the same name. “You Only Live Twice” is the fifth in the spy series and featured Sean Connery as the martini-drinking secret agent. Composer John Barry reportedly considered this installment in the franchise his favorite.

Three decades later, in 1998, ex boy-bander Robbie Williams would liberally sample the opening strings and horns on “Twice” for his hit “Millennium.” The single led the Brit’s second solo album, I’ve Been Expecting You, and became his first to top the U.K. charts. Abandoning the Leslie Bricusse-penned lyrics of the original, Williams and his co-writers created a bit of social commentary for their pre-Y2K smash.

The flamboyant Cee Lo Green also took a liking to Barry’s infectious tune, sprinkling it on his “Bright Lights Bigger City,” which appears on the ATL crooner’s Lady Killer album.

Still, for all its modern interpretations, on Sunday night, the woozy “Twice” sounded as if it were made for Weiner’s ’60s drama.

Share your thoughts on the “Mad Men” season finale in the comments!

@rebeccabuilds Senior Yoga Correspondent, Hip-Hop Devotee, NYC Native, Dreamer.