I am a huge James Bond movie fan. I’ve seen them all, I own several, and I definitely have my favorites. I think the best Bonds were, in order, Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore, Daniel Craig, Timothy Dalton, and George Lazenby. Let’s not even get me started on Idris Elba being the next Bond…I’m not pleased. It’s not a race issue, but I don’t think he’s all that great.
But with the release of the music video for the newest Bond Theme, Sam Smith’s “The Writings On The Wall” for the upcoming film Spectre, I’d like to talk about the theme songs themselves.
There have been some great songs written for the Bond film series, and some not so great ones. I’m including links to the songs as I go, and I will go in order.
James Bond Theme – John Barry Orchestra from Dr. No. Set the iconography for the entire franchise.
From Russia With Love – Matt Monro from From Russia With Love. The instrumental version was used in the title sequence, but this is actually billed as the theme song.
Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey from Goldfinger. The first of three themes she sang for Bond, and arguably the best.
Thunderball – Tom Jones from Thunderball. Not a huge fan of Tom Jones, but it’s a nice song.
You Only Live Twice – Nancy Sinatra from You Only Live Twice. Kind of got away from the “big band horn section” here, but I like it.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – John Barry Orchestra from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Instrumental again, not as iconic as the James Bond Theme, but gets the job done. Also this movie included Louis Armstrong’s song “We Have All The Time In The World”. I can’t seem to find that on YouTube though…
Diamonds Are Forever – Shirley Bassey from Diamonds Are Forever. Connery had left the role of Bond in the last movie, and they billed this as Sean Connery is back, and so is Shirley Bassey! I like this song, but I prefer Goldfinger.
Live And Let Die – Paul McCartney & Wings from Live And Let Die. Roger Moore took over as bond in this film, and Jane Seymour debuted in film. And a freaking Beatle sang the theme song…does it get better?
The Man With The Golden Gun – Lulu from The Man With The Golden Gun. Kinda campy, but good.
Nobody Does It Better – Carly Simon from The Spy Who Loved Me. The first theme song that was not titled after the movie, though the title is a line in the song. One of Carly Simon’s greatest hits at that.
Moonraker – Shirley Bassey from Moonraker. Third time was not the charm this time Shirley….
For Your Eyes Only – Sheena Easton from For Your Eyes Only. You can actually see her singing the song in the title sequence, a new twist. Doesn’t stick around though.
All Time High – Rita Coolidge from Octopussy. Couldn’t really have a song called Octopussy, could they? It was the Eighties, they should have.
A View To A Kill – Duran Duran from A View To A Kill. New wave eighties music hits Bond.
The Living Daylights – A-ha from The Living Daylights. Timothy Dalton is Bond now, more eights classics.
License To Kill – Gladys Knight from License To Kill. Back to something a bit classier. Gladys Knight kills this song.
Goldeneye – Tina Turner from Goldeneye. I’ve included the actual music video here instead of the opening sequence so you can enjoy the greatness that is Tina Turner. A great start to Pierce Brosnan’s Bond run.
Tomorrow Never Dies – Sheryl Crow from Tomorrow Never Dies. I cannot explain to you how ecstatic I was to hear this was going to happen. 1997 was a great year. See Sheryl’s music video for the song here. Also want to give an honorable mention to Moby’s take on the James Bond Theme here. And to k. d. Lang who did a song in the credits called “Surrender” which my husband swears is better than Sheryl Crow and makes me argue with him. Hear it here.
The World Is Not Enough – Garbage from The World Is Not Enough. I’ve put the actual music video here, just you can enjoy the creepiness that is Shirley Manson and Garbage. See previous blog posts for my fascination there.
Die Another Day – Madonna from Die Another Day. Let me explain something, I was overjoyed to hear that several of my favorites were performing Bond themes in a row…Gladys, Tina, Sheryl, Garbage, and now Madge…but I was a bit disappointed in this. It’s a good song, I actually like it, I just don’t think Bond needed to sound electronica. Madonna’s music video here.
You Know My Name – Chris Cornell from Casino Royale. Not a fan.
Another Way To Die – Jack White and Alicia Keyes from Quantum Of Solace. Very dark, very rocky. And the first ever duet as a theme song. Also, the oddest pairing for a duet…ever.
Skyfall – Adele from Skyfall. I love Adele, and this brought it back to the classy sound I’ve always loved about the theme songs. Apparently her actually singing and doing a video is blocked in this country, so this is the song over an extended trailer for the film.
The Writings On The Wall – Sam Smith from Spectre. I’ve only listened to this a few times. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. At times I like him, others I don’t. The falsetto kills me sometimes…not that he can do it, that’s impressive, but it’s a different tone than his actual singing voice.
Who should sing the next one? James Bond is more than likely going to be black. It’s going to bring a new vibe to the films, not in a bad way…just different. I think the following people should be approached; Beyonce…or even better, Destiny’s Child, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Aerosmith (what, think I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing), Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, or Celine Dion. I’d even love to have an unexpected artist do it like someone more country-ish like Faith Hill, Kelly Clarkson, or Lady Antebellum. Or maybe someone who can belt out a good power ballad like Lea Michele, Martina McBride, or (on a whim) Barbara Streisand.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!