Best Bond Songs
10. Sheryl Crow — “Tomorrow Never Dies”
Sounding like she just smoked a pack of cigarettes from the Sean Connery era, Sheryl Crow’s title song goes down like a dirty martini. Sheryl sips and sips before tipping her glass toward the title.
9. Nancy Sinatra — “You Only Live Twice”
Our long distance dedication shows with the obvious Asian inspiration in the music. The lyrics have a nice early zen feel: “One life for yourself, or one for your dreams.” Set against the backdrop of fantastic volcano footage, it’s one of the few songs that begins and ends with the title.
8. Sheena Easton — “For Your Eyes Only”
After 007 wraps up the pre-credits sequence by dropping “not-Blofeld” down a smokestack, we see Roger Moore front and center with the movie title sung twice in the first 30 seconds of the song. At this point, it’s easy to think we’re in for another rough outing, especially with Bond’s record in the ’70s (we were still stinging from Sheriff JW Pepper). Instead, Scottish Sheena shows up and takes us through the rough waters that surrounded a series that had lost its way (“Moonraker,” anyone?). For the first time, we also get to see the singer during the title sequence, much better than an aging Moore. Thanks for directing us safely to shore, Sheena.
7. Tom Jones – “Thunderball”
This theme wisely inverts the “Goldfinger” sequence by having the verses lead up to the movie title. The verses are kind of plodding and almost marking time, but they’re always pointing to the fact that this is one bad villain and he most certainly strikes like thunderball. Parodied by Weird Al 30 years later, Jones holds the last note for all eternity, like thunder-BALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.
6. Carly Simon — “Nobody Does it Better (The Spy Who Loved Me)”
After the too-busy-for-its-own-good “The Man with the Golden Gun,” Carly Simon was smart to keep it simple with a naked piano intro. Oscar-winner Marvin Hamlisch (“The Way We Were”) and Carole Bayer Sager team up to deliver a winner. Bonus points for sneaking in the lyric “like heaven above me, the spy who loved me, is keeping all my secrets safe tonight.”
5. Paul McCartney & Wings — “Live and Let Die”
Much better than “Silly Love Songs,” Macca hits this one straight on the mark, almost appearing to ad-lib as the credits catch up. The instrumental interlude was made for car/bus/boat chase scenes. Do the lyrics feel like filler? Of course. Do you care? Hell no.
4. Adele — “Skyfall”
As 007’s body is floating downstream, Britain’s newest hitmaker slowly gathers momentum. Patience pays off as she waits 70 seconds into the song before giving the title, although we dock points for being 50 seconds later than the title card. It’s one of the better pairings of video and audio during the title sequence. By the way, it won an Oscar.
3. Chris Cornell — “You Know My Name (Casino Royale)”
The famed Soundgarden frontman reboots the series with a bang — and doesn’t let up over the next 3:17. The guitar intro gets you excited about reentering the world of 007, and after lightly treading, Cornell builds momentum to the end of each verse before hitting the chorus climax. The song is paired with sharp visuals of hearts, spades, clubs and diamonds surrounding “Mad Men”-style paper cutout figures inspired by the work of Saul Bass (“Vertigo,” “Anatomy of a Murder”). By the end of the song, you’re ready to leave the roller coaster — and line up for another turn.
2. Shirley Bassey — “Goldfinger”
The Welsh Dame also sang the themes for “Diamonds are Forever” and “Moonraker,” but this is her signature song in the series. John Barry used five trombones, four trumpets, four French horns and a tuba to bring us into this world, while Bassey tells us all we need to know about Bond’s newest adversary. He has the Midas touch, a spider’s touch, and possesses the kiss of death. Against this vocal backdrop, the visuals show scenes from the film (plus the helicopter chase from “From Russia With Love” and another scene I can’t quite place) over a gold-painted body not of Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson, but Dink-portrayer Margaret Nolan. As Bassey builds toward the climax, “HE LOVES GOLD,” we simply love the song.
1. Duran Duran — “A View to a Kill”
This killer song deserved a much better movie. It feels like what a Bond theme song should aspire to become. It starts with a sharp instrumental intro and a strong drumbeat, just long enough to let the credits match up with the song title (24 seconds in). Simon LeBon sings with a cool confidence yet throws enough urgency into the proceedings (“Dance into the fire!”). An oh-so-’80s collection of multicolored visuals takes away some of the song’s power. And Duran Duran’s video (where the lead singer says, “Bon. Simon LeBon”) is much more entertaining than the actual movie.
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