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007 Songs

Deborah Lipp, author of The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book, is counting down 007 Favorite Things while we await Skyfall during this, the 50th anniversary year of Bond, James Bond.

It started with Goldfinger. Shirley Bassey belted out a bold, brassy, remarkable title song that changed everything. Oh, sure, Matt Munro had sung From Russia With Love, but over the end credits, not over the titles. Besides, a sweet-voiced crooner delivering a pretty but bland love song was not about to make movie music history! No, it was Shirley who turned the tide, busting her vocal chords on Newley and Bricusse’s lyric while she busted the charts. From then on, a Bond film had to have a great (at least in theory) title song, and the rest of the movie industry sat up and took notice — movies sell songs, and songs sell movies.

Bond songs usually play over the title and reflect them. There's a new double CD out called "Best of Bond... James Bond 50th Anniversary Collection" and I've included a track listing at the bottom of the post so you can play along in choosing your 007 favorite Bond songs.  

Trivia Alert: "Nobody Does It Better" was the first Bond song with a different title than the film, although it name-checked The Spy Who Loved Me in the lyrics. "All Time High" made no effort to name-check Octopussy—can you blame it? Other than those two, every Bond song has reflected the film's title until we get to the Daniel Craig era. Adele's song, at first reported to be called Let the Sky Fall, appears to be a real title song; "Skyfall".

Deborah's Favorite 007 Bond Songs after the jump...

Everyone's taste in music is different. I started with a top five that represented a cross-section of fan favorites, slanted it to my own tastes, and then added two personal favorites.

001 "The James Bond Theme"
If I could walk through life with a soundtrack, like a movie character, this would be it. Monty Norman’s instrumental paean to cool is, in my opinion, the single greatest pop recording of the 20th Century. It is so passionately beloved by Bond fans that surveys of best songs cannot be conducted unless it is removed from contention. It is equally beloved by musicians, and has been covered, sampled, and remixed untold dozens of times. It is instantly recognizable, exciting, and ever so much fun.

002 "Live and Let Die"
Just about everybody seems to like this one, across generations. Oddly, enough, I wasn’t crazy about it when it first came out. The combination of the Wings sound with a Bond song didn’t seem right—so much of Bond was in the midst of an awkward transition in the 70s, from his sound to his wardrobe. Wings recorded the first young, hip Bond song, which was odd not just for Bond fans, who remembered what Bond had said about the Beatles in Goldfinger, but for McCartney fans as well. But in retrospect, “Live and Let Die” has earned its place among the greats, describing the life of 007 in a new, yet authentic, way.

003 "A View To a Kill"
In the 80s, when Duran Duran had about five hits on the radio simultaneously, I wanted to wipe them off the face of the Earth. They had a ubiquitous, hit-friendly sound that seemed intent on drowning out more quirky, individual New Wave artists. But with perspective comes appreciation. This is a powerhouse of a song, and surely the best part of a rather dismal movie. It is alive, sexy, and has an undecipherable pseudo-mystical lyric that is always interesting.

004 "Nobody Does It Better"
After breaking down the barrier between rock artists and James Bond with Live and Let Die, the franchise stumbled badly with their next song, The Man With the Golden Gun. With Roger Moore’s third Bond movie, it was time to get it right, and get it right they did! Following the first modern rock theme, by Paul McCartney, Carly Simon gave us the first modern love theme. The sly, sexy lyric, sung by a woman smitten with Bond, was tamed by a soft, discreet vocal that made it all sound so romantic to talk about ‘doing it.’

005 "GoldenEye"
This is a personal favorite that is unpopular with most fans. No matter how often I listen to my Bond compilation CD, it is GoldenEye that is guaranteed to make my heart race. Tina Turner is Shirley Bassey with restraint, she can belt out every note that Bassey can, with at least as much skill, but she has a better ear for when to pull back and let it build. The lyric is haunting, compelling, mysterious, visual. It seems to be spoken from the villain’s point of view, hinting at a lifelong vendetta—the song stalks you.

006 "Goldfinger"
This has lost a lot of ground with the fans. It is loud, it is brassy, and it is obnoxious. But I love it. It’s a classic. That bold, overpowering sound is what made the whole idea of “Bond song” happen. Shirley Bassey sings her heart out, pouring conviction onto every note. When the song ends, your head is kind of ringing, isn’t it? Fabulous! I picture the song as sung by Jill Masterson, the girl who knows firsthand the dangers of Goldfinger’s “Midas touch.”

007 "Skyfall"
It might just be anticipation, or optimism, or hope. It might be I'm too in love with the latest hit-maker. But I love the lush vocals, I love the power of Adele's voice, I love the classic retro feel, and I love, love, love that the Bond franchise has returned to a female ballad for the first time in thirteen years.

Your turn. Name your 007 favorite Bond songs (and don't forget to vote on the Bond reader ranking poll)


Best Of Bond… James Bond  (50 Years, 50 Tracks)

1.  James Bond Theme – The John Barry Orchestra [from Dr. No, 1962]
2.  From Russia With Love – Matt Monro [from From Russia With Love, 1963]
3.  Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey [from Goldfinger, 1964]
4.  Thunderball - Tom Jones [from Thunderball, 1965]
5.  You Only Live Twice - Nancy Sinatra [from You Only Live Twice, 1967]
6.  On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – The John Barry Orchestra [from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969]
7.  We Have All The Time In The World - Louis Armstrong [from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969]
8.  Diamonds Are Forever – Shirley Bassey [from Diamonds Are Forever, 1971]
9.  Live And Let Die – Paul McCartney & Wings [from Live And Let Die, 1973]
10. The Man With The Golden Gun – Lulu [from The Man With The Golden Gun, 1974]
11. Nobody Does It Better – Carly Simon [from The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977]
12. Moonraker - Shirley Bassey [from Moonraker, 1979]
13. For Your Eyes Only – Sheena Easton [from For Your Eyes Only, 1981]
14. All Time High – Rita Coolidge [from Octopussy, 1983]
15. A View To A Kill – Duran Duran [from A View To A Kill, 1985]
16. The Living Daylights - A-Ha [from The Living Daylights, 1987]
17. Licence To Kill - Gladys Knight [from Licence To Kill, 1989]
18. GoldenEye (Single Edit) – Tina Turner [from GoldenEye, 1995]
19. Tomorrow Never Dies – Sheryl Crow [from Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997]
20. The World Is Not Enough – Garbage [from The World Is Not Enough, 1999]
21. Die Another Day – Madonna [from Die Another Day, 2002]
22. You Know My Name – Chris Cornell [from Casino Royale, 2006]
23. Another Way To Die – Jack White & Alicia Keys [from Quantum Of Solace, 2008]


1.  Dr. No’s Fantasy – The Monty Norman Orchestra [from Dr. No, 1962]
2.  Under The Mango Tree - Diana Coupland [from Dr. No, 1962]
3.  007 – The John Barry Orchestra [from From Russia With Love, 1963]
4.  Opening Titles (Medley): James Bond Is Back/From Russia With Love/James Bond Theme – The John Barry
Orchestra [from From Russia With Love, 1963]
5.  Into Miami – The John Barry Orchestra [from Goldfinger, 1964]
6.  The Laser Beam – The John Barry Orchestra [from Goldfinger, 1964]
7.  Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – Shirley Bassey [submitted for Thunderball but not included in film, 1965]
8.  Switching The Body – The John Barry Orchestra [from Thunderball, 1965]
9.  Capsule in Space – The John Barry Orchestra [from You Only Live Twice, 1967]
10.  Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown – Nina [from On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1969]
11. Bond Smells a Rat - The John Barry Orchestra [from Diamonds Are Forever, 1971]
12. Fillet Of Soul-New Orleans/Live And Let Die/Fillet Of Soul-Harlem (Medley) – The George Martin Orchestra
featuring B.J. Arnau [from Live And Let Die, 1973]
13. Underground Lair – The John Barry Orchestra [from Live And Let Die, 1973] 
14. Hip’s Trip - The John Barry Orchestra [from The Man With The Golden Gun, 1974]
15. The Pyramids – Marvin Hamlisch [from The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977]
16. Cable Car And Snake Fight – The John Barry Orchestra [from Moonraker, 1979]
17. Make It Last All Night – Bill Conti featuring Rage [from For Your Eyes Only, 1981]
18. The Chase Bomb Theme - The John Barry Orchestra [from Octopussy, 1983]
19. Snow Job - The John Barry Orchestra [from A View To A Kill, 1985]
20. Where Has Everybody Gone - The Pretenders [from The Living Daylights, 1987]
21. If There Was a Man – The Pretenders [closing credits song from The Living Daylights, 1987]
22. The Experience Of Love – Eric Serra [from GoldenEye, 1995]
23. James Bond Theme – Moby (Moby’s Re-Version) [inspired by the UA motion picture Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997]
24. Surrender - k.d. lang [closing credits song from Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997]
25. Only Myself To Blame – Scott Walker [from The World Is Not Enough, 1999]
26. Vesper - David Arnold [from Casino Royale, 2006]
27. Time To Get Out – David Arnold [from Quantum Of Solace, 2008]

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Reader Comments (20)

"Nobody Does it Better". It's right there in the title.

October 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDS

Oooooh, you had me...then you lost me. I would re-order some of the top four songs (Carly Simon > Duran Duran), but that would be quibbling.

Omission of "You Know My Name"? Now that, I can't let slide. I don't even particularly care Chris Cornell, but his Bond theme is among the best!

October 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca B.

Great list! For me it`s tough to beat Goldfinger. And I love Live and Let Die.

I know I`m in the minority on this one, but I absolutely go nuts for Another Way To Die. I seem to be one of the view who likes it, though. You Know My Name and Skyfall are also fantastic. Daniel Craig is 3/3 in my opinion!

October 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOwen

My favourite has to be Goldeneye. Sexy AND Sinister. Isn't that bond in a nutshell?
Can't go wrong with any of the Bassey ballads, but specific kudos has to go to Diamonds are Forever, the saving grace of the worst Bond film ever.
I also think that Brosnan had a great streak of songs, until Die Another Day of course. Tina Turner? Sheryl Crowe? Garbage? Ah-may-zing trifecta of female power house voices.
You Know My Name also had all grunt needed for the reboot, plus I love the obvious peacocking of "you know my name", we do!

October 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoFo

I'm a big fan of Garbage's "The World is Not Enough." The video is great, too.

October 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKT

Going by the number of plays in iTunes, my favorite is You Only Live Twice. Nancy Sinatra was never a great singer, but her limited range seems to bring out the wistful melancholy of the song. Skyfall is terrific, but I'm waiting to see if I still love it a month from now. Diamonds are Forever starts with a couple of eerie chords that capture that Sixties-changing-to-Seventies lush, unsettled vibe.

October 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLilithsAdam

Ooh! i have alot of favorites but i'll go with,

(no particular order)

The World is Not Enough - like KT, a great song and video. Sounds like a typical theme but also somehow sets itself apart from the others.
Tomorrow Never Dies - People really seem to dislike this one but i don't get it. I love the whole jazzy torch ballad sound of it.
Surrender (Tomorrow Never Dies) - Not an official theme, but K.D Lang destroys Sheryl Crow's main theme with her vocals. That last sustained note! Plus, Lang sings with so much gusto.
Goldeneye - brassy. Tina Turner BRINGS IT.
Skyfall - Instantly fell ln love. From the first couple of seconds. Everything that i hoped it would be. Nice change from the other themes in the Craig era.
Diamonds Are Forever - I'll admit, i only really warmed up to this song when Kanye West sampled it for one of his songs. Love the drama.
Nobody Does It Better - Simple, but sweet.
We Have All The Time In The World - Doesn't sound like a Bond song in the slightest and slightly sappy, but i don't care.
You Know My Name - took me a while to warm up to it though. The main credits and this song were a fantastic combo.

and worst:
Die Another Day and ESPECIALLY You Know My Name. Ugh.

October 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck

derreck -- i'm not a fan of "you know my name" either but love Die Another Day because, duh, MADONNA.

my favorites in order
NOBODY DOES IT BETTER -- always my fav bond song

beyond this point the order shifts frequently

although it might be different on a different day

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

gah!! total error in my post. (facepalm)

i meant ESPECIALLY Another Way to Die. I like You Know My Name.

But my Die Another Day hate is not an error. I don't think i could ever make a mistake with that one. :p

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck

gah!! total error in my post. (facepalm)

I meant that i ESPECIALLY hate Another Way To Die. I like You Know My Name.

But the Die Another Day hate is not an error though. I don't think i can ever make a mistake with that one. It is catchy though.

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck

Die Another Day is probably my favorite song out of all the songs. I don't think it is the best "Bond" theme, but it is my favorite song out of all the time. Madonna was probably more interested in making a Madonna song that fits into a Bond movie, then a Bond song that seems somewhat Madonna-like.
I just love Die Another Day, I hope people got that.

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTyson

I'll be the only one who likes Matt Munro's superb 'From Russia With Love' then?!

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe U.K.

I love the Bond songs. I had never seen the movies before middle school, when my English teacher would play the "Best of Bond" album in class. So intrigued was I by the music, I bought the CD myself, and would listen to it while reading the books. Eventually I watched the movies, too, but for me it's always been about the music.

1. We Have All the Time in the World - On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Simply one of the best beautiful songs I've ever heard.

2. Goldfinger

3. Moonraker
Underrated! I find this tune so hypnotic and beautiful, much more so than the kind of dull "Diamonds Are Forever" (the other other Bassey)

4. You Only Live Twice
The first soundtrack I bought for an individual Bond film. I love the lyrics, Nancy Sinatra's voice, and the way the guitars go when she gets to "this dream is for you, so pay the price". Gives me goosebumps.

5. Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown? - On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Look, guys, I can't even pretend to be cool. My favorite genre of music is Christmas Songs, and I find this one to be pretty perfect in its reference of perennials, use of children's chorus, and execution within the film: Bond, exhausted from his escape from the villains, stops to gather himself, looks up...and sees Tracy di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg) as the chorus sings "most of all, they need love...." And performed by future Altman collaborator Nina Van Pallandt!

6. Live and Let Die
7. Nobody Does It Better
8. Thunderball
9. You Know My Name - Casino Royale
10. The World is Not Enough

Honorable Mention: Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, written for Thunderball but never used, though the score retains the tune -- especially evident in the sequence where Bond and Fiona dance at the festival

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWalter L. Hollmann

I can't decide which Bond song I love the most. There is so much love for the hypnotic "You Only Live Twice", "Tomorrow Never Dies" (especially the really insane string arrangement), "GoldenEye", "Moonraker", "Licence To Kill" and - yes! - "Die Another Day" (which is a superb deconstruction of all the typical Bond song clichés).
I like them all with a few exceptions: "The Man With The Golden Gun" is atrocious, and the Jack White/Alicia Keys collaboration "Another way To Die" makes my ears bleed.

(excuse my bad command of the English language, I'm not a native speaker).

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolker

Mad Men made me love Sinatra's theme

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I actually really like Another Way to Die; it probably would be my #8. I don't like the Chris Cornell song, but my GF loves it.

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

1. You Only Live Twice
2. Diamonds Are Forever
3. Live and Let Die
4. A View to a Kill
5. Goldeneye
6. Goldfinger
7. We Have All the Time in the World

Special Mention: I do reall like Skyfall, but have too much history with the others. It'll probably be in my top 7 eventually.
No, I did not forget Nobody Does It Better. I can hear the appeal, just never fully connected to it myself.

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

Half of them are rather good, so pulling out favorites is to some degree making small distinctions, but I'd specifically highlight The Living Daylights (under-rated song, under-rated movie, under-rated Bond - and I was the kind of 80s kid who loved a-Ha), Diamonds Are Forever, Moonraker, and A View to a Kill (Duran Duran!).

For Your Eyes Only is awful - but it gave us one of the most awesome moments in the history of the Oscars.

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

Everyone: I don't get the Skyfall love, and I think my issue has to do entirely with the lyrics. The whole tone of the lyrics is, pretty much, "Brace for the inevitable apocalypse", a sentiment I think is better suited to a Planet of the Apes or Mad Max prequel song and not a James Bond theme. James Bond is all about STOPPING the apocalypse, not bracing for the impact.

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Nicely put together!

#1 goes without saying, if it's ok to be included.

For me I have to compromise between old and new; not so bad - I really prefer the older tunes for Bond so...

You Know My Name - best in a long time. Adele's is ok, not great.
You Only Live Twice
Space March (Capsule in Space) - great ambient track
Live and Let Die
A View To A Kill
We Have all the Time in the World
Nobody Does it Better
Diamonds Are Forever

Honorable mention: Moonraker Score - "Space Shuttle Ballet" - another good ambient track, and great conveyance of 'space'

First Bond film I saw in the cinema was AVTAK, still really like that song as a kid of the 80s. And the entertainment I get watching Walken probably makes up for the film so much I don't realise how lousy it truly is. I mostly write off the Brosnan era, except maybe for Goldeneye, not for Brosnan - I think his Bond was OK - but the films were below par imo. Craig is doing a great job! Still would like to see Bale, as a fan of Amercian Psycho.

November 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZon Chais
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