With Spectre just around the corner, George Griffiths counts down his ten favourite Bond songs.
The James Bond franchise is the longest running in cinema history (only the now-defunct Carry On franchise has more entries); stretching almost 60 decades, 25 films and 6 Bonds. The high points are certainly high – Goldfinger is basically the greatest spy movie ever put to film – and the low points are incredibly low – Octopussy, obviously – but you could make a very valid argument that any Bond film is only as good as its theme song. Like the film series itself, the theme song has become a celebrated – and eagerly anticipated – outlet for getting some of the world’s most popular and enduring acts to belt out a smashing spy song, with Sam Smith most recently taking on the mantle for the newest film, Spectre, and not doing a very good job. Take a look with Redbrick Film as we delve into the best theme songs featured in a James Bond film.
10. Madonna – Die Another Day
Unlike her cameo in said film, Madonna’s Bond song is anything but a dud. It’s a classical-tinged electro-banger that is a controversial choice of theme song to say the least; Madonna doesn’t just subvert the formula for a Bond song, she completely turns it on its head with heavily Auto-Tuned vocals and drum and bass backing. Like she says: ‘I’m gonna avoid the cliche.’ Also, the ‘Sigmund Freud’ line is pure gold.
9. Adele – Skyfall
Adele was the most glaringly obvious choice for Skyfall’s theme that it wasn’t even worth placing bets on anyone else. But for the woman who broke our hearts with Someone Like You, this offering seems a little…blasé. As if Adele’s holding back the power in the voice we all know she has. Still, it won an Oscar, so what do we know?
8. Paul McCartney – Live and Let Die
For some reason, everybody loves Paul McCartney (I have no idea why), but his song for the first Roger Moore film of the franchise is an undeniable corker; it sounds absolutely gigantic, and maybe that’s to its detriment.
7. Tina Turner – GoldenEye
GoldenEye was seen as a significant re-boot of the sagging Bond fortunes, and the film-makers were on the hunt for an iconic singer to bring gravitas to this new era; and you don’t get much more iconic than Tina bloody Turner. Equipped with a song by U2’S Bono and The Edge, it may rip-off Shirley Bassey a bit, but we’ll look past that because, well, it’s Tina. Bloody. Turner.
6. Nancy Sinatra – You Only Live Twice
The King of Pop Frank Sinatra never got a crack at the Bond song, sadly, but his daughter Nancy delivers one of the most popular and chilling entries in the canon in his place. You Only Live Twice is one of the series’ most over the top entries (Rockets! Ninjas! Blofeld! A lair inside a volcano!), but its theme song is an incredibly sophisticated, haunting affair.
5. Sheryl Crow – Tomorrow Never Dies
This is one of the more overlooked songs of the Bond canon, despite it being an incredibly sophisticated song with a sinister, ominous build-up, and a completely thrilling chorus. Crow’s gritty vocals may grate for some, but to these ears they make for an equal parts thrilling and creepy experience.
4. Duran Duran – A View to a Kill
This is the only James Bond song to ever become a number one hit in America, which is a bit saddening when you think about Goldfinger. But then again, this is a tune that still holds up to this day.
3. Louie Armstrong – All the Time In The World
George Lazenby was only Bond for one film and there isn’t technically a theme song for his film, On Your Majesty’s Secret Service, but this offering by Louis Armstrong plays during what is probably the series’ most haunting moment; as Bond’s wife dies after being shot. The song, to this day, still sends shivers down my spine, and it typifies the foreboding that follows the franchise’s most underrated entry.
2.Shirley Bassey – Goldfinger
Wait – don’t shoot me. Yes, Goldfinger is the spy movie that every single other spy movie tries to be, and fails miserably. It’s cast such a large shadow over the Bond franchise that even the other best offerings (Goldeneye, Skyfall) are just, in a way, pale imitations of the formula Goldfinger basically created and perfected. And the titular song is the Bond song that every other song wants to be, what they try to be; it’s at once grandiose and incredibly claustrophobic in its ominous nature and lyrics. Shirley Bassey knew she never had to pay for anything ever again after recording this. But there’s one Bond song that surpasses it…
1. Carly Simon – Nobody Does It Better
It’s not the most obvious choice for the best Bond song but Thom Yorke once called this the sexiest song ever recorded – and he’s not wrong. The first Bond song to not be named after the film it was featured in, it mostly eschews the big band brashness of the previous tunes for a soothing and, yes, sexy feeling elevated by Simon’s seductive husk of a voice. Strangely, it typifies the love affair with Bond both his Girls and we, the audience, have with the franchise. After all, nobody does it better than Bond.
Do you agree with our list? What are your favourite Bond themes, and how do you like the newest? Let the world know in the comments below!