Thursday, November 8, 2012

50 Years of Bond! The Theme Songs

I have to start this out with the following statement, one of the few film franchises that I have never been fully invested with, involves Bond, James Bond.  I like my martini's, but the films have never been my favorite, maybe for the lack of consistency in quality, and the way they portray the British spy.  While the concept is brilliant, and some of the actor have been great (Connery, Brosnan, and Craig are my favorites), I was never   fully engrossed in the franchise.

Throughout the the years James Bond has been a different character, when played by different actors.  This is a good and bad thing.  The fact that the actual character has had new representations keeps the franchise fresh.  If you have the wrong actor in the role it can help set the franchise back (i.e. Timothy Dalton, and George Lazenby).  The beauty is within the evolution of the film decades.

Throughout the 50 years Bond has changed with the times, from Connery's suave ladies man to Craig's bad ass Jason Bourne like Bond.  The same can be said with Bond theme song associated with every film.  Throughout the decades the music has been seen as a sign of the times.  You have the classic 60s theme songs to the electronica 00s.  While not an expert here are the them songs I think capture Bond the best, and worst.

The Best

1-"Nobody Does it Better" from The Spy Who Loved Me  (performed by Carly Simon, composed by Marvin Hamlisch)-1977

The title says it all, and Carly Simon hits it our the park with her wilting voice, perfect vocalist, and captures the simplistic message of the smooth James Bond.  (third appearance of Roger Moore as Bond)

2-Goldfinger from Goldfinger (performed by Shirley Bassey)-1964

A tight race between this and the number one, Shirley Bassey's brassy voice, is almost hypnotic voice, and everything about her represents the beautiful seduction and danger associated with Bond. (third Bond film, and third appearance by Connery)

3-"Live and Let Die" from Live and and Let Die (performed and written by Paul McCartney and Wings)-1973

This was the first appearance for Roger Moore, and this theme song not only took the Bond franchise into the seventies, but ushered in the first evolution of the Bond character brilliantly.

4-Goldeneye from Goldeneye (performed by Tina Turner, written by The Edge and Bono)-1995

This was Pierce Brosnan's first appearance as Bond, and the first Bond in 6 years.  Bond came back in a classic. nostalgic way with this song.  Turner's voice is reminiscent of Shirley Bassey's Goldfinger, and almost feels as an homage, without being campy.  One of the few recent songs to succeed.  

5-"Thunderball" from Thunderball (performed by Tom Jones written by Leslie Bricusse)-1965

The combination of Connery and Tom Jones (in the 60s) is a true representation of who Bond is and what he represents.  While at first this song took time to grow on me this is one of the songs that represents classic Bond, and captures this well.

The Worst

1-Die Another Day (performed by Madonna produced by Mirwais Ahmadzai)-2002

They tried to stay with trend in music, and make Bond's theme an electronic edgy dance music song with the Queen Madonna, who also had a cameo in the film.  Poor Brosnan; he got saddled with a crappy last  film.  This is by far the song that least represents the character, and was simply picked to try and become a hit. 

2-"All Time High" from Octopussy (performed by Rita Coolidge written by Tim Rice)-1983

While I like Coolidge's vocals the song misses the mark, and feels more adult contemporary in a bad way.  The theme songs try to convey a little edge and danger present within the characters adventure, but this song loses all of edge.  I feel as though this is more Carpenters than Bond.

3-"A View to a Kill" from A View to a Kill (performed by Duran Duran)-1985

The 80s Bond themes were just that typical 80s music, in which you got more of a feel for the band singing the song than the character they were singing about.  This song was more Duran Duran as a band, rather than being about our spy, Mr. Bond.

4-"Another Way to Die" from Quantum of Solace (performed by Alicia Keys and Jack White)-2008 

While I do not mind that name of the film is not in the title, and the title singers are incredible musicians this song misses the mark on all accounts.  The mash-up between the vocals, and production just does not say Bond to me.

5-"The World is Not Enough" from The World is Not Enough (Performed by Garbage written by-1999

While I love Shirley Manson's vocals and Garbage as a band this song felt as though they were trying too hard to capture lightening in a bottle.  Like the film, which also tried too hard, Bond songs started to take a downward spiral with this song.

As Skyfall opens today they are using a more nostalgic theme song with Adele, and even using the title of the film once again.  Two smart moves, and this song feels more like the 1960s Bond we knew and loved.  Smart move, and I look forward to a fun viewing of Skyfall tonight.

1 comment:

pookey66 said...

Interesting article from song viewpoint! Personally I would have added For Your Eyes Only in the mix for 'best'.