Top 10 James Bond Theme Songs十大詹姆斯·邦德主題曲
James Bond films are known for their iconic theme songs. From the twanging guitar of the original instrumental theme, to Shirley Bassey's strong vocals, many of the songs have been successes in their own rights. Here are our favourite ten.
#10 License To Kill
In tenth place we have the Empress of Soul, Gladys Knight, singing the titles for Licence to Kill. Long time Bond composer John Barry, who had worked on the series since Dr. No, fell ill, and couldn't work on the music. But the theme song, composed by Jeffrey Cohen, Walter Afanasieff and Narada Walden, was based on the horn melody from Goldfinger, for which Barry received a royalty.
Licence to Kill was significantly less poppy than the prior two Bond films, and fitted the more serious, grittier theme of the film. Gladys' vocals are softer than usual, and the lyrics go well with the music. The song hit number 6 in the UK charts, but wasn't as successful in America. It's a good song, and a great match for the film.
#9 From Russia With Love
The theme song for From Russia With Love was almost two themes in one. The full theme, composed by Lionel Bart and sung by English musician Matt Monro, was played over the end credits. It coupled soft and laid back music, with Monro's bold vocals. It could be considered the most classical of all Bond themes, and is certainly distinct in the series.
The second aspect of the theme was the opening titles of the film. Fully instrumental, they opened with an intense, fast paced and sharp brass and drum arrangement, that was aptly titled "James Bond is Back". After this brief celebration, came John Barry's lively, upbeat version of the Monro tune, which eventually blends into Monty Norman's James Bond Theme. The opening music was fantastic, and it was refreshing to have two different versions to open and close the film.
#8 You Only Live Twice
The You Only Live Twice theme was sung by Nancy Sinatra and composed by John Barry, with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, who had also penned the lyrics for Goldfigner. The music is of particular note, a solid composition with an authentic Japanese twist. So authentic in fact that it has been used in numerous low budget Japanese films, albeit probably unlicensed.
The lyrics are better than many of the Bond themes, and Sinatra's voice beautifully blends in with the melody. You Only Live Twice is one of the most critically acclaimed Bond themes, and has been covered by many artists, including Shirley Bassey.
#7 Nobody Does It Better
Picture the opening scene of The Spy Who Loved Me. Bond gets chased by a swarm of assassins when skiing in Austria. He shoots one of them with his gadget ski-pole, does impressive gymnastics to avoid bullets and knock-out one of the henchmen, but still has men on his tail. In a tense escape, he skis off the edge of a mountain, saved by a hidden Union Jack parachute. And then plays the theme song Nobody Does it Better. Perfection!
Nobody Does it Better was the first Bond song to diverge from the film's title. Sung by Carly Simon, it was a truly beautiful song, and a commercial success, charting at #2 in the UK and #7 in the US. The song has been used in numerous other films, and is a favourite among fans.
#6 Live and Let Die
The theme for Live and Let Die was sung by ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, and scored by George Martin, who had most recently worked with McCartney on the Beatles album Abbey Road. The lyrics and music were written by Paul and is wife Linda, but she didn't take part in the recording. Live and Let Die was the first Bond film not to feature John Barry, who had fallen out with producer Harry Saltzman.
The absence of Barry gave the producers an opportunity to drastically change the style of the music, choosing a rock song for the first time in the series. Live and Let Die was a big commercial success, and charted on both sides of the ocean. The music was very impactful, and was integrated very well into many scenes throughout the film.
#5 Diamonds Are Forever
Diamonds Are Forever was Shirley Bassey's second of three Bond collaborations. George Lazenby had done a single film and left, and the Producers had tempted Sean Connery to come back for one last time. They were hoping to replicate the success of Goldfinger; they brought back director Guy Hamilton, and they wanted another Shirley Bassey hit.
Bassey's new ballad fit perfectly within the film, and the pre-title sequence flowed effortlessly into the song's sparkly introduction. It didn't chart well, and producer Harry Saltzman hated it, falling out with John Barry over the suggestive lyrics. But it was a fantastic score from Barry, and a hit with fans.
#4 You Know My Name
Daniel Craig's first film, Casino Royale, was a reboot of the series, with the aim of raising the quality and critical success of the films. After a string of mostly mediocre theme songs in the Pierce Brosnan era, Chris Cornell brought the respectable You Know My Name to the table.
It was the first Bond song not to feature on the film's soundtrack, because the Producers thought it had enough merit to be released separately as a single. It was however included in the 50th anniversary Bond album. Strong vocals, and a solid song.
#3 James Bond Theme
Everybody knows the "James Bond Theme". It has appeared in every single James Bond film, and was the main theme song for the first film Dr. No. There have long been disputes about it's authorship, but it is generally agreed that John Barry wrote it based on Monty Norman's original composition.
What we do know for sure is that it's the definitive Bond tune, having appeared in countless films, games and advertisements, often announcing that an intense action scene will follow. Interestingly, there are many variations of the tune, often styled to the music of the film in which they appear. But no matter the variant, no one can miss that distinctive twang of the guitar.
Tom Jones is without doubt the strongest male singer of the series, with his intense, bold rendition of Thunderball. Prior to his version, Shirley Bassey, Dionne Warwick and Johny Cash had all recorded versions, but Jones' stood out as the best.
Jones actually fainted after singing the last note of the song, after holding it as long as he could. He sang Thunderball live at Sean Connery's AFI life achievement ceremony. The lyrics are pretty good, the orchestra supports Tom Jone's strong voice, and composition is one of Barry's best.
Oh, but it just couldn't be anything else. Shirley Bassey's masterpiece from Goldfingermatched and extended the grandeur of the film. After one of finest pre-title sequences of the series, John Barry's piercing brass section introduced the titles, in which future scenes from the film were cheekily projected onto half-naked women.
John Barry really shined with this composition, and it remains one of the most popular themes of the series, well respected by fans and critics alike. The film even won an Oscar for Sound Editing, for integrating parts of the theme perfectly into the action. The soundtrack charted at #1, and stayed on the Billboard 200 for over a year.