James Bond Theme Top 10 Songs

The Audio Mug | November 09, 2015 - 12:42 am
By The Audio Mug | November 9, 2015
The criteria for what makes a good James Bond theme song is very specific: Is it melodramatic? Rife with peaks of orchestral build and proudly shameless levels of bombast? Would it sound good over gauzy phallic gun imagery and shadowy lady parts? Do the lyrics go to great lengths to include the film’s title, no matter how awkward it might be to delicately weave references to spies, weapons and men who really love gold into a modern pop song? There’s no telling what the Sam Smith-sung “Writing’s On The Wall,” from the coming Bond film Spectre, will sound like, but the best of the genre (Hello, Shirley Bassey!) and the worst (What happened, Madonna?) seem to mostly live or die in adherence to that template, with few exceptions. And now our 007 top ten songs.

10. “Moonraker” by Shirley Bassey (from Moonraker, 1979)
The lesser of the Shirley Bassey themes, it still makes it into the top 10 because nobody sells smoothness, or ridiculous Bond themes, like Shirley.

9. “Skyfall” by Adele (from Skyfall, 2012)
A gorgeous, gorgeous throwback to the Shirley era.

8. “We Have All The Time In The World” by Louis Armstrong (from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969)
Technically the secondary theme, it’s pretty and tragically ironic for the only movie featuring Mrs. Bond.

7. “Nobody Does It Better” by Carly Simon (from The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977)
While “love” is a relative term in the Bond canon, because the guy’s far from monogamous, it’s swooningly romantic and dramatic.

6. “You Know My Name” by Chris Cornell (from Casino Royale, 2006)
The Soundgarden singer’s effort, from the first Daniel Craig Bond film, powerfully captures the origin story and the vulnerability of a guy learning a job in which he’s interchangeable (Sample lyric: “You yourself are nothing so divine, just next in line.”)

5. “Diamonds Are Forever” by Shirley Bassey (from Diamonds Are Forever, 1971)
So are the charms of this song.

4. “You Only Live Twice” by Nancy Sinatra (from You Only Live Twice, 1967)
Released the same year as Something Stupid, Nancy’s slightly creepy, campy duet with her dad, this is the better vocal performance because there’s something coolly, almost cruelly aloof about her phrasing. You might live twice. Or once. Who knows? Play the game and find out. It’s killer.

3. “A View To A Kill” by Duran Duran (from A View To A Kill, 1985)
The perfect blend of New Romantic punch and John Barry elegance, and the most successful of all of the Bond themes that eschewed the bombastic Shirley Bassey approach to go modern, because it beautifully lends some John Barry class to 1985.

2. “Live And Let Die” by Paul McCartney and Wings (from Live And Let Die, 1973)
A gigantic, glam classic delivered with a sharp snarl and a surprisingly bleak mood amid all the bombast.

1. “Goldfinger” by Shirley Bassey (from Goldfinger, 1964)
The reason that Welsh songstress Bassey is the reigning queen of the Bond theme, and this is her magnum opus. She can sell the goofiest concept like a dude who is obsessed with turning the world into gold as the most reasonable thing in the world. She’s magic.

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