Month of Bond: 3 of the Best vs. 3 of the Worst: Bond songs

3 of the Best vs 3 of the Worst is exactly what it sounds like – 3 of the best examples of either an actor, film series, genre, etc. versus 3 of the worst. It’s also an opportunity for you to have your say on my choices and whether you would have placed something ahead of my best or my worst. In celebration of Month of Bond we have the Best and Worst of the Bond songs!

You can tell how integral the song that will accompany each Bond movie is just from the furore and interest that followed Sam Smith’s latest for Spectre. That doesn’t mean it is always good though and there have been some terrible Bond themes, coincidentally, the ones that go with some of the worst Bond films. It is also very telling that the best themes seem to accompany some of the better Bond movies too. Here is my selection…

3 of the Best

3 – License to Kill – Gladys Knight

Many people will be surprised by this entry but this was the alternate selection. The top 2 seem to be indisputable in my opinion (you may want to change their order but they are the top 2) but License to Kill was the hardest choice. It is such a cool theme though and has everything a Bond theme needs, big orchestra, a cool chorus and a great accompaniment to the trippy titles that begin any Bond film. You could also have Live and Let Die, The Living Daylights or Goldeneye. Or Diamonds are Forever, The World is not Enough or You Know my Name.

2 – Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey

The almost definitive Bond theme. Shirley Bassey does it better than (almost) anyone and this song has it all. The big chorus, the long notes and the lyrics that sum-up the movie so well. From those opening trumpets which almost echo the Bond theme itself, this one is so memorable that only one song could beat it.

1 – Skyfall – Adele

Adele was such a perfect choice for a Bond song. She has the huge voice and simple way of drip-feeding the lyrics and letting them hang over the tune. The music itself is both powerful but meticulous, taking it’s time to get the powerful chorus, almost echoing the number 2 song for the memorable lyrics and use of big orchestra.

3 of the Worst

3 – Die Another Day – Madonna

There is a lot to like about Die Another Day. The actual song itself starts quite strongly but it never really feels like a Bond song. It tries to be too different, offering something edgy and punchy when traditional has always been the better option. The lyrics are just strange (but then it is Madonna) and when it becomes a dance song halfway through, you know you’ve lost the hope for a decent Bond theme.

2 – Moonraker – Shirley Bassey

The worst thing you can give Shirley Bassey is a Bond song with no power. Moonraker is perfect for it’s Bond film because it just plods along with no real presence or punch to it. It feels like Bassey is going through the motions and compared to both of her earlier efforts, it lacks any conviction or anything to make it a memorable tune. Ask anyone what the theme for Moonraker is and most will struggle to tell you who even sang the song – imagine people not knowing a Shirley Bassey Bond song!

1 – All Time High – Rita Coolidge (from Octopussy)

This is when Bond well and truly hit the 80s. The song is the epitome of the 80s, with saxophone, the breathy Rita Coolidge practically whispering the lyrics while a wind machine ruffles her hair. It isn’t that the song is bad, just that it is dull. Like Moonraker, if you asked anyone to list the Bond themes, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who even remembered this one existed, let alone who sang it and how it sounded. Maybe if they named the song Octopussy – actually, nevermind!

Overall, the Best Bond Songs will always beat the Worst Bond Songs but it is slightly concerning to see Shirley Bassey in both categories. You will struggle to find a Bond song to beat Skyfall for a little while yet and Sam Smith’s effort falls slightly far from the standard, although at least his theme isn’t for a film called Octopussy.

You can read the rest of my 3 of the Best vs 3 of the Worst series here. Enjoy!

Not quite a classic Bond song



2 thoughts on “Month of Bond: 3 of the Best vs. 3 of the Worst: Bond songs

  1. Adele as the best Bond theme… controversial!!

    I think that the selection of Adele and Sam Smith as the last two artists show a bit of cynicism, just going for the obvious, most popular and record-shifting artist of the time. The only thing I like about Skyfall is the use of the ‘Bond Theme’ chord progression, a bit droney for me.

    Hard to pick my favourites but Nobody Does It Better is timeless, Tomorrow Never Dies is smoldering and sexy. 6I also hate Macca, but love Live and Let Die with Wings.

    Most recently the Chris Cornell and Jack White/Alicia Keys tunes weren’t classics – but I thought they were interesting and original.

    1. All of those were great choices. Adele pretty much sums up everything that a Bond theme is for me. I did like the Chris Cornell one and the White/Keys collaboration but they didn’t feel like “classics.”
      Tomorrow Never Dies is great and I have a lot of time for Live and Let Die. Its what I love about such a broad choice – it sparks discussion.

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