CINEMATIC 007 -- Head of Section offers up his personal top five Bond songs. These are only opinions, and are definitely going to reflect my personal bias. As most of these are the songs I grew up with, they tend to choose songs from my own era. My apologies to Shirley Bassey fans.
Incidentally, I only chose theme songs that were, in fact, songs. Meaning, there are some great James Bond themes that I absolutely love, and would normally be on my top five, (think: “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,”) but if they didn’t have lyrics, I didn’t consider it a traditional ‘theme song.’ These are actual theme songs, sung by a singer.
So as David Letterman used to say before ‘Stupid Pet Tricks’… This is only an exhibition, this is not a competition. Please, no wagering.
5. Die Another Day – Madonna: When I initially heard the first few bars of this pop, techno, industrial, dance-mix, James Bond song, like most fans, I was pretty horrified. But as time wore on, don’t ask me why, but this song started to grow on me. I was going through a difficult time right around the release of Die Another Day, so the lyrics begin to hit a personal chord. The theme of dying another day, seemed to honestly reflect a lot of things that were going on in my mind, and they even capture the theme of today’s James Bond; resurrection. So this resurrection theme really seemed to resonate with me, and the tune just became more and more catchy. So what can I say? It’s my ultimate guilty pleasure.
4. All Time High – Rita Coolidge: If you saw the film Ted, then you probably cracked up when the main character belted out All Time High, badly! I can relate as the theme song remains ingrained in my mind. Beyond the fact that Octopussy will always have a personal place in my heart, All Time High captures the essence of a love story that catches you by surprise. James Bond was perfectly matched with a true contemporary. Like Roger Moore’s Bond, Octopussy was mature, seasoned, smart, and still very attractive. The two were so perfectly matched that it gave the film genuine romance, and this song reflects that perfectly –it’s mature, romantic, and easy to lose yourself in.
3. The Living Daylights – A-Ha: Apparently, A-Ha thought they were the next incarnation of The Beatles and were obnoxious to work with, leaving poor John Barry to make it work. Personally, I think that the end result is phenomenal. The Living Daylights is a mature film that has a lot of great style, genuine romance, mystery and intrigue. Timothy Dalton shows that he’s an excellent Bond, and John Barry’s music has never been better, and the mood and music all work perfectly together, and this theme, The Living Daylights, really encapsulates that style. It’s a mature sound that has sort of an autumn feel to it. It makes me think about what James Bond really is.
2. Skyfall – Adele: Probably no surprises here. After the complete abomination that was the theme for Quantum of Solace, I had my fingers crossed for a good, classic, James Bond-style song, and Adele delivered! Skyfall was a welcome return to classic James Bond. For one thing, it’s nice to have a theme song that once again uses the film title for the song title. Skyfall certainly lends itself to being one of the great song titles. The song is haunting, mysterious, and strong, yet feminine, which also sums up why Adele is such a tremendous talent. And this is song was embraced by fans and non-Bond fans alike. What else can I say? Adele really knocked it out of the park.
1. You Know My Name – Chris Cornell: I’d never have associated Chris Cornell with James Bond, until I heard the song You Know My Name. This song explores the themes of this new and more complex James Bond. Like Ian Fleming’s Bond, he feels the ramifications of his actions, and understands the price to be paid. After committing a murder, he tries to wash the blood off himself, gulps down a long drink of whiskey, and stares at himself in the mirror, as if he’s asking who he is. The lyrics of the song reflects that. This song is tough, gets your blood flowing, and like many of the great James Bond themes of the past, it inspires you to take on anything.
In future episodes, we’ll also look at the top five ‘almost-Bond’ songs, (which are songs that were pitched as Bond songs but didn’t quite make it.) As well as five songs that I think should be James Bond songs but aren’t.