What makes a good James Bond theme song? Many would agree that it is a number of different factors including drama, suspense and a seductive quality. The last 50 years have shown that when all the elements do come together successfully we are given definitive and distinctive songs, which have not only complemented each Bond film, but have also become the blueprint for what a great Bond theme song should be. Here are my top 5 James Bond theme songs.
You Know My Name: Casino Royale (2006)
The majority of Bond theme songs have been sang by women, so it was a much welcomed change in direction when former Soundgarden and Audioslave front man Chris Cornell was announced as singing the theme song of the much anticipated Casino Royale. Bond themes are usually indicative of the times and Cornell helped create a rock based track that was strong and current, yet it still had a mysterious and ominous feel to it. The main reason as to why this is my favourite Bond theme song is because it fits well into the realm of Bond as well as outside of it; it is different without deviating too far from a great formula and it is simply a well written, cooly performed rock song.
A View to a Kill: A View to a Kill (1985)
One of my earliest memories of watching a James Bond film definitely included Roger Moore’s last outing as 007. There are many reason as to why A View to a Kill is a great film; the weird and wonderful Grace Jones, a creepy Christopher Walken and most of all an amazing theme song by music superstars of the eighties Duran Duran. The song is catchy and it evokes elements of espionage which work perfectly with the film.
For Your Eyes Only: For Your Eyes Only (1981)
So now I will slightly contradict myself; yes I did say a good Bond theme song is dramatic and suspenseful, but when it comes to Sheena Easton’s song, I will have to make an exception. For Your Eyes Only is a much sweeter and subdued theme song, yet still seductive. It also makes a great Karaoke song which I love to murder when given the opportunity.
Another Way to Die: Quantum of Solace (2008)
A lot of controversy surrounded Daniel Craig’s second film as Bond, whether or not it would be as good as Casino Royale, if the film’s title was good enough and why did they decide on Jack White and Alicia Keys to do the theme song? Keys and White were thought of as an unlikely pair and I like many others was dubious as to what they could pull out of the bag. Then you realise that these are two talented and successful musicians who are actually capable of doing a good job and adding a worthwhile piece of music to the Bond theme song legacy. What came out of the collaboration was a song that followed all the rules of making a great Bond theme song, while still being refreshing and relevant.
Die Another Day – Die Another Day (2002)
Remembered as one of the most controversial Bond theme songs, Madonna’s contribution spurred divided opinions. Disregarding all tradition in a way only Madonna can, the song had a more dance-pop influence, consisting of more digitally composed elements as opposed to live instruments and an orchestra. For me the song lacked the drama and theatrics that I love out of Bond themes, in fact I do think it is one of the worst Bond theme songs ever. However I am all for people being different and individual, so the fact that Madonna had the metaphorical balls to create something so different from what came before, definitely deserves some sort of kudos.