James Bond, international super spy and renowned power fantasy, truly has it all. He gets to go globe-trotting to have lots of sex and blow stuff up real good. On top of that he gets musical talent to make songs for the beginning of all his adventures? Sign me up for MI6 yesterday, please.
Everyone has their own interpretation of what makes a good Bond theme. For our purposes we’re looking at how the music works in tandem with opening visuals, how it relates to the movie, and overall classiness:
5. Casino Royale – Chris Cornell
You’ll have a hard time convincing this writer there’s a better Bond movie than Casino Royale. A big part of that is Chris Cornell’s song, “You Know My Name.” While the song itself sucks you into the new era of Bond, boldly stating we’re aware of who the character is by this point, only to have the rug swept from under us and deliver a brand new version of Bond unlike anything we’ve seen. The utilization of “You Know My Name” instead of the traditional Bond theme supports the ideas behind Casino Royale’s thesis: you know his name; you don’t know the man behind the name.
4. The Spy Who Loved Me – Carly Simon
“Nobody Does It Better” is easily the most romantic of the Bond themes, and nobody ends up doing it better in terms of romance than The Spy Who Loved Me. Carly Simon’s vocals lend themselves to a softer touch with the opening visuals incorporating soft, warm blues to accentuate the moody, dreamlike quality to the proceedings.
3. Skyfall – Adele
Skyfall as a film works on multiple levels, honoring what came before while setting the stage for a new clean slate of Bond stories. Recognizing the “old-fashioned way” can be just as effective as doing something new and refreshing. Adele’s vocals harken back to Shirley Bassey’s classic Bond themes but with new style orchestra and visuals for the film’s opening.
2. Diamonds Are Forever – Shirley Bassey
A soft orchestra lulls you in as Shirley Bassey’s vocals seduce you right as she goes hard and blasts vocalized gold that would make Auric Goldfinger sweat with jealousy. The only downside to this one is it’s trapped within the confines of a terrible Bond movie. The song is so good, it makes the atrocious Diamonds are Forever worth watching. This is a near perfect Bond theme, but if we’re being honest, Kanye’s baller remix is worth checking out, too.
1. Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey
The safe go-to choice for Best Bond Song doesn’t mean it’s a wrong choice by any stretch of the imagination. Goldfinger is an instantly iconic tune that lets you know you’re in for a classy adventure worthy of the name 007. Unlike most Bond themes, this Shirley Bassey song is specifically about the villain of the piece and all the wonderful eccentricities that come with being an antagonist to the world’s most debonair spy. When movies pay tribute to Bond, they usually come up with a musical flair that sounds similar to his 007 theme or reminiscent of “Goldfinger,” because there is little more iconic than this gold standard for a theme.
Featured Image: United Artists