10. Sheryl Crow – “Tomorrow Never Dies”
Looks like she just smoked a pack of Sean Connery era cigarettes, Sheryl Crow’s title song goes down like a dirty martini. Sheryl sips and sips before tilting her glass towards the title.
9. Nancy Sinatra – “You Only Live Twice”
Our long-distance dedication shows the Asian inspiration evident in the music. The lyrics have a nice early zen feel: “One life for yourself, or one for your dreams.” With fantastic images of the volcano as a backdrop, this is one of the few songs that begins and ends with the title.
8. Sheena Easton – “For Your Eyes Only”
After 007 completes the pre-credits streak by dropping “not-Blofeld” into a fireplace, we see Roger Moore in front and center with the movie title sung twice within the first 30 seconds of the song. At this point, it’s easy to think we’re about to have another rough ride, especially with Bond’s’ 70s record (we were still biting Sheriff JW Pepper). Instead, Scottish Sheena shows up and takes us through the rough waters that surrounded a series that had gone astray (“Moonraker”, anyone?). For the first time, we also see the singer during the title streak, much better than an aging Moore. Thanks for directing us safely to shore, Sheena.
7. Tom Jones – “ball of thunder”
This theme aptly reverses the “Goldfinger” sequence by making the verses lead to the title of the film. The verses are a bit laborious and almost mark time, but they still emphasize the fact that he’s a bad villain and most definitely hits like a thunderclap. Parodied by Weird Al 30 years later, Jones holds the last note of all eternity, like thunder-BALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.
6. Carly Simon – “Nobody Does Better (The Spy Who Loved Me)”
After the too busy for her own good “The Man with the Golden Gun”, Carly Simon was smart to keep it simple with a naked piano intro. Oscar winner Marvin Hamlisch (“The Way We Were”) and Carole Bayer Sager team up to deliver a winner. Bonus points for sneaking into the lyrics “like heaven above me, the spy who loved me, keep all my secrets safe tonight”.
5. Paul McCartney & Wings – “Live and Let Die”
Much better than “Silly Love Songs,” Macca hits this one straight, sounding almost improvised as the credits catch up. The instrumental interlude was produced for car / bus / boat chase scenes. Does the lyrics sound like filler? Sure. Are you interested? Surely not.
4. Adele – “Skyfall”
As 007’s body floats downstream, the new British hitmaker is slowly gaining momentum. Patience pays off as it waits 70 seconds in the song before giving the title, although we have points for being 50 seconds later than the title card. It is one of the best pairings of video and audio during the title sequence. Besides, he won an Oscar.
3. Chris Cornell – “You know my name (Casino Royale)”
The famous Soundgarden frontman reboots the series with a bang – and doesn’t give up for the next 3:17. The guitar intro gets you excited to re-enter the world of 007, and after walking lightly Cornell picks up momentum until the end of each verse before reaching the climax of the chorus. The song is paired with crisp images of hearts, spades, clubs and diamonds surrounding “Mad Men” style paper figurines inspired by the work of Saul Bass (“Vertigo”, “Anatomy of a Murder”). At the end of the song, you’re ready to exit the roller coaster and line up for another ride.
2. Shirley Bassey – “Goldfinger”
The Welsh Lady also sang the themes of “Diamonds are Forever” and “Moonraker,” but this is her signature song in the series. John Barry has used five trombones, four trumpets, four horns and a tuba to bring us into this world, while Bassey tells us everything we need to know about Bond’s new opponent. He has the Midas touch, the touch of a spider, and has the kiss of death. Against this vocal backdrop, the visuals show scenes from the film (plus the helicopter chase of “From Russia With Love” and another scene I can’t quite place) on a body painted in gold not of Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson, but Dink – portrait painter Margaret Nolan. As Bassey moves forward to the climax, “HE LOVES GOLD,” we just love the song.
1. Duran Duran – “A sight to kill”
This murderous song deserved a much better movie. It sounds like what a Bond theme song should aspire to be. It starts with a sharp instrumental intro and powerful drum beat, just long enough for the credits to match the title of the song (24 seconds). Simon LeBon sings with cold confidence but throws enough urgency into the proceedings (“Dance in the Fire!”). An oh-so-80s collection of multicolored visuals takes some of the power out of the song. And Duran Duran’s video (where the lead singer says, “Okay. Simon LeBon”) is a lot more entertaining than the movie itself.
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