With rumours flying of who will perform the tune accompanying James Bond’s latest outing, Spectre, our writers pick their 007 – wait, make that 008 – favourites from the films to date.
Jack White & Alicia Keys – Another Way to Die
(From Quantum of Solace)
In keeping with the slightly more modern era of Bond films with Daniel Craig and Judi Dench in almost joint lead roles, this track is the first ever duet in Bond theme history. Yes, it’s almost like talented men and women can collaborate without sleeping together, 007!
With Jack on writing/production/drums duty and Alicia hammering the, well, keys, they do a fine job of serenading not so much each other as the classic Bond themes of the past. With sassy, punctuating brass and more loud/quiet than a Pixies track, this even has real Bassey-esque drama on the chorus.
Full credit to the track for also managing to use the word “solace” in the lyrics, which I appreciate. As will people wondering what’s just started on ITV2. You can almost hear the conversation at the commissioning stage: “The film’s called WHAT? Shit, nothing rhymes with quantum. Quantum… is it available in DOM-TOM territories?”
I also love that in the accompanying video, betwixt all the sexy silhouette strutting through bullet holes on a white background (Alicia) and pacing in suits with undone bow-ties (Jack), the video largely features Jack behind a drum kit (not very Bond, a balls-out drum solo with high-hat bashing) and Alicia cutely playing air-piano on the single notes at the end. Adorable!
It won’t be the last time we work together, they said. No one was hoping that would mean Tidal.
A-ha – The Living Daylights
Along with Duran Duran’s A View to a Kill, I’ve always rather liked the fact that while the original scores for Bond films are seminal soundtrack work, with the likes of legendary John Barry, George Martin and David Arnold at the helm, the lead track can actually be represented by that year’s boy band. If McBusted don’t do a Bond theme called Let’s All Bang, Dudes!, the current producers are fools.
“Product placement has been a controversial problem in Bond films but A-ha were right in there, disguising their self-referencing ‘A-ha’s in the bloody chorus.”
John Barry co-wrote/produced the original version of The Living Daylights, thankfully adding the string arrangements that give the song its quintessentially Bond feel. It’s reported that A-ha aren’t keen on his additions, or his co-credit, and they later stuck out a version without him. Confident. Especially given that the first version didn’t even chart in the US, despite the exposure.
As with many A-ha songs though, the fans of both the film franchise and the band keep it in the lists of favourite themes, and we are on familiar territory here, with Morten and co very happy to substitute lyrical meaning and plot for “ahhhhhh ahhha” which cleverly, is also their name. Product placement has been a controversial problem in Bond films with the constant use of certain recognisable branded watches, cars and his laughable swinging around of Sony Vaios, but A-ha were right in there, disguising their self-referencing ‘A-ha’s in the bloody chorus. The film’s called The Living Daylights, the song’s called The Living Daylights and the chorus says “A-ha, the Living Daylights, A-ha“. Never has a brief for a song been executed to the exact letter so well.
Shirley Bassey – Goldfinger
The best Bond song, fact. OK, reasons:
1. The opening chord is pure Bond.
2. The song itself totally encapsulates Connery’s reign; dramatic, flash, frivolous.
3. Shirley Bassey.
4. The rhyming of ‘Goldfinger’ with ‘cold finger’ which sounds crude but is actually pretty fabulous in context.
5. It actually sounds like it’s made of gold. Like, if you close your eyes – with all the brass that’s going on, it couldn’t sound more gaudy if you could hear loose chains jingling in the background.
6. You actually get better at singing it the drunker you get.
7. Bassey’s final note. See 6.
Shirley Bassey – Diamonds are Forever
Diamonds are Forever is my favourite Bond movie: the film is a chaotic glittery mess, with Sean Connery zooming slightly randomly around in Las Vegas, with a genuinely mystifying (and hyper-homophobic) sub-plot involving the gay assassins Mr Wint and Mr Kidd.
When I was a tutor at OU Summer Schools, we used to drink vodka martinis and look for continuity errors, of which there are many – a whole section of voiceover at the start is played twice, for example, and the car chases in Las Vegas gather larger and larger watching crowds. The theme tune is a total joy: Shirley Bassey chewing and soaring her way through while diamonds, women, guns and Blofeld’s cat swirl around on the screen.
“The video for The World is Not Enough is pretty ace too, seeing a robotic Shirley bumping off the real Manson then attempting to blow up an audience watching her.”
Garbage – The World is Not Enough
The 90s was the decade of kick-ass female lead singers and, to my mind, the best of the bunch was Shirley Manson from alternative rock band Garbage. Normally Bond films didn’t really grab my attention (apart from the Roger Moore era because, you know, his eyebrows were cool) mainly due to the fact that any female characters either ended up dead or were there just to be part of the inevitable shag-fest.
So when, in 1999, The World is Not Enough came out, with the theme tune performed by the American-Scottish band, I wanted in! The song is written by David Arnold, who has scored five Bond films so far, and manages to bring out the best of Manson’s silky vocals and the trademark soaring strings of previous Bond tunes, while still achieving the seductive and sinister tone which was key to Garbage’s own sound.
The video is pretty ace too, seeing a robotic Shirley bumping off the real Manson then attempting to blow up an audience watching her. It blends electronica with orchestra effortlessly and marked out a more modern sound for Bond films to come.
Confession: I have never watched a Bond movie in its entirety before. Like Nickleback songs, they all seem to merge into the same thing for me.
The theme tunes are a different matter though! And until Muse finally get called up to do one, my favourite is the karaoke classic Nobody Does It Better, from The Spy Who Loved Me, starring in my opinion the dishiest of the Bonds, Sir Roger Moore.
It was only on watching the actual opening credits to the Bond movie in question I realised where my main reason for loving the song got its inspiration – in between all the euphemistic gun acrobatics, of course. Yes, I’m talking about the opening credits of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, where she skydives into what she describes as a “vat of excrement”, mostly because it was exactly that.
In the first movie, our first singalong was All By Myself, so the second movie’s soundtrack had a lot to live up to. What better way to get you in the mood for the gigglesome journey of a perfectly normal woman than the dulcet tones of Carly Simon? For me, the best Bond movie theme tune ever! Don’t ask me what the film is about, though…
Duran Duran – A View to a Kill
So 80s it hurts, it builds from Simon Le Bon Bon’s sultry opening vocals to him eagerly enticing you to dance into the fire via some kick-ass synths and a fatal kiss along the way. Its gorgeous drama makes you want to do a high kick and flick your head back, probably while wearing chiffon and a scrunchie.
Paul McCartney and Wings – Live and Let Die
When I was young, and my heart was an open book, I used to be scared shitless of the scarecrows in Live And Let Die. Hide-behind-the-settee-bawling, nightmares-for-weeks terrified. To this day I can’t enter a maize maze.
And yet, it was my favourite Bond film. Why? It set the bar for Roger Moore’s Bond, his first appearance as 007 featuring all the zippy one-liners, smarm-charm and hideously dated outfits we came to know, love and deride. But it was the Paul McCartney and Wings theme tune that had me gripped: the unapologetically bombastic rock; the blazing skulls; the reggae-lite breakdown; the 1991 Guns ’N Roses cover that irritated the crap out of my ma.
And, y’know, the message: if this ever-changing world in which we’re living, makes you give in and cry… kill someone, right?
Mickey Noonan1725 Views
Some of Standard Issue's brilliant women's carefully crafted words for your reading pleasure.