The best Bond? Connery, easy. Craig after that. Everybody knows this (although some, for reasons I cannot fathom, play the Devil’s Advocate and claim some other Bond for this title) but what not as many people think about is the music behind the man on top of the woman. The Best Bond song? Hoo-boy. There’s a lot of stinkers there, for sure, but tucked away between those awful melodies? Pure genius. Mozart wishes he had done the music for some of Bond’s movies– and, having listened repeatedly to Duran Duran’s “A View to Kill,” I wish he had had a chance.
There are 22 Bond theme songs, and all of them will thrill you. They begin with Dr. No and run straight down to last year’s Quantum of Solace. Not featured, although given an honourable mention, is The Simpson’s end credit song from “You Only Move Twice.”
To start, Monty Norman wrote the first Bond movie’s theme song. Dr. No’s title is really just James Bond’s theme song entitled “James Bond Theme.” Classic, vibrant, a blast to drive around to in the summer with the windows down and the top off. But it gets disqualified for not ushering the audience into the movie with hushed whispers about this mysterious man and his all-time foe. “From Russia with Love,” which was the first to have John Barry on as the bigwig soundtrack composer, is sung by Matt Munro. It’s slow, kind of romantic, and decidedly not Russian. More of a cross between Neil Diamond and gypsies. A nice song, but Munro sounds like he’s saying “Russi-er” most of the time and that dog won’t hunt. Sorry, FRwL, you’re a fine contender but lack that extra umph.
Goldfinger, he’s the man with the Midas touch! And you can hear Shirley Bassey’s wonderfully piercing voice tell you all about him. If you’re a pretty girl, this is required listening for staying alive. Honestly, this is the go-to for Bond songs– ridiculously dramatic, kind of jazzy, and even though it introduces the villain you can see how the words vaguely reflect Bond as well. A definite possibility for best Bond song, no doubt.
“Thunderball”– or “Thank you, Mr. Tom Jones.” Originally Shirley Bassey wrote the theme song for this movie entitled “Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,” but because the lyrics didn’t call for her belting out “THUNDERBALL” every five minutes, a producer demanded a different song. Most of the leitmotifs and musical themes were built around Bassey’s song but oh well. In Hollywood, any day any time, producers can STRIKE. …like THUNDERBALL.
Nancy Sinatra, whose voice cannot penetrate hardened concrete bunkers like Shirley Bassey’s, croons out the slow-going “You Only Live Twice.” It doesn’t sound very much like a Bond song, but it is a nice listen. All about love and danger, which fits the Bond world like a fine leather glove– but where are the tambourines? The jazz, the hip, the skit-skit-skidaddle? “Her Majesty’s Secret Service” tries to bring it back, but… well, it’s alright. John Barry wrote it in the sound of a Gilbert & Sullivan opera, which you can hear when listening, but because it lacks any lyrics whatsoever it’s hard to put it high on the list. Where are the references to spiders and poison lies? Eyes like diamonds that shoot the hope from your smiles?
John Barry told Shirley Bassey to sing “Diamonds are Forever” as if she was singing about a penis. The first lines of the song are “Diamonds are forever, they are all I need to please me; they can stimulate and tease me…” And these are all facts. Hard, rigid facts; unbendable and undeniable.
Wings sung “Live and Let Die.” And honestly, I’m kind of a Lennon man.
“The Man with the Golden Gun” is a pretty hilarious Bond song. It takes the title of the movie and continues on the premise that there is an assassin who has a literal gun made of gold. It’s pretty funny. Much like the next two decades or so of Bond films under Moore’s sappy, though surprisingly racist, family-friendly Bonds. “Nobody Does it Better” is the title song for The Spy Who Loved Me. It’s a slow, piano medley, and the atmosphere matches the movie pretty well. The lyrics are kind of inappropriate for a story about a rival spy who wants Bond dead due to the fact that he killed her husband. The song basically comes out and says “your husband was a punk and this ain’t a gun in my pocket right here.”
Moonraker is an awful movie with Shirley Bassey’s worst song. “Moonraker” is only a fun listen if you imagine that Shirley Bassey is singing about another penis. “For Your Eyes Only” isn’t the worst bond song, but it is the first one of the eighties. Basically, this song reminds me of Bond if he was a member of The Breakfast Club or if he really dug Dirty Dancing. “No one puts Pussy in a corner!”
“All Time High” is the theme song from Octopussy. It is the most un-Bond song here. Unless Bond just kicked a hippie out of a helicopter, its title is almost incomprehensible to me.
You know which Bond song is the worst? Duran Duran’s “A View to Kill.” It’s awful. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank,” you should recognize how shitty this song is. What the hell, Duran Duran? What’s with the whiny glam-rock? Do you think that sums up a cold-blooded killer doing the Queen’s work across this wide, crazy world? Bond would never “dance into the fire,” he would toss his dance partner into the fire. “She’s hot for me,” he’d say. “And now she’s burning to death.”
A-Ha did the song for The Living Daylights, entitled “The Living Daylights.” I’m kind of pissed off at this song because I don’t know if it sucks or not. Safe bet? It does. But the electric synth-pop breathes such pretty “bip-bleep-bleeps” into my ears. Actually, this sounds like it should be a Brosnan title song instead of Dalton. Friggin’ Dalton. Anyway, Gladys Knight does “License to Kill” and we’re back to dramatic Bond songs. Thank God. It’s a good bridge between that and the upcoming 90s songs which are all a little grungy. Actually it sums up Bond songs pretty well from the start up until the nineties. Dramatic, dour, and sappy all at once.
And here we are– GoldenEye. Tina Turner sang this song for the movie; I wish she had been an unlockable for the game. Anyway, the problem with this song is that the movie doesn’t really live up to it. I’ve always said that one of the main thrusts of the movie–the relationship between Bond and Trevelyan–is woefully underdeveloped. The song works best as sort of a fast chess game, a Spy vs. Spy that should have been dripping from every screen of the film. But as it is, it’s just an alright song that has some really boring lyrics. It’s no Goldfinger, I’ll tell you that.
Sheryl Crow’s Bond song is great. “Tomorrow Never Dies” is this wonderfully noir-ish little song that goes slow for a while and then explodes. Great Bond drama, very nice sound, and Sheryl Crow is pretty good at what she does. Also, the lyrics fit the song title in a lot fucking better than “Thunderball,” I’ll tell you that. Plus it manages to fit the dark humour of the movies in with the fun of breaking the fourth wall!
Garbage did “The World is Not Enough,” and, although every part of me wants to make a pun involving the band’s name, the song is pretty good. It captures the heart-ripped-out feeling that the movie tries to throw out a couple of times. Not the best, I’m afraid, not by a long shot. Not bad, though. Much better than Madonna’s “Die Another Day.” For God’s sake, woman, use your human voice!
Casino Royale’s “You Know My Name” is one of my favourite songs. I’m ashamed to admit it, but there it is. I love the shit out of this one. It’s ridiculously dramatic in lyrics and melody, it’s cartoonish and tries to rock out so fucking hard and I love it. It is also pretty fun to drive around to, but pedestrians will be confused when you scream about how they “know your name” every thirty seconds.
I can’t go on to the next one yet because I’m still listening to “You Know My Name.” Since I’ve now decided to let this one run to the end, I’m just going to go ahead and take this opportunity to spoil another Bond article: best Bond girl. Easily Eva Green from Casino Royale. Come on– she’s feisty and smart and drop-dead gorgeous in every friggin’ scene. Even the one where she’s crying and guilt-ridden over helping to murder someone. Oh, and drowning. I’m man enough to admit when a drowning woman is hot. (Hint: mermaids).
Finally, the only song which might beat out Duran Duran as the absolute worst. The Alicia Keys and Jack White duet– the first duet in Bond history. “Another Way to Die” is not only a terrible Bond song, it’s one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. At one point–I can only assume because she was too busy checking out chicks to bother writing lyrics–Alicia Keys resorts to wailing like a guitar instead of singing. And not good guitar, either; random, sharp guitar noises that might have been made by a dying coyote. She talks like Mushmouth from Fat Albert at another point. That said, the song is catchy when it’s not stupid beyond belief.
So, truly, what is the best song? Goldfinger? The one about penises? The one with Mushmouth? The answer is simple: “You Know My Name.” “Diamonds are Forever” is second, and “Tomorrow Never Dies” is third.
Yup. There you have it.