Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published December 3rd 2021
Great music from a long-running movie franchise
Okay, so I have decided to set myself a task that might be close to impossible. See, the latest James Bond film has come out and, while I am yet to catch it, it is, from what I've read and been told, the end of an era when it comes to the titular spy. This has resulted in 25 official movies (and a number of non-canon) involving 6 different actors. None of them are actively bad, and while many might be of their time, I still enjoy them way too much.
And here is my Ian Fleming James Bond book collection…
So, why is this an impossible task? Well, I am going to somehow pick my 7 favourite theme songs from those films. Why 7? Really, you need to ask?
But, to be honest here, I am going to be looking at 23 movies. The first two had orchestral themes; it wasn't until 1964's Goldfinger that actual pop/rock song themes were utilised. But this was so tough! So many great songs are not on this list jest because I like the seven here better. Of course, your mileage may vary. I have a friend who thinks 'All Time High' by Rita Coolidge from Octopussy (1983) is the best theme song; another friend thinks Carly Simon's 'Nobody Does it Better' (from 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me) is it. This list, therefore, I have no doubt, is going to be contentious. And let it be said, there are only two James Bond theme songs I am not a fan of: Madonna's 'Die Another Day' (2002) and Sam Smith's 'Writing's On The Wall' (from Spectre (2015)).
Like I said, this list was a nice struggle for me.
Now, having typed all of that, the James Bond theme itself is an iconic piece of music. Technically called 'James Bond Theme', written by Monty Norman and performed by John Barry & His Orchestra, it has become a classic and iconic piece of music.
I also have a comedy version of the theme that is veryNSFW, so I have opted against including that one.
All right! So, let's look at my 7 favourite James Bond theme songs!
'Goldfinger' by Shirley Bassey from Goldfinger (1964)
Yes, as you will see with a few of these songs, I am a sucker for the big, bombastic theme song in a James Bond movie, and that all started here. From that opening brass section to her "Go-o-o-oldfin-guhhhh!" this is in your face and so good. I have heard this sung at Karaoke bars, but no-one can match Bassey's glorious voice.
'Thunderball' by Tom Jones from Thunderball (1965)
Yep. Another OTT song, this time from a singer I have to admit to liking a lot more than I possibly should. His deep voice just works smoothly through the sing until he hits that magnificent bellowing of the title and it just brings a smile to my face every time.
'Live And Let Die' by Paul McCartney & Wings from Live And Let Die (1973)
This is probably my favourite of all the James Bond theme songs. The rock sensibilities of McCartney are allowed to be used in this glorious piece of music that stands as a great song, even separate from the film franchise. Love this song. (To those who say Guns N'Roses did a better version – you're wrong.)
'A View To A Kill' by Duran Duran from A View To A Kill (1985)
This is the first James Bond theme song I bought, on 45. Also the first James Bond film I saw at the cinema with my friends, as opposed to my family. Not the greatest of films, but the opening scene on the Eiffel Tower is a classic. Moore's films did know how to do a good opening. But this song is definitely a Duran Duran song and it just has those 80s pop sensibilities I enjoy so much.
'The Living Daylights' by a-ha from The Living Daylights (1987)
I personally think Dalton's Bond films are under-rated. They are darker and grittier than what came before, which would later be the defining characteristic of Craig's version. But this song is another bit of 80s pop goodness from a band known for only one song, which is insane. Morten Harket's voice is, as always, great, and there are traces of that bombast I love in these themes so much.
'You Know My Name' by Chris Cornell from Casino Royale (2006)
Back to another rock track, as the late Chris Cornell belts out a fine piece music. I think after the years of Brosnan's Bond and their theme songs (notice none are on this list), this one might have stood out for being a good one after so long of okay ones. However, even as a track on its own, I still enjoy it.
'Skyfall' by Adele from Skyfall (2012)
And we finish the main list with a song like the first – a female singer with a strong and powerful and wonderful voice doing the bombast a James Bond theme really needs. I enjoy Adele's voice – I think she might be the best pop singer to start her career this century so far – and this song is no exception.
And to make this an even ten videos, I will finish with a non-title song from a James Bond film, one which is better known than some of the actual theme songs: 'We Have All The Time In The World' by Louis Armstrong from On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
This track is also revisited in the latest film No Time To Die (2021), showing just how much of an impression this track made. Louis Armstrong is a performer that I have always enjoyed, and songs like this show how easy he found it to move from jazz to pop and still not lose anything that made him special. And this song is beautiful.
And there you have it. My favourite (00)7 theme songs from James Bond movies, with three other tracks thrown in as well. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I had fun listening to so much music.
And as for the films – yeah, I like them all, even a little. Enjoy.