I’ve been away on business the past few weeks, so let’s just skip the bad secret agent puns and get right to it, shall we?
- “Die Another Day”
Madonna was way ahead of Britney with the whole shameless electronic comeback. I’m not quite sure how the psychoanalysis reference (about the 1:00 mark) fits in with diamonds and North Korean gene therapy, but at least we got to see Halle as a Bond girl. Sigmund Freud!
- “All Time High” (From Octopussy)
More like an all time low, am I right?
That was too easy, but Rita Coolidge’s uninspired wailing does little to cue us into the ridiculous insanity of Octopussy, the film that single-handedly provided half the comedic fodder for Austin Powers.
- “Another Way To Die” (From Quantum of Solace)
While a Jack White/Alicia Keys duet might look good on paper, it’s executed about as skillfully as a plot centered around environmentalist hijacking.
- “For Your Eyes Only”
The crucial misstep here is thinking that a slow Bond theme works. 007 doesn’t need a song to remember he has droves of women for the banging. “For Your Eyes Only” doesn’t even succeed at fitting the classic lyrical Bond template of so-cheesy-it’s-good. Now if this were rewritten as “For Your Nuts Only” on the other hand…
Way back in the late 50s, Ian Fleming wanted the first Bond theatrical release to be Moonraker, despite the glaring technological limitations in production at the time. The story wouldn’t be adapted until 1979.
31 years later, 1956 is lookin’ mighty fine.
- “The Man With The Golden Gun”
Featuring a much younger Christopher Lee in his early eighties, The Man With the Golden Gun gave us what is easily the most awkward of all Bond themes.
Still, despite its 27 tempo changes, the film isn’t bereft of its merits. We got to kick ass with the eponymous weapon in “GoldenEye.”
Trying to top Shirley Bassey’s iconic “Goldfinger” theme was no easy task.
Tom Jones doesn’t.
- “License to Kill”
An utter waste of Gladys Knight.
(Also see: #19)
- “A View to a Kill”
Even though I actually think License to Kill has a better theme, “A View to a Kill” gets one spot above it simply because there’s absolutely no way a song can get more 1985 than this. Now who wants some of this eight-ball?
- “You Only Live Twice”
Kudos to the studio for including “Oriental Track #3” from its production catalog. Hey, we all fast-track from time to time!
- “Diamonds Are Forever”
If there isn’t a Jay-Z verse on this, I don’t want to hear it.
- “The World is Not Enough”
This takes the gold medal for the ambiguously sexy award:
- “From Russia With Love”
Dr. No was good, but From Russia was the first truly great–and arguably greatest–Bond film.
- “Live and Let Die”
This might have ranked higher if it didn’t sound like a Beatles B-side. “Live and Let Die” remains a classic even if that bridge at 1:35 has absolutely no place in the song. Seriously, listen to it. The Sgt. Peppers thing ruins any potential Bond-ness. Also, Roger Moore.
- “Nobody Does It Better” (from The Spy Who Loved Me)
I take back everything I said about slow Bond themes. Pure class.
- “You Know My Name” (from Casino Royale)
Electric guitars and low brass done the right way, this was our first clue that Casino Royale was going to kick major ass. I’ll defend absolutely nothing about Chris Cornell, but it’s hard to hate a song that hits harder than a rope to the nuts.
- James Bond Theme (from Dr. No)
The granddaddy of them all.
- “Tomorrow Never Dies”
If you owned an N64, chances are you had a copy of “GoldenEye 007.” Unfortunately, Playstation owners had to make due with the crappier sequel’s even crappier game. Still, it was worth playing that first Russian base level to hear this sucker play over the credits.
- “The Living Daylights”
Congratulations. You’ve just doubled the number of a-ha songs you know.
I love this theme, but the movie fell flat for me. Too much Fat Bastard.
- “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”
Before you say “No, not the one with George fucking Lazenby…”
Yes. The one with George fucking Lazenby. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is criminally underrated and deserves credit for pulling the “Bond finally settles down” bit long before Daniel Craig ever showed up. Its title track is no different. The “James Bond Theme” will go down as John Barry’s most recognizable contribution, but this goes down as his best.
If you’ve ever wanted to know what a fifty piece orchestra gettting DP’ed by Rock and Soul sounds like, I give you “GoldenEye.” This song is so good, it makes a 56-year old Tina Turner look sexy. I regret nothing.