Rating the James Bond Theme Songs
Submitted by slipkid71 on Wed, 12/31/2003 - 11:58
- The James Bond Theme (John Barry/Monty Norman)- *****: First heard on Dr. No, when introducing 007 for the first time, this stirring, jazzy classic is a must in every subsequent Bond film. Just hearing the opening notes of this theme track elicits you to fondly recall your favorite 007 moments.
- From Russia With Love (Matt Munro)- ***: Not heard in the opening credits; it's briefly alluded to in a riverbank scene earlier in the film, and heard also in the opening credits. It's not a memorable song, made less memorable by Munro's singing. Oh, if only Ol' Blue Eyes could have sung this one.
- Goldfinger (Shirley Bassey) - *****: Just as Goldfingeris the best Bond film, this title track is the best opening theme song ever. Sung with a brassy cabaret fervor by the great Shirley Bassey, this one just shakes me down to my very soul. And those horns: wow!
- Thunderball (Tom Jones) - ***1/2: Deliberately similar to Goldfinger in it's style and performance; the writers of the song wanted it to sound like Goldfinger if it were sung by a man. Coincidence: both Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey are Welsh. Must be something in the water.
- You Only Live Twice (Nancy Sinatra) - ****: An interesting choice for singer, since Nancy was coming off the success of her massive hit, These Boots Were Made For Walking, but, hot damn, does she score another home run with this song. With more of an emphasis on strings (famously sampled by Robbie Williams on his hit "Millenium"), the theme to YOLThas an elegiac feel to it; somewhat somber and haunting.
- On Her Majesty's Secret Service (John Barry) - ****: If there was ever an opening theme track that swung and hit hard, OHMSS was it. The only instrumental track featured in the now-famous opening credits underscores the fast pace and action of the film. Great use of the clavinet to fuel the song along.
- We Have All The Time In The World (Louis Armstrong) - ***: Satchmo's greatest vocal legacy was he could have made an air conditioner repair manual sound romantic. This song was featured briefly in OHMSS as 007 was romancing his future bride Tracy. A gentle, sweet love song.
- Diamonds Are Forever (Shirley Bassey)- ****: Shirley Bassey's second appearance as a featured vocalist. A smoky ode to the love of diamonds over a man, Bassey plays to her strengths as a powerful vocalist. Not one of the most memorable, but certainly one of the best.
- Live and Let Die (Paul McCartney & Wings) - ****1/2: Add one famous ex-Beatle, reunite him with his former producer (George Martin), and stand back as magic is weaved. This track really rocks, and it incorporates 007 action themes into the instrumental bridge eloquently. Next to the theme from Goldfinger, it's the best theme song of the bunch.
- The Man With The Golden Gun (Lulu)- *1/2: Lulu was a bad choice to sing a pretty lame song. The song's only saving grace is a deliciously funky wah-wah driven guitar lead.
- Nobody Does It Better (Carly Simon) - ***1/2: One of the biggest-ever hits of the series. Written by Marvin Hamlisch, the main theme to The Spy Who Loved Meis both a celebration of 007 and a subtle inflation of his ego. Carly performs this one with tremendous passion and grace.
- Moonraker (Shirley Bassey) - **: One of the weakest theme songs of the entire series. Too bad Shirley's vocals are wasted on a mediocre track.
- For Your Eyes Only (Sheena Easton) - **: Once upon a time, it could be said that Sheena Easton was one of the most popular female singers around. This theme track helped her cash in the success she enjoyed at the time, but it's a pretty bad, schmaltzy song. Very appropriate for its' time.
- All-Time High (Rita Coolidge) - **: Another mediocre track, this time from Octopussy. Fodder for light FM radio, nothing else. This song would have been more suited for Hart to Hart than a James Bond film.
- A View to a Kill (Duran Duran) - ****: A string of so-so theme songs is energetically broken by this 80's supergroup. Bouyed by a propulsive drum track, it's tremendously exciting; unfortunately, it's the best thing going regarding the rest of the movie.
- The Living Daylights (a-ha) - ***: Quick, name an 80's one-hit wonder that performed a James Bond theme song? Before you giggle at the notion of a-ha having performed this one, take a closer listen. It's a pretty good little song that never got the attention it probably should have gotten.
- License to Kill (Gladys Knight) - **: It's nice to have Gladys Knight performing a Bond theme, but it's so much of an overwrought power ballad that it's practically unlistenable.
- Goldeneye (Tina Turner) - **1/2: I can't even recall how this song goes, but I give it more credit since Tina sings this and Bono and the Edge wrote it.
- Tomorrow Never Dies (Sheryl Crow) - ***: The song itself is great, but I question choosing Sheryl Crow to sing this. Sounding a lot like a post-modern torch singer, this song could have used another singer to handle it better. Sheryl gives it a good try, though.
- The World is Not Enough (Garbage) - **: Another notch in a seemingly distressing trend of good, notable artists performing weak theme song material. A band such as Garbage has tremendous intelligence and creativity, but it unfortunately never shows here.
- Die Another Day (Madonna) - *1/2: I always wanted to hear Madonna perform a Bond theme, but boy does this song bite. It's not only a bad sounding song but it's a badly produced one as well, sounding as if it was recorded as a demo at one of her frequent collaborator's living room. A real stinker.