Monday, 14 June 2010

Countdown: Shaken, Not Stirred...

Bond Theme Songs

It looks like it's going to be a loooong time until we see the 23rd installment in the James Bond franchise. While this could be a tad disappointing to fans of Daniel Craig's new and improved Jason Bourne-ish Bond, I say look at the positives. By the time the next film is ready to go, Amy Winehouse may finally be out of the gutter (literally) and ready to take on a project that her voice was destined to be a part of; the Bond theme legacy. Realistically the next couple of years for laWinehouse will go a little something like this... remarries her Blake, divorces her Blake, removes breast implants, jail time, remarries her Blake, puts back in breast implants, releases second CD, divorces her Blake, remarries her Blake. With all the court appearances, public meltdowns, booby makeovers and honeymoons I don't think Amy's going to have time to get around to doing a Bond theme. One can dream though. Anyway, here's ten of the best Bond themes for your listening pleasure.

10. Gladys Knight - Licence to Kill

While the film was nothing to write home about, you can't say the same about Gladys Knight's R&B infused title theme. Built around the brass part in 'Goldfinger,' the track would go to #6 in the UK but, much like the movie, failed to light up the American charts.

9. Madonna - Die Another Day

Again, not the best Bond film on offer, but 'Die Another Day' was definitely a winning track provided by the former/maybe current/who knows/who cares Queen of Pop, Madonna. I'll admit that when I first heard it I wasn't the biggest fan. It certainly grows on you though. The strings vs electronic composition is pretty awesome, as is the music video with all the homages to Bond films. Some of the lyrics, not so awesome - "Sigmund Freud, analyze this, analyze this, analyze this." Why Madge, why? 'Die Another Day' went Top 5 in the UK and managed to break into the Top 10 in the US, peaking at #8.

8. Duran Duran - A View to a Kill

It's so tragically 80s which just makes it cooler. 'A View to a Kill' would be the only Bond theme to top the US charts. Don't you want to live in a time where this could be at the top of the charts? The music video walks the fine line between cheesy and amazing, leaning towards the latter. Kudos.

7. Sheryl Crow - Tomorrow Never Dies

Sheryl's never sounded better (or sexier) than on the amazing theme to Pierce Brosnan's second outing as 007, Tomorrow Never Dies. She passionately belts out the chorus and provides some of the better lyrics to a Bond theme. I find it to be criminally underrated. Whenever 'Tomorrow Never Dies' is brought up in conversation it's generally met with a fairly 'meh' response. Maybe it's just me, but I find it to be a true Bond theme; an epic song performed by one of the best in the business.

6. Tom Jones - Thunderball

It's based on one of Bond's greatest motifs and sung by one of the most powerful male voices of all-time. 'Thunderball' has suave written all over it, but you wouldn't expect anything less from 'Sex Bomb' (I think I just threw up in my mouth) Jones. Legend has it that Jones passed out while recording the track from the strain of sustaining the final high note for such a long period of time.

5. Shirley Bassey - Diamonds Are Forever

Dame Bassey's second go at a Bond theme oozed sexuality and was riddled with innuendo. A jazz-funk sound combined with Shirley's incredible vocals made for not only one of the most popular James Bond theme songs, but also one of the most popular songs of its time. It's popularity was given a boost in the new millenium when Kanye West used a sample of it in the smash hit 'Diamonds From Sierra Leone.'

4. Paul McCartney & Wings - Live and Let Die

McCartney brings the awesome to the party on 'Live and Let Die.' Unfortunately the movie failed to follow his lead. Sure Baron Samedi was a cool henchman, but try watching it now and not shaking your head in disbelief at the many, many racial stereotypes. 'Live and Let Die' incorporates big band, stadium rock, power pop and even a little bit of Ska. The track earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.

Garbage + a 60 piece orchestra = musical magic. The elaborate string arrangements, Shirley's emotional delivery of the vocal part and the overall 90s-ness of 'The World Is Not Enough' make it just about the coolest Bond theme ever. Watching robo-Shirley make out with for real-real Shirley in the video is pretty fun too. Even if she ends up giving her the kiss of death and blowing up a packed theatre moments later.

2. Shirley Bassey - Goldfinger

Yes, it's the most widely recognised, the most critically applauded and arguably the most popular, but it's still not #1 for me. Not to take anything away from 'Goldfinger,' it is one of the rare perfect movie songs and the best song devoted to a villain ever. It's so good that virtually every artist to record a Bond theme since Bassey has been inspired to attempt to recreate how powerful it was. Countless imitations and parodies have also popped up over the years, most notably Dr. Evil's theme from Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

1. Tina Turner - GoldenEye

The greatest Bond theme of all-time. It helps that GoldenEye is also the best Bond movie of all-time too. Bono & The Edge wrote Turner a killer track that showcased Tina's powerhouse vocals. Definitely worth a listen if you've got the time. I guarantee you won't regret it. "Revenge is a kiss, this time I won't miss, now I've got you in my sight, with a GoldenEye." Outstanding.

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