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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bond, Beat by Beatle

A few months ago my friend Steve asked me why I didn't post about music more often, and I replied that I simply didn't know enough about the subject to comment intelligently. On the other hand, that disability has never stopped me from commenting on any other subject.

Last night I read the latest James Bond novel, William Boyd's Solo, so it seems natural to comment on the music of the James Bond films. I may not know what I'm talking about when it comes to music, but I do know what I like - so here's my list of the best Bond themes, ranked from best to worst in my uninformed opinion:

"Live and Let Die" - What if the Beatles had written a Bond track? This is as close as we ever came, and it's a great song that will be remembered long after the film itself is forgotten...and since Bond movies are rarely forgotten, well...

"You Only Live Twice" - One of my favourites. Great lyrics, cool western/Japanese fusion.

"You Know My Name" - A really powerful piece of work that almost assaults the listener, a great introduction to the latest Bond.

"Skyfall" - Heartfelt, mournful, dangerous. I love this one.

"On Her Majesty's Secret Service" - It might be wrong to call this driving instrumental "jazzy," but it sounds right to my ear; maybes someone can weigh in with a better adjective. All I know is that it gets my heart pumping and ready for some espionage thrills.

"The Living Daylights" - Probably the best thing A-Ha has ever done, thanks mostly to John Barry. I really like this one.

"All Time High" from Octopussy - What, they couldn't come up with a way to work the film title into the lyrics? Still, catchy.

"The Spy Who Loved Me" - Sentimental and so very 70s, but somehow it captures the essential Bondian tragedy, the man who leads the ultimate man's life save for one thing: he'll never have enduring love.

"For Your Eyes Only" - Another 70s romantic ballad that makes a nice companion to "The Spy Who Loved Me."

"The Man With the Golden Gun" - This one's pretty goofy, but something about the beat and the funky electric guitar grabs me.

"Diamonds Are Forever" - Better than the film it introduces, but you could say that about quite a few of the Bond tunes...

"Goldeneye" - It's got Tina Turner and I wrote alternate lyrics to serve as the theme for Toilet Chase. If any of my female friends can sing, I'll pay you $50 to sing the Toilet Chase lyrics to Goldeneye karoke...

"Licence to Kill" - I just like the "WAAAAH wah...wa wa wa wa wa WAAAHHHH WAH..."

"From Russia With Love" - Opens with a pretty nice instrumental that I far prefer to the Tom Jones lyrical version.

"Goldfinger" - Another classic, but it doesn't really move me that much. Probably suffers from familiarity.

"James Bond Theme" from Dr. No - Sure it has the classic theme, but its d├ębut is marred by weird beepy-boopy stuff and an annoying segue into "Three Blind Mice."

"The World is Not Enough" - I was hoping for better from Garbage, but meh.

"Tomorrow Never Dies" - Another meh.

"Die Another Day" - Madonna, but auto-tuned? Ugh.

"A View to a Kill" - I like Duran Duran as much as the next guy, but this one feels pretty dated now - very much a product of its time.

"Moonraker" - One of the weakest songs for one of the weakest movies.

"Thunderball" - I've never liked this one. "A thunnnnnderbaaaaallll!"

"Another Way to Die" from Quantum of Solace - I really hate this one, especially given the creators could have chosen the far better "Quantum of Solace" by Eva Almer.

Can't remember some of these songs? They've all been compiled below:


Stephen Fitzpatrick said...

Thoughtful, insightful, and incisive; two thumbs up Mr. Woods! I look forward to a post where you discuss other 'Might Have Been' Bond songs, like Muse's 'Supremacy'.

I am also a huge fan of "OHMSS", due in no small part to the excellent cover by The Propellerheads. I challenge anyone to listen to this and remain firmly rooted in their mundane world!

"Jeffterface" said...

There were two Bond songs for Die Another Day, the opener by Madonna and the end credit song by k.d. lang. The k.d. entry is worth the price of admission, but not the effort it takes to sit through the entire film.

I also fully endorse the Propellerheads Bond music. They resurrected Shirley Bassey's career.

Another Bond what-if would have been the Amy Winehouse version of Casino Royale.

Finally, David Arnold came out with a couple of Bond theme albums, but they are hard to find - a limited production run I guess.