Fast cars. Cool gadgets. Hot dames. Shaken martinis.
All things essential to a James Bond film.
But don’t forget you’ll also need a catchy tune.
The James Bond franchise has featured a host of signature songs over the series’ 50-year history. The parade of hits started with the “James Bond Theme,” composed by Monty Norman and performed by The John Barry Orchestra, in 1962’s “Dr. No.” It has been featured in some form in all James Bond films from Eon Productions and set a sexy, dangerous tone for what followed.
Barry reconstituted the 007 theme for the opening credits of 1963’s “From Russia With Love” and added vocals from Matt Monro near the film’s end. From there, Barry set Bond music history on a new course.
“Goldfinger,” the third theme from Barry and first performed by eventual-Dame Shirley Bassey, soared to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, spending 70 weeks atop the charts. Bassey went on to become the songstress supreme of Bond films, recording the most tracks for the legendary 007. In addition to voicing the main themes for “Diamonds Are Forever” and “Moonraker,” Bassey laid down vocals to secondary songs for “Thunderball” with “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and for “Quantum of Solace” with “No Good About Goodbye.”
Tom Jones performed the main theme in 1965’s “Thunderball.” Nancy Sinatra gave vocals to 1967’s “You Only Live Twice.”
Another instrumental from The John Barry Orchestra provided the tune for 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”
The Bond theme reached new heights in 1973 when one of the most heralded Englishmen in music — Paul McCartney, of the Beatles, and his band Wings — performed “Live and Let Die.” The song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song and climbed all the way to No. 2 on the U.S. charts.
It wasn’t the last Bond theme to be recognized by the Academy. Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better” was nominated for Best Song for 1977’s “The Spy Who Loved Me.” “For Your Eyes Only” also scored a nod in 1981 behind the vocals of Sheena Easton.
Following Rita Coolidge’s “All Time High” in 1983’s “Octopussy,” Duran Duran scored the only No. 1 hit in the United States in Bond history. “A View to Kill” is chief among a handful of Bond songs perhaps better known than the films they appeared in. A-Ha and Gladys Knight rounded out the 1980s with “The Living Daylights” and “License to Kill.”
Tina Turner kicked off the modern era in 1995 with “GoldenEye,” composed by U2’s Bono and The Edge. Sheryl Crow, Garbage and Madonna spanned the rest of the Pierce Brosnan era. Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name” was the perfect kickoff to the darker turn the franchise took in Daniel Craig’s “Casino Royale.” And Jack White and Alicia Keys paired for the sultry “Another Way to Die” in “Quantum of Solace.”
Bond’s next adventure, “Skyfall,” opens today and brings with it a throwback to its early roots. Adele lends her stunning, award-winning voice to a haunting tune that shares the film’s title.
If the film packs nearly the punch the song does, Bond fans are in for a treat.
Heather Bremer, a former Herald Bulletin reporter/designer, writes a weekly column on movies, television and pop culture. Contact her at heathere email@example.com.
Fast cars. Cool gadgets. Hot dames. Shaken martinis.
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