Over the years, the James Bond theme song has become so integral to the success of the Bond formula that many of these songs have proven to be even more popular (and sometimes just plain better) than the movies they support. On the other hand, some are unfortunately forgettable. Which Bond theme songs are your favorites? Vote in today’s poll.
The tradition of the Bond theme song didn’t begin in earnest until Shirley Bassey belted out the iconic theme to ‘Goldfinger‘ in 1964. Prior to that, the first two movies in the series only had instrumental music over the opening credits (though ‘From Russia with Love‘ had a song over the end credits). After Bassey’s single became a Top 40 hit, producers Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman made sure that every following Bond film (except ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, for some reason) had a song over the opening credits.
The only artist to record multiple James Bond theme songs, Shirley Bassey returned to work on ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ and ‘Moonraker‘. Her theme for the latter is probably the best part of that film. Other 007 tunes have been performed by notable artists and bands such as Carly Simon, Sheena Easton, Duran Duran, Tina Turner and Madonna. Famously, Dionne Warwick’s intended theme for ‘Thunderball‘ was ditched at the last minute and replaced by a new tune by Tom Jones. (You can watch the original synced up to the film’s credits on one of the Blu-ray’s commentary tracks.) Similarly, k.d. lang’s “Surrender” was shifted to the end credits of ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ in favor of a much less effective song by Sheryl Crow.
Paul McCartney brought James Bond into the rock & roll era with the blazing ‘Live and Let Die‘ theme, which is still one of the franchise’s best songs. Other personal favorites of mine include Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better” (from ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’), Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” and Tina Turner’s “GoldenEye.”
Sadly, some of the modern James Bond songs have been much less memorable. As mentioned, I’m not terribly fond of Sheryl Crow’s “Tomorrow Never Dies.” In my opinion, the last three themes (“Die Another Day” by Madonna, “You Know My Name” by Chris Cornell for ‘Casino Royale‘ and “Another Way to Die” by Jack White for ‘Quantum of Solace‘) have all been pretty much terrible.
Don’t forget to get your preorder in for the ‘Bond 50’ collection on Amazon, if you haven’t already.