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Top 5 James Bond movie theme songs

Updated on December 12, 2013
Daniel Craig at Skyfall's French premiere, 2012
Daniel Craig at Skyfall's French premiere, 2012 | Source

With the release of the new James Bond film “Skyfall” comes the movie’s theme song by Adele. In its 50 years as a film franchise, there have been several memorable 007 theme tunes. Five of those made my list as the best of the group.

1) Goldfinger by Shirley Bassey, 1964. The “Goldfinger” theme was penned by Anthony Newley,Leslie Bricausse, and John Barry. The song, heard during the opening credits, reached number eight on the U.S. singles chart in 1965. The tune worked well alongside the credits, as images from “Dr. No” and “From Russia With Love” were projected on gold painted Margaret Nolan’s body. The “Goldfinger” theme song had the perfect blend of brass, orchestration, and best of all, Bassey’s powerful singing voice.The “Goldfinger” theme featured great lyrics, too, describing the film title’s namesake as “The Man with the midas touch/A spiders’s touch/Beckons you to enter his web of sin”.

Shirley Bassey, 1971
Shirley Bassey, 1971 | Source

Newley and Bricausse were a hot songwriting team in the early 1960’s, coming off of the success of the London West End and Broadway musical "Stop the World-I Want to Get Off". “Stop” featured such well known songs as “What Kind of Fool Am I?” and “Once In a Lifetime”. Barry would compose the musical score for Bond movies into the 1980's. Bassey, one of the most popular singers in Britain, went on to record theme songs for the James Bond films, “Diamonds are Forever” (1971) and “Moonraker" (1979).

Paul McCartney, 2009
Paul McCartney, 2009 | Source

2) Live and Let Die by Paul McCartney and Wings, 1973. McCartney and his post-Beatles band’s first few singles were a bit dubious. In 1972, two of their songs were banned by the BBC. One was due to its political viewpoint (“Give Ireland Back to the Irish”), and the other (“Hi Hi Hi”) because of its assumed drug and sexual references. The third single was McCartney’s re- worked version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”.

But 1973 found McCartney and Wings recording two of their most well known tunes, “My Love” and “Live and Let Die”. “Live and Let Die” reunited McCartney with Beatles producer George Martin, and the result was the first Bond theme tune nominated for an Oscar. It lost out to "The Way We Were”. A trivia note is that Martin produced the "Goldfinger" single nine years earlier. "Live and Let Die" reached number two on Billboard's U.S. singles chart and number nine in the U.K. It's been a staple of McCartney’s live show for decades, accompanied by pyro and flash pot explosions. The song was covered by Guns N’ Roses on their 1991 “Use Your Illusion I” album, as well as Duffy on the War Child 2009 charity album, “Heroes”.

Carly Simon, 1978
Carly Simon, 1978 | Source

3) Nobody Does It Better by Carly Simon, 1977. Along with “Your So Vain”, this is Simon’s best known song. Like “Live and Let Die”, “Nobody Does It Better” reached number two on Billboard’s U.S. singles chart and was nominated for a Best Song Oscar. Debby Boone's "You Let Up My Life" kept it out of the top spot. However, it did reach number one on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart.

In 2003, Anna Faris sang a karaoke version of the tune in the movie “Lost in Translation”. A year later, ”Nobody Does It Better” was also heard on the soundtrack to the film, “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason”. “Nobody Does It Better” was written by Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager, and produced by Richard Perry. Notably, the song was the first James Bond theme not to be titled after its particular film since “Dr. No” in 1962 (the first James Bond movie). Though the title is included in the lyrics.

Duran Duran lead singer Simon LeBon, 2005
Duran Duran lead singer Simon LeBon, 2005 | Source

4) A View to a Kill by Duran Duran, 1985. This song is an excellent example of 1980’s pop rock, courtesy of Simon Le Bon and the band. It’s a stronger track musically than fellow synth pop group a-ha’s theme for the Bond film “The Living Daylights” two years later. The song's lyrics are interesting too, such as the lines, “Dance into the fire/To fatal sounds of broken dreams". "A View to a Kill" was the only James Bond theme to reach number one in the U.S.. It topped the singles chart in both America and England. It was also nominated for a Golden Globe.

Duran Duran were one of the top acts at the time, with a string of hits such as "Hungry Like the Wolf", "Rio", "The Reflex", "Save a Prayer",and" Is There Something I Should Know". So, they were a good choice to record the theme for “A View to a Kill”, the last movie with Roger Moore playing 007. Duran Duran performed the song at the Philadelphia portion of 1985’s Live Aid concert. The following year, guitarist Andy Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor would leave the group.

As Duran Duran were known for their music videos, they produced a fun one for “A View to a Kill”. It was set at the Eiffel Tower, with the band playing spies and assassins. Scenes from the movie of Grace Jones (the film’s villain, May Day) and Roger Moore were intercut with Duran Duran’s footage to make it seem like the movie’s stars and the band were all at the tower at the same time.

Adele, 2009
Adele, 2009 | Source

5) Skyfall by Adele, 2012. It was a wise choice for James Bond producers Michael J. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli to get the hottest female artist in pop music today, Adele. to record the theme for the latest Bond film. And she and producer/co-writer Paul Hepworth deliver with the song, “Skyfall”.

The song was recorded with a 77 piece orchestra at London’s Abbey Road studios. Bits of Monty Norman’s “James Bond Theme” can be heard early in the track. You can also spot a very slight “Diamonds are Forever” and ‘’Goldfinger” influence in the “Skyfall” theme. The song starts out slow with mostly Adele backed by piano,until the chorus, then the orchestra is heard. The chorus itself with the lyrics “Let the Skyfall/When it crumbles/We will stand tall/face it all together at Skyfall” is catchy. And Adele’s voice sounds good, with no lingering effects evident from her throat surgery a year ago.

The “Skyfall” theme has done well, sales wise, in Britain, entering at number one on the I-tunes chart and peaking at number two in the Official UK Top 40 singles chart.. It reached number eight on the U.S. Billboard singles chart.. "Skyfall", was to make its radio debut on October 5th at 0:07 a.m. in the UK and 7:07 p.m. eastern U.S. time(still October 4th in America). But, a French radio station leaked the song online a few hours before the intended airings.

The “Skyfall” song should be nominated for a Golden Globe this January.

What would be your favorite James Bond movie theme songs?


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