The 14 best James Bond movie themes
This week, it was announced that singer Sam Smith will release the signature intro song for the new James Bond film, "SPECTRE."
Along with Bond girls, Bond villains and Bond gadgets, the choice of the new song is one of the most anticipated reveals in the release of each new installment in film's longest running franchise.
How will Smith's song stack up to its predecessors? Here's the 15 best that he'll be taking on.
14) Sheena Easton, "For Your Eyes Only"Photo Credit:
I have one reason and one reason alone to add this to the list--earworm. Cruel, unforgiving earworm. Yeah, try getting it out of your head now.
13) Garbage, "The World Is Not Enough"Photo Credit: Sony Pictures
Listening to this, I get the impression that Garbage pounded it out for a paycheck (which is probably true for plenty of people on this list), but that doesn't mean they didn't work. Even here the band conjures moments of moody, slithering beauty that make me think, man, when was the last time I listened to Garbage, and why has it been so long?
12) Tina Turner, "Golden Eye"Photo Credit:
This isn't my favorite James Bond theme, or even in my top 10, but I can't overlook the powerhouse that is Tina Turner. Her voice isn't a perfect match for the icy, tech-heavy music, but that's okay--it's only because she outshines it.
11) Matt Monro, "From Russia with Love"Photo Credit:
While I'd always liked "From Russia with Love," I had no clue who Matt Monro was -- but it seems he was a big deal in the U.K. in the '60s. I can see why. This is a smooth, stylish ballad that's all about a time before rock music elbowed out honeyed tunes like this one. I like the elbowing, mind you, and I wouldn't want to be limited to a wardrobe straight out of "Mad Men" every day of my life, but this is nice, too.
10) Nancy Sinatra, "You Only Live Twice"Photo Credit:
"These Boots Were Made for Walkin'" may be Nancy Sinatra's legacy, but it would be a shame to overlook "You Only Live Twice." It's sinuous and elegant, and Sinatra delivers the song at a certain remove, letting the lush orchestration fill in the blanks. The effect is that the song pleasantly washes over you. Unfortunately, that also means it's pretty easily forgotten, but there are worse things, right?
9) Carly Simon, "Nobody Does It Better" from "The Spy Who Loved Me"Photo Credit:
Carly Simon was not an obvious choice for a Bond theme, but it's hard to deny the hookiness of "Nobody Does It Better." While other Bond themes lean toward sultry or fierce, this one is a big, apres-sex sigh -- nobody does it better, baby. It's a moment no one really gets to bask in in a Bond movie (there's usually too much shooting), but you know it happens. Kudos to Simon for nailing it.
8) Chris Cornell, "You Know My Name" from "Casino Royale"Photo Credit: Sony Pictures
This track didn't get a lot of buzz, mainly because "Casino Royale" was such a mindbender -- Daniel Craig? No Miss Moneypenny? Bond doesn't know exactly what he's doing? What? But Cornell's grunge take on Bond was reflective of the entire reboot, moving from the slick fantasy of Pierce Brosnan's Bond to Craig's gritty tough guy. Both Bonds are good in their own right, but "Casino Royale" was a blast of fresh air that the increasingly exhausted franchise needed. Though "You Know My Name" isn't exactly Soundgarden, it's right.
7) Tom Jones, "Thunderball"Photo Credit: United Artists/Sony Pictures Entertainment
Before there was Harry Styles, girls were tossing panties and room keys at Tom Jones--and I'm pretty sure his throaty Welsh growl had something to do with it. While this wasn't a memorable track, Jones still sells it like it's "She's A Lady," and for that we can all be grateful. For every woman who thought that the beard trend would mean manlier men instead of just hairy hipsters, this Jones and Sean Connery flick is your next Friday night date.
6) Duran Duran, "A View to A Kill"Photo Credit: United Artists/Sony Pictures Entertainment
In the '80s, Duran Duran was just about the perfect fit for Bond -- a glossy, synth-heavy New Wave band that churned out movie-quality music videos that looked, well, kinda like what Bond might do on vacation. But that's minimizing what makes this a great Bond theme -- a mash-up of synth with old school horns, it called back Bassey's slinky, dangerous best. Best of all, it wasn't that crappy Rita Coolidge song.
5) Shirley Bassey, "Diamonds Are Forever"Photo Credit: ABC
Yes, more restrained than "Goldfinger," but it's still Shirley Bassey and she brings a restraint, nuance and bite to this song that, up to this point, pretty much all the female characters (ditto for the guys, honestly) in Bond movies completely lacked. But what Bond did bring by the bucketful was style, mood and sensuality, and if the music also brought a little something extra to the eye candy? Bonus.
4) Louis Armstrong, "We Have All the Time in the World" from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"Photo Credit: United Artists/Sony Pictures Entertainment
Yeah, I could have done without the tambourine, but this is Louis Armstrong, man. "We Have All the Time in the World" is in keeping with the sweeter, easy-listening "You Only Live Twice" theme, but there's nothing wrong with that -- not every James Bond theme has to rip our faces off. This may stand out as the theme to the one Bond movie George Lazenby made, but that overlooks the gentle, heartfelt quality of one of Armstrong's last recordings.
3) Paul McCartney & Wings, "Live and Let Die"Photo Credit: United Artists/Sony Pictures Entertainment
While McCartney has historically been seen as the balladeer Beatle, he can also rock out. This song might have been too powerful (and, bluntly, too good) for the Roger Moore Bond years, which were more about the spy as a smooth operator with a pocketful of quips than a guy who could, if pressed, beat the hell out of a bad guy. Today, the blaxploitation elements of the film seem dated and speak more to capitalizing on a '70s trend than any deeper commentary on race. Anyway, "Live and Let Die" stands out as one of Wings' (and, yes, McCartney's) catchiest, fieriest hits.
2) Adele, "Skyfall"Photo Credit: Sony Pictures
Okay, maybe it's just because it's been SO LONG since I've heard an Adele song that I put this so high in the countdown, but "Skyfall" really does stand out -- soaring and yet bittersweet (as befits a film in which Bond really should have died several times over), it echoes what the Bond reboot is -- a little less jokey, a little more emotionally raw. It also doesn't hurt that Adele really knocks it out of the park. There's a reason why this theme broke Bond's 50-year best song losing streak at the Oscars.
1) Shirley Bassey, "Goldfinger"Photo Credit: United Artists/Sony Pictures Entertainment
The ultimate, slinky, brassy, just-plain-awesome Bond theme, Shirley Bassey's best (but not only) Bond theme is everything the Sean Connery years were -- flirty, a little dangerous, and not too self-important to wink. While Bassey also sang the themes to "Diamonds Are Forever" (1971) and "Moonraker" (1979), her first outing defined the franchise.