Hello everyone. It’s been a while since I last did an article, but here we are again. Long story short, I recently watched every single James Bond film ever made (some I’d seen, most I hadn’t), ending the marathon by seeing SPECTRE in the cinemas a day before my birthday (my birthday being the Aussie release date; saw an “advanced” screening). As a result I’ve now seen all 24 movies, and heard every Bond theme. And thus we get to the point of all this. I got the Bond fever bad, and needed an outlet.
That said, there’re 24 movies, which means 24 themes to pick from (22 if you wanna be real technical like me). Thus not everything can fit, so this article is specifically made to highlight the themes that didn’t make the cut. Be warned, your favourites may be on here and not on the actual list. This is entirely my opinion, and I didn’t let popular opinion cloud my judgement. But before we get to that, I have two themes I want to address here that didn’t make the cut for a very good reason. They both fucking suck. So with that said, here’s the two Dishonourable Mentions.
The Man With The Golden Gun by Lulu
Holy shit where do I start? This theme is just…fucking horrible. The instrumental is iffy, the vocals are bad, and the lyrics are just crap. This is one of those times where I wish they hadn’t used the movie name in the song. You can make a song about the titular villain, aka Scaramanga, but Christ, this just doesn’t work in my opinion. It’d be better to just to a song themed around him that doesn’t use the movie title. Anyway, onto the other, and much more notable, dishonourable mention.
Die Another Day by Madonna
You know, I don’t even need to say why this is a shitty Bond theme. Who in their right mind thought Madonna doing a Bond theme was a good idea? Who? Whoever it was I hope they were fired for such a fucking stupid decision. I honestly think these two songs are as bad as each other, but the weird thing is, I’d probably consider Die Another Day to be slightly more redeemable. Why? Because, outside of a Bond movie context, this song might’ve had the chance to be a half decent song. And that’s being nice. The Man With The Golden Gun is just a shit song no matter which way I look at it. Regardless, I think that’s enough about these songs. Now it’s time to talk about the songs I actually like, or don’t mind, that didn’t cut it.
A View To A Kill by Duran Duran
I don’t think this song is bad at all; I’d like to make that clear. However, the reason this song didn’t cut it for the main twelve, is that this sounds too much like a Duran Duran song, as opposed to a Bond theme. I mean, it’s really just that simple. It’s also an issue I have with a few songs that didn’t even warrant an honourable mention, or unused Bond themes I’ve heard due to them still getting a release.
They’re not so much bad, they’re just too much like something the band/artist would normally do, as opposed to something that seems more like an actual Bond theme. And yes, Bond themes don’t need to and shouldn’t all sound the same. But there does seem to be an unwritten rule that pertains to what works as a Bond theme, and actually sounds like one, and ones that don’t. It’s hard to explain though, so I won’t waste anyone’s time attempting to do so. With that, let’s move on.
Thunderball by Tom Jones
Here’s a funny story. This song was initially IN the top twelve, and another song was here in the honourable mentions. Then I listened to them both more, and realised I liked the other song better than this. So, with no space left on the list, Thunderball dropped off completely. A fine example of how hard this list was to do. Thunderball is a damn fine Bond theme. I wouldn’t argue for or against anyone claiming it to be one of the best Bond songs, but it’s not in my top twelve.
There’s actually a rumour out there that Tom Jones passed out when attempting to hold the final note of this song. Whether you believe it or not, it made for a good joke in the opening to the movie Spy Hard. I only know about that movie’s intro because it was done by Weird Al Yankovic, by the way. Check out Spy Hard’s intro if you want, but I won’t bother linking it here. It’s basically a parody of the Thunderball opening, but the song is worth it. Apparently it’s the only thing worth watching relating to that movie. But I’ve never seen it so I can’t judge. Anyway, onto the next song.
Live And Let Die by Wings
And with that, some of you either clicked away or went “WHAT?”, but I stand by this only being an honourable mention. Keep in mind, there are TWENTY FOUR songs to choose from. Some of them are going to get picked over others, and literally everyone’s opinions on how these things rank is different that I’ve seen. To some, this is the best Bond theme, to others it’ simply “one of the better ones”. Others may hate it outright for all I know. All I know is, I used to rate this song higher, but when I listened to the rest of them, I just couldn’t bring myself to put it on the list. In a way I think this song is a bit overrated.
Boy; won’t that get me strangled. Hear me out though. I don’t hate this song by any means. It’s just that I think there are MUCH better Bond themes out there than this one. Besides, that reggae-ish breakdown in the middle is kind of jarring. It works much better in the scene in the movie where a woman is singing the entire song in that kind of style, as opposed to just that one part. Moving on.
Licence To Kill by Gladys Knight
Here we have a fairly solid theme for a highly underrated Bond movie. But as previously stated, not all of them can make the cut. Honestly I can’t say much more about this theme. I do like it, but I just don’t like it enough for it to crack the top twelve. That said it was definitely still worth mentioning.
Goldfinger by Shirley Bassey
I’m going to go on record as saying this song is THE MOST overrated Bond song I’ve ever heard. There’s a reason you haven’t seen the songs for Moonraker & Diamonds Are Forever in the honourable mentions. Wanna know why? Because I think both are WAY better than Goldfinger. There. I said it. Though to clarify, I do not HATE this song. It’s not bad at all, it’s just highly overrated. Shirley Bassey’s vocals are just kind of weird in this song. She just sounds like she’s trying too hard in parts of it, and it kind of ruins it for me. Before I get crucified however, I feel I should move onto the final honourable mention in this list
Snake Eater by Cynthia Harrell (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
Now, I know what some people are thinking. “Hey! That’s cheating! That’s not a Bond theme!”. And you’d be right about that. But that’s why this is an honourable mention. As far as I’m concerned, Snake Eater is miles above some of the lesser Bond themes in all around quality. This is the epitome of a Bond theme tribute done right. Hell, this intro sequence is visually more interesting than about 70% of the Bond movie openings. Granted all the Bond openings from 62-89 were fairly basic anyway, so go figure.
In any case, Snake Eater was more than worthy of a spot in the honourable mentions. But being a Metal Gear Solid theme and not an official Bond theme is honestly the ONLY THING keeping this from being in the top twelve. I honestly like it THAT much.
And well, that’s pretty much it. But just to get it out of the way in case, by some miracle, people are interested in my thoughts on the Bond songs I didn’t mention here (and that didn’t crack the top twelve) here’s a rapid fire run down.
“The Bond Theme” (Dr. No) – It is literally just what we know now as “The Bond Theme”. And it’s more well-known for being that than the Dr. No theme. So I didn’t bother mentioning it before.
From Russia With Love by Matt Monro – Honestly pretty boring, and the proper version that Matt Monro is actually in is relegated to the end credits (And a scene or two in the movie itself).
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – This one’s just a purely instrumental piece. There’s nothing to really write home about. Not horrible, but not all that memorable.
All Time High by Rita Coolidge (Octopussy) – This one isn’t horrible, but it’s also honestly pretty forgettable. I do give them credit for not trying to write a song around the name Octopussy though. That would’ve been a dumb idea.
The Living Daylights by A-ha – Not bad but forgettable, and also kind of suffers from the same issue the “A View To A Kill” theme had; which I stated earlier.
And that’s about it really. Stay tuned in the next few days or so (or the next week generally) for the list proper. Depending on how long or short winded the list itself ends up being, I may split it in half. Otherwise it’ll be in one piece. I’m not entirely sure how to sign off from this. So here, have an unused theme for Thunderball by Johnny Cash. Yes. Johnny Cash made a theme for a Bond movie. Here you go. Enjoy. I’ll see you all next time.