Bond is one of my not-so-secret shames. They're horrific, but wildly entertaining. The music is all good, but some of it just doesn't fit the Bond presence.
The Monty Norman Bond and 007 themes—Dr No
These are the standard by which all others are judged. They’re intriguing, brassy, cosmopolitan-jet set 60s, and set the bar quite high. When you hear that music, you know you’re going to encounter a man of serious standing and character.
From Russia With Love
It was a love song, but fit the theme of the movie, and was used and marketed successfully within. It also inspired an appropriately mysterious air.
Shirley Bassey for the win. Add the howling horns and it’s memorable, recognizable and dark.
Another trademark tune, and the forced awkwardness and tautness of the vocals is deliberate and excellent. Through this whole timeframe, the songs were unique and avant garde.
You Only Live Twice
Not a great song. It takes the brutal roughness of the movie’s quote, and the gaijin attempt at haiku from the book, and makes them…cheezily romantic. It starts off elegantly and warm, then just gets boring.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Instrumental, with drive and power. It’s part rock, part orchestra, seasoned with electronic, and all Bond.
Diamonds Are Forever
Shirley Bassey again, and a misandrystic song to counter Bond’s misogyny. It works well. It expresses greed, selfishness and power. A perfect appetizer for this film.
Live and Let Die
A serious rock contender, still getting radio play. Powerful, dissonant and without any romantic overtones…of course, they wasted it on a blaxploitation, occult Moore film.
The Man With The Golden Gun
The lyrics are bit trite and rushed, and the composer admits that. Still, Lulu delivers an amazing performance. Exciting and driving.
Nobody Does It Better—The Spy Who Loved Me
Love songs generally don’t work, but this is one of the exceptions. Carly Simon sings sultry tribute to the man himself. Baby, he’s the best. Wonderfully reincarnated to pay tribute to Desmond Llewelyn after his tragic loss.
When Shirley Bassey can’t save your theme music from sucking, you’ve hit rock bottom and started to dig. Of course, that was appropriate for the film.
For Your Eyes Only
A love song again, but Sheena Easton’s haunting ethereal voice makes it interesting and vivid.
All Time High--Octopussy
Never has so much talent been wasted for so little. Blech.
A View To A Kill
Some phenomenal musical technique, and a well above average song. A shame the movie couldn’t live up to the tease.
The Living Daylights
One of the 80s’ better songs, used to good effect. Captures the loneliness Bond must feel, and the struggles he has to remain himself, and alive.
Licence To Kill
A love song. You’d think they’d have learned by now.
Tina Turner delivers an inspiring, husky performance that just drips exotic, sexy treachery. Middling high on the list.
Tomorrow Never Dies
Dark, bluesy, gripping and punctuated with sharp highs and strings. However, it’s uneven musically. It works well with the opening credits, but not as a standalone.
The World Is Not Enough
Garbage’s name is quite ironic, as their music, and this theme, are absolutely not. Shirley Manson delivers a great, greedy, megalomaniacal soliloquy…but is it for the villain, or Bond?
Die Another Day
The lyrics are appropriate, but so-so, and the too-clever vocoder and gate filtering doesn’t make this a good song. Definitely low on the list.
You Know My Name—Casino Royale
Chris Cornell delivers the goods. A song that reintroduces Bond, throws out the threat and danger as a dare, and powers the whole way through. Definitely a high-rating piece, and one to judge the others by.
Another Way To Die—Quantum of Solace
Pretentious emo-pop fits this movie perfectly. You’ll be ready to hurl by the time it’s done. You can’t say you weren’t warned.