Top 5 Best ‘James Bond’ Title Songs

Ultimately, there are so many good James Bond songs! I whittled out the bad songs on a previous post and now I have to choose my Top 5. First off, all the songs mentioned in this post are brilliant. None of them are specifically bad – in fact, I look at the likes of Live and Let Die by Paul McCartney and The Wings and worry that it should be higher …  but then I look at my Top 5and can’t see how it could be squeezed in. Chris Cornell’s You Know My Name was incredible but is it as iconic as the Top 5 I chose? I think not. Even Matt Monroe and Tom Jones I decided against because Tom Jones i merely a male version of Shirley Bassey whilst Matt Monroe, though a great song, has very little correlation with the Bond songs that followed Goldfinger. The James Bond Theme from Dr No and the the title credits for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service are both instrumentals and we have to have some rules – namely a singer-theme-song.
5. Goldeneye – Written by Bono and The Edge from U2, this again set the standard after the hiatus between Licence to Kill and Goldeneye. Tina Turner comfortably sings her way trhough, as Bassey sang many years prior. The opening credits sequence, additionally, introduces Daniel Kleinmann to the scene – taking the mantle from Maurice Binder by using Russian symbols and iconography linking with the plot itself. I was very tempted to put Tomorrow Never Dies at this very spot but thought, ultimately, Sherly Crows voice is nowhere near as strong as Tina Turners making it inferior. Though, I may be tempted to claim that Tomorrow Never Dies, as a song, is better …  but shame about the delivery.

4. You Only Live Twice – Nancy Sinatra singing the Asian-themed tune of You Only Live Twice. A brillaint song which, in fact, was so good it was sampled by Robbie Williams for his song Millennium.
3. Goldfinger/Moonraker/Diamonds Are Forever – Yes, I have put all of Shirley Bassey’s songs together because, even though Goldfinger set the standard, the songs which followed it became equally distinctive and impressive. Diamonds Are Forever sampled by Kanye West and, with Moonraker, John Barry even had a dance-version placed over the end-credits. Shirley Bassey can do no wrong.
2. Nobody Does It Better – Prior to Carly Simon’s theme to The Spy Who Loved Me, other than Matt Monroe in From Russia With Love, the themes were bombastic, grand and loud … Carly Simon sang a song that sounded personal and romantic. The side to 007 we never truly see … 
1. A View To A Kill/The Living Daylights – by Duran Duran and Aha respectively. These two songs could be played continuously and they still have two things in common – both catchy pop songs that, even at the time, were highly successful singles. Secondly, the songs are rooted in the 80’s scene – that I believe seems to give the songs a little retro edge now. If only Spandau Ballet sang Licence to Kill! I couldn’t decide on which one is better, so I cracked and – again – but them both at Number 1.

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6 comments

  1. No, no, no! A-ha should be disqualified on general principles for driving John Barry away from the Bond movies. He described working with them as being like “working with Hitler Youth.”

  2. A good selection Si!

    But for me, Carly Simon sang the No.1 Bong Songs. Tina Turner sang a cracker and I probably would've put From Rusia with Love in there but then I'm biased as I'm a big Matt Monroe fan.

    Live and Let Die should've been in the Top 5 also but on the whole, you're on the right track!

    Mark

  3. Where indeed is Live and Let Die?! Fair play on including Tina though, beats the recent efforts hands down.

    Nobody Does It Better is my no. 1, but I can understand why you'd have View to a Kill there. Shame about the film really.

  4. @Morbius – I never knew that! I think John Barry truly is the go-to guy for all of James Bond with David Arnold his true predescessor. Having said that, I think Marvin Hamlischs funky track that opens THE SPY WHO LOVED ME sounds very ahead of its time when the James Bond riff comes in – reminds me alot of David Arnolds work. Then you have Bill Conti's 'Runaway' track from FOR YOUR EYES ONLY … completely NOT James Bond, but unforgettably Rocky-like.

    @Mark – Bong Songs? Thats a different list all together. I like FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE alot too, but as a Bond song, its a little bit too romantic. Carly Simon seemed to really picth it just right. Maybe I'm just making excuses…

    @Multiplex Sl*t – LIVE AND LET DIE is good, as are many of the songs I couldn't squeeze in, but I mention in the opening paragraph. It really is a tough list to create! But, yeah, A VIEW TO A KILL is quite the strange Bond film – but there is also nothing else in the Bond series like Chris Walken's psychopathic nazi-experiment 'Max Zorin'!

  5. I would include View to a kill and Nobody Does It Better in my top five, but my top Bond songs are You Know My Name and Live and Let Die. Goldfinger would be #5.

  6. @Mercurie – They are great songs! Both nearly made it! But Goldeneye IS the modern – well, mid-ninties – version of the Bassey-style. And YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE is so great! Its such a tough call.

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