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Listed: The Top 10 Bond Themes

By ; November 6, 2012 at 11:08 AM 

10: Rita Coolidge – “All Time High”
From the film Octopussy (1983)

“All Time High” might initially sound like something taken from a glittery lounge bar somewhere in L.A. with its sexy introductory sax riff, but it soon slips into something more familiar. The song marked a return to songwriting duty for Bond theme composer John Barry, and once the chorus and strings start soaring, he sounds like he never left. Coolidge also casually worms her way into the surroundings, sounding both seductive and seduced and proving that you don’t have to utter the title of the film to stick in the listener’s mind. Then again, it’d be a hell of a feat for anyone to be able to slip the word “Octopussy” into a song and still sound sincere.

9.  Shirley Bassey – “Diamonds Are Forever”
From the film Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

If proof be needed that Bond Songs are timeless, then “Diamonds Are Forever” is a fine example of this, attaining a new set of listeners when Kanye West took to rapping over it. Bassey’s huge voice contrasting with the icy keys is a wonderfully chilling juxtaposition, and the tempo change changes makes it sound ahead of its time, creating an inspired sense of movement when it picks up.

8: Duran Duran – “A View To A Kill”
From the film A View To A Kill (1985)

Duran Duran’s “A View To Kill” might be a relic of its time (seriously, that video…), but that doesn’t mean it’s not quintessential. All flashy staccato strings and thunderous drums, it sounds a bit like a forgotten song from a game you might have played on your SNES or Sega Megadrive. Simon Le Bon shows that you don’t need a smooth or thunderous male voice to get the job done, and it’s also one of the few songs that carries itself without the film of the same name behind it – the fact that it’s the only Bond Song to have reached Number One proves this.

7: Tina Turner – “GoldenEye”
From the film GoldenEye (1995)

“GoldenEye” could be seen as “Goldfinger” for a new era of Bond films, with its snazzy brasswork, sneaking pizzicato strings, and smouldering finger snaps. Or, maybe Tina Turner is just a welcome stand in for Shirley Bassey. If the latter is the case, then Turner holds nothing back in delivering what might be her best vocal performance ever, if not the best of all the modern Bond Songs (which was written by Bono and The Edge… yeah, I didn’t realise that either, but hey, what can you do?). She snarls and prowls (like the cougar she is), but she also manages to pull off a bit cheekiness, too, with lines like, “If I had him I wouldn’t let him out.” I’ve heard people describe this as their favourite Bond Song, and considering GoldenEye as both a film and a classic N64 game hold a special place in many people’s hearts, it’s only fitting that they want the great sound of the title track to be stuck in their head, too.

6: Garbage – “The World Is Not Enough”
From the film The World Is Not Enough (1999)

There’s a disastrous moment in The World Is Not Enough when Bond (played by Pierce Brosnan) utters the film’s title as a retort to “I could have given you the world!” Every time I hear it I embarrassedly hold my head in my hands, and I hope the film’s writers do, too (they should pretty much keep their head in a perpetual state of hung shame, but this isn’t a film review). Shirley Manson of Garbage, however, sells the line brilliantly – over and over. She teases during the verses, and lets rip during the chorus, all the while sounding like she’s keeping something from you. The world might not be enough, but Manson sounds like she’s got what will suffice behind her back. Marrying David Arnold’s desire for a huge orchestrated Bond Song to Garbage’s own smouldering rock-balladry, the haunting and enchanting song is one of those instances where the song seems to outdo the film.

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