My tastes in all things Bond tend to run contrary to those of most fans, whether its the cars (I like the newer ones over the older ones), the gadgets (I prefer the non-lethal ones), the girls (no blonds or redheads, please, unless your name is Ursula) or the songs. In anticipation of this weekend's opening of the 28th film in the series (yes, I'm the guy that counts the original Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again) here are my ten favorite songs from the James Bond films, countdown style from ten to one.
Stirring, dramatic orchestration? CHECK! Lyrics chosen for effect other than coherence? CHECK! Last year's hottest new voice behind the mic? CHECK! Will it sound cool as the opening credit montage rolls? YOU BETCHA! I am well aware that this song has an abundance of haters and am willing to admit I myself did not care for it much upon the first couple of listens but it has since grown on me. You know what Bond songs I never learned to appreciate? The ones from Duran Duran and a-ha. Pretty sure they are also responsible for making their respective films among my least favorite in the Bondian canon.
It's too easy to dismiss the song and film as garbage but I like both and the film is probably in my Top 5. It lacks some of the requirements I ticked off above but the lazy, dreamy feel of the song gives it the appropriate atmosphere. Add Denise Richards to the list of Bond girls I do not care for, she is just yucky. Sophie Marceau, though she turns out to be a bad girl, is definitely one of my all-time favorite Bond femme fatales.
Another one of those lazy, dreamy atmospheric songs, this time done by Sheryl Crow in her best heavily-sedated Edith Piaf impersonation. Still, I find myself singing the title to this one weeks after hearing it. Two sweet Bond girls this time out though the lovely Teri Hatcher is discarded way too soon for her infidelity.
Song starts off as a modern ragtime ditty courtesy of Marvin "The Entertainer" Hamlisch but then Carly comes in, softly speaking the tender pillow talk and everything is better than okay. It's calming, soothing and more than a bit romantic. I'd say it's the second most romantic Bond theme so far. For a mere dollar, my wife will sing the chorus to me and I get my money's worth cause she sounds like she really means it which makes her my ultimate Bond lady.
For those of you who see an empty Spotify playlist above, the song is "For Your Eyes Only" by Sheena Easton. It is the most romantic Bond song to date and you can watch the lovely lass and honorary Bond Girl performing the song in the actual opening credits from the film below:
To see more songs as they originally appeared in the James Bond films, check out Consequence Of Sound's recent ranking of all Bond songs here.
Many fans feel no love for former grunge god Chris Cornell belting out this song from Casino Royale but I felt it was a masterful, high energy opening to a new chapter in the series as Craig took over the iconic role. Cornell and the song are the bombastic infusion the aging series needed. Producers tried to replicate the raw energy the next time out in Quantum of Solace with the dynamic and odd pairing of Alicia Keys and Jack White but that song just sits there. Like a stone.
This one is the new Bond song template as far as I am concerned, raising the stakes and establishing protocol. I nominate our gal Adele to sing all Bond songs going forward. What say you call the next film In The Deep? I actually used Adele's soft, rising voice on the chorus of Skyfall as my non-jarring morning alarm for more than a year and had some of my best wake-ups ever. As someone who changes his ringers, tones and alarm sounds on a monthly basis that tells you a lot right there. Besides the fact I am a weirdo.
Shirley Bassey is unquestionably the Queen of the Bond songs with her commanding performances on what, three or four songs? The way she repeats the word "forever" in "Diamonds Are Forever" etches it into your brain though I have no love for her contribution to Moonraker. But she is as brassy as the wailing trumpets in "Goldfinger" with lyrics by the team who would go on to score the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory a few years later.
So George Martin gets the call and a load of cash to compose the score to a Bond film. He hauls out all his unrecorded symphonies and overtures and bits and pieces, all the stuff he composed while he was supposed to be producing the Beatles. When nothing seems to fit the film and not wanting to forfeit his sizable advance, Martin calls his good buddy, John, a former Beatle, and asks if he has something to contribute, a song for an action film. John begins playing Martin a rough mix of "Mind Games" over the phone, telling him he can change the title to "Bond Games" or even "Bond James" but after a minute or so, Martin feigns driving into a tunnel and losing reception, hanging up even though its 1972 and neither man is using cellular technology. Still desperate, Martin rings up Paul, John's former songwriting partner and asks if has any songs that might make a good movie theme. Paul tells Martin that he just used up all of his songs on a new album he was recording and he didn't know when he'd start writing again, if ever. Martin thanked Paul for his time, wished him luck on his new album and they hung up at about the same time, each saying "Jinx, you owe me a Coke" under their breath to no one in particular. Less than five minutes later, Martin's phone rings and he answers, secretly wishing someone would invent a way to let those receiving calls to know who's calling before they answer. "Hello?" "Hey, this is Paul. We just spoke. Since we hung up, I think I've written a song you could use but I'm going to need your assistance in the orchestration. It's gotta sound like this: dun nuh nuh, duh nuh nuh, nuh nuh, duh duh duh, duh duh duh, nuh nuh." They agreed to meet the next day at the studio and work the track out. Paul's wife Linda tagged along and the rest is history. I know I said "Skyfall" was the Bond song template but before Adele was even born, "Live And Let Die" was the definitive Bond song. Probably still is.
My favorite Bond song for now and always remains the theme to the entire series. Its what plays in my head when I have to do anything requiring stealth, concentration or balls out bravado so basically it plays all the time. His theme is my theme, too. I forgot to mention it up top but my favorite Bonds are Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore and then Sean Connery. If they decide to make Idris Elba, the next Bond after Craig leaves, I will be extremely happy. His Luther character was just a slightly dissheveled take on Bond anyway. Said what I had to say so feel free to tell me all of your favorites in the comments below.