James Bond, the famous British Secret Service agent, first came to life through the works of Ian Fleming in 1953, who wrote about Bond’s escapades in twelve novels and two short-story collections. After Fleming’s death, countless other authors wrote about Bond, and continue to do so. He first came to the silver screen in 1962 with Sean Connery in the leading role, and since then Agent 007 has starred in a series of films and proved to be ever-popular. Bond has been one of the world’s biggest influences in the spy genre and has formed the backbone of the British film industry. With all of this film royalty, it’s completely understandable why Bond is so important to any movie-lovers.
The newest instalment of the infamous James Bond movies, Spectre, comes to our screens in only a few short months and movie-goers are talking tirelessly about Bond; who should Daniel Craig pass the torch to for the next few films? What will the title song be like? It doesn’t matter if you are a Bond fan, hater, or are just indifferent; everyone knows the title songs. If not all of them, you’ve heard at least a couple in your lifetime, whether you’re aware of it or not. We all know that the famously long intro, and timeless title song, is just as important as the movie itself – they have to have just enough sass, cheesiness and class. So, without further ado, here we are to discuss the songs of Bonds past.
10. Carly Simon – “Nobody Does It Better” from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
This was the first song to be titled differently from the name of the film since Dr. No, although the title is included in the lyrics (as shown above). It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, and reached No.2 in the U.S. charts and No.7 in the UK. Its opening piano melody is memorable, soft and beautiful. It’s a very subtle and sexy Bond number, and you can feel Carly Simon taking on the role and persona of the movie’s love interest, which forces an intimacy as she admits that no-one can quite do what Bond does. It’s brilliant, and a great way to start our countdown to the best title songs.
I wasn’t looking but somehow you found me
I tried to hide from your love light
But like Heaven above me
The spy who loved me
Is keeping all my secrets safe tonight
9. Duran Duran – “A View to Kill” (1985)
Duran Duran were already at a high point in their careers with hits like Rio under their belt, when they recorded A View to Kill for the James Bond movie of the same name. It quickly became one of their biggest hits, and you can see why if you listen to it. They filmed their music video and spliced it with action shots of the movie which thrust Bond onto the newer generations of the time. With all that going for it, as well as being a pretty good song to dance to in the ’80s – and what the hell, now, too – there is no doubt as to why this song gets 9th spot on the list.
Dance into the fire, to fatal sounds of broken dreams
Dance into the fire, that fatal kiss is all we need
Dance into the fire, when all we see is the view to a kill
8. Garbage – “The World Is Not Enough” – (1999)
A Bond title song titled by an alternative rock group? Yes please! We need a bit of rock to open an immense action spy movie, and this was just the right choice. Kerrang! Magazine noted that “Nothing takes a band into the truly immortal like a Bond theme, and Garbage‘s ever-burgeoning celebrity will be done no harm whatsoever by this appropriately lush and orchestral anthem.” And even a Radio Times reviewer wrote that the Garbage song sounded like Shirley Bassey being revisited, which is obviously a big compliment as Bassey herself is practically a Bond girl with her own number of title songs under her belt. It’s different, but not in a bad way. A much welcome change for our favourite Agent.
The world is not enough
But it is such a perfect place to start…my love
And if you’re strong enough
Together we can take the world apart…my love
7. Nancy Sinatra – “You Only Live Twice” (1967)
Have you not heard the absolutely striking violin opening? It’s beautiful, and that alone is enough to win it a spot on this list. It is definitely, without a doubt, one of the best songs (hence the appearance on the list) and obviously I am not the only one who thinks so. This song has been extensively covered by various artists, and Robbie Williams even used the opening bars for his song Millennium (which pales in comparison to the original song). This song has a slight oriental feel to it, which definitely fits in well with the movie, and is cheesy enough to be just so damn good and perfect for a Bond song. If you haven’t guessed by now, cheesiness is a big must in criteria for me when it comes to Bond, and in this one it’s a small amount of cheese, but it adds a nice taste.
You only live twice or so it seems
One life for yourself and one for your dreams
6. Tom Jones – “Thunderball” (1965)
Tom Jones: what a man and what a booming voice! He was an obvious choice for a Bond song. He’s cheesy enough by himself, as shown by any song he has ever made, and Thunderball is just as cheesy as the rest. So obviously, I like it. Originally, Shirley Bassey recorded a song for the title of Thunderball called Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but the producers were not happy as the song didn’t include the title of the movie (which has been proven to be essential in Bond movie title songs). They were afraid that people would be confused by it and it would affect ticket sales. So, Tom Jones to the rescue! For a rushed track it is really a good one, and completely captures the feel of the movie. It’s a damn good track, and definitely safe with the belting vocals. A solid number 6 on our list.
He knows the meaning of success;
His needs are more so he gives less.
He looks at this world and wants it all;
Then he strikes like Thunderball.
5. Tina Turner – “Goldeneye” (1995)
Tina Turner, vocal blasting goddess of music. Combine her fantastic vocals with the writing of Bono and The Edge and Nellee Hooper producing, it is bound to be a success and, of course, it is. Okay, so some might not like it because, yes, it does sound like a hashing of other Bond songs all piled into one, but that’s why I like it. Maybe it’s just Tina’s vocals that make this track great, but it still is a fit for Bond and it’s fine by me. The imagery in the opening added to the cheesiness of this one, all the gold everywhere. Yep, it’s a bit over-the-top and trying-too-hard, but it worked for me.
Goldeneye not lace or leather
Golden chains take him to the spot
goldeneye I’ll show him forever
it’ll take forever to see
what I’ve got
4. Paul McCartney & Wings – Live and Let Die (1973)
This song gives you a bit of everything, a dash of piano ballad, a dab of rock, even a pinch of reggae and a whole explosion in the final moments of the song. It’s a wild ride and it really packs a punch, getting you all geared up for the action that’s about to unfold in front of your very eyes! It’s a great start up track and at its time, nabbing Paul McCartney was nothing short of brilliance. Producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli re-teamed with The Beatles producer George Martin to provide this masterful song for Roger Moore’s Bond debut. It really riled up the fans, and clearly was able to create a great atmosphere for the beginning of a new Bond. It’s still a great song, even after all this time, and clearly recognisable.
When you were young and your heart was an open book
You used to say life and let live
(You know you did, you know you did you know you did)
But if this ever-changing world in which we’re living
Makes you give in and cry.
3. Adele – Skyfall (2012)
For our newer generation of Bond movies and Bond fans alike, who but Adele to deliver us a blinding ballad for Skyfall. It easily has the atmosphere of a classic Bond title song, with its loud jazzy horns and beautiful piano pieces. This ballad was a winner from the start, and is an Oscar-winning theme song and perfect as a representation of Bonds 50th anniversary. It follows the Bond classics by Shirley Bassey to a tee, and I would be completely surprised if they did not ask Adele to write another Bond title song. I, for one, hope that she becomes the new Bond girl of title songs. She’s got an old-fashioned feel, a brassy vocal tone, but is able to make it current and new. A perfect choice, and a good song by itself, too!
Skyfall is where we start
A thousand miles and poles apart
Where worlds collide and days are dark
You may have my number, you can take my name
But you’ll never have my heart
2. Shirley Bassey – Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Okay, so everyone knows this song, be it Shirley Bassey‘s original version, or from Kanye West’s “Diamonds from Sierre Lionne”, but this version is the original, and therefore is far superior. This one was Bassey’s second ever Bond song, and she fast became a Bond favourite. Unlike the other bold, brassy ballads, Diamonds Are Forever is haunting and has an eerie feel to it, which Bassey’s subtle vocals enhance, creating a real winner. It was a real bang of a song for Sean Connery’s last Bond movie, and is almost the best Bond song of them all. There isn’t much more I can say about this one, except I really, really love this song. It’s almost perfect.
Diamonds are forever,
Sparkling round my little finger.
Unlike men, the diamonds linger;
Men are mere mortals who
Are not worth going to your grave for.
I don’t need love,
For what good will love do me?
1. Shirley Bassey – Goldfinger (1964)
Of course Goldfinger is the top song, what else would be our number one? When I think of Bond, this is the exact song that pops into my head, no matter what film, book or game you are referring to. It’s the hallmark of Bond songs, the first true, perfect, Bond theme tune, playing over the opening credits, which fast became one of the series’ most defined trademarks. It’s jazzy, with big, brassy vocals from our favourite Bond girl. It’s the epitome of cheesiness with all that gold, glamourous and glitzy – I cannot get enough. You just want to belt along with Bassey, and I often do whenever someone mentions Bond (I’ve already done it a few times today). I dare you to find a better Bond song, because there is not one, as yet, and I don’t think there ever will be.
- Goldfinger (Belted at the top of your lungs, might I add)
He’s the man, the man with the Midas touch
A spider’s touch
Such a cold finger
Beckons you to enter his web of sin
But don’t go in