Thursday, March 14, 2013

Questionable Bond No. 2

Almost as famous as the Bond villains are the Bond theme songs. For the most part, they’ve been great. . . but sometimes they’ve been not so great.

Question: "Name the best and the worst Bond theme song."

Andrew's Answer: I like almost every one of the theme songs, but to me, the best was Live and Let Die. That's just epic. It fits the series perfectly. The worst would be License to Kill, an eminently forgettable song sung by Gladys Knight. I can't even remember it most days.

Scott's Answer: Favorite is probably a toss-up between Goldfinger performed by Shirley Bassey and Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang performed by Dionne Warwick which was the original theme for Thunderball but dropped at the last minute. You can actually hear parts of it in John Barry's score. I'm also a fan of k.d. lang's "Surrender" which was the original theme for Tomorrow Never Dies but was moved to the end credits just before the film's release. Worst song would be "Die Another Day" by Madonna which is a shame since, while the film isn't that good, the title sequence itself is awesome. Even the song starts off okay but when Madonna and the Auto-Tune come in, forget it!

72 comments:

K said...

Bassey's iconic Goldfinger defined the early Bonds. Also Tom Jones' Thunderball theme was the same style and nearly as good. You can hear resonances of those Bond theme songs in the Bond homage in the Incredibles, for example.

As for the rest, I was really too busy ogling the opening visuals to really take in the soundtracks.

shawn said...

Goldfinger is the most iconic song, but the best is You Only Live Twice by Nancy Sinatra. Love that song.

Worst- The Living Daylights by Ah-ha.

Tennessee Jed said...

Shirley Bassey - Goldfinger. It's really not even all that close. It is iconic for a reason. Most underrated? From Russia with Love.(oh, sorry. You didn't ask that.) Worst ? Sorry Shawn, but a tie between Nancy Sinatra and Paul McCartney. Realize people that what I type here is 100% objective fact. There is no room or need for opinion since the question asks for best and worst rather than favorite and least favorite. (l.o.l.) In time, Skyfall may reach lofty heights.

tryanmax said...

"Live and Let Die" is easily my favorite. We'll have to go to the photograph to sort second and third between "Goldfinger" and "Skyfall". Worst? I think "Another Way to Die" (Quantum of Solace) is the worst. It's not merely forgettable, it actually rubs me wrong.

tryanmax said...

BTW, I don't think there was a bad theme in the '90s, but then, I was a teen in the '90s, so

PDBronco said...

First off, I'll confess that I haven't seen most of the later Bond films. I kinda lost interest after they chose Dalton over Brosnan (I think a younger Brosnan directly off of Remington Steele would have made a better Bond than the later Brosnan... but that's another show).

To me the best theme songs help to set up the mood of the movie. So for me that be "Goldfinger", "All the Time in the World", "Live and Let Die", and "You Only Live Twice". The worst tended to be those where the songwriters/performers were told to "...give us another 'Goldfinger'!"

ScottDS said...

K -

I'm a fan of the Tom Jones song as well, though I'm still not sure what a "thunderball" actually is!

And, yes, the visuals. ;-)

ScottDS said...

shawn -

I actually like the A-ha song, but there are two even better songs featured within the film itself: "Where Has Everybody Gone" and "If There Was a Man", both by The Pretenders.

ScottDS said...

Jed -

Would you believe 99% fact? :-)

To be fair, the Paul McCartney song accompanies the best final shot in any Bond film.

ScottDS said...

tryanmax -

I might be in the minority but I never had a problem with "Another Way to Die." That seems to be one of the more divisive songs in the Bond canon.

What about it rubs you the wrong way?

tryanmax said...

Scott, music is such a subjective thing, so it's hard for me to describe. All I can say is that it displeases me. I do not want to listen to it. It is more than I can tolerate.

ScottDS said...

PD -

Well, success has many imitators. It's like how Paramount wanted every post-Wrath of Khan Trek film to be "another Wrath of Khan," much to the detriment of the franchise.

djskit said...

"Live and Let Die" is on the top of my list. This song is on my IPod - does anyone have "Goldfinger" on theirs?

Also, the entire score was scored and produced by Sir George Martin. It elevates the entire movie (boat chases! aligators! pimps! Jane Seymour!) and for a Beatle junkie like me - the music is like a hit of crack.

Case study of the worst is Carly Simon and Marvin Hamlisch for the Spy Who Loved Me - It seems many of the Bond themes appear to be a hit singles with the title of the movie ackwardly inserted into the chorus. See: Duran Duran (View to a Kill) and Sheena Easton (For Your Eyes Only)

BIG MO said...

For me, “Live and Let Die” wins especially because the title song is worked so well into the actual score – particularly the end of the speedboat chase. Here’s the cue from the soundtrack: www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiI-CTFBRKQ

Worst? A tie between “A View to a Kill” and “The Living Daylights.”

AndrewPrice said...

K, Goldfinger definitely set the temp for big and bold. In fact, I like all of the early ones.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, Yeah, that one was pretty weak and I actually barely remember it.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Realize people that what I type here is 100% objective fact.

LOL! Jed has spoken! The matter is closed. :)

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I don't remember the songs in the 1990s, which is a bad sign. Those are pretty much the only era where the songs made no connection to me at all.

AndrewPrice said...

PDBronco, I like all of the original ones, even Diamonds Are Forever. I would say the first one that doesn't do much for me is probably The Man With the Golden Gun.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, A thunderball is a thunderball and Mr. Bond strikes like one... trust me. :)


I have a hard time remembering Another Way To Die, but I wasn't offended by it.

AndrewPrice said...

djskit, I go back and forth on A View To A Kill. I liked the song, I liked the band, it didn't really fit the idea of James Bond... but then, the film didn't either.

Tennessee Jed said...

djskit - maybe a better question is "does anybody else in the world have 'Live & Let Die' on their iPod besides you, and perhaps, Sir Paul'?" And why would would have any Bond song on their iPod, for heaven sake?

Just kidding you of course. People like what they like and for the reasons they like. For most, it almost never has anything close to actual objectivity. This is, after all, popular music for goodness sake. Perhaps, "elevating the entire movie" is a tad over the top, though.

djskit said...

Well, its not hard to elevate a movie with pimps and aligators....

AndrewPrice said...

I don't have an iPod, but I do have all of the James Bond films up through View To A Kill on my hard drive.

AndrewPrice said...

djskit, Pimping is cool. :)

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew: why not? :)

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, No need. My car has a hard drive and my computer plays music on its own, so I don't have a need for an MP3 player.

Tennessee Jed said...

I have heard of some of the newer cars hard drives selectively downloading music, but are you using some kind of Pandora type service? I know my youngest can hold his phone up to any source, and it will identify the song, and play other similar songs by the same artist. A lot of the music services seem to be subscription based. Assume your home computer is pulling stuff from the net?

AndrewPrice said...

My car has a hard drive with a graphic interface (not the greatest interface... very clunky, but it works). So I took the 3,500+ songs on my computer and transferred them to the car with a USB cable -- play lists and all. Now I can listen to whatever I want. I love it. :)

Tennessee Jed said...

sounds neat. I keep a 160 gig iPod for couple reasons. It also gives me a huge amount of space completely dedicated to music, and I still have a pretty nice portable speaker and a pair of Bose QC 15's that are great on a plane, while walking, or on the deck. I guess wireless will be the thing that eventually causes me to change. Strangely, among 5,000 plus songs, I have no Bonds.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That was my plan for my car until I got one with a hard drive. I highly recommend it. :)

K said...

Andrew: I always thought the guy who "Strikes like Thunderball" was Largo, especially since the previous song, Goldfinger was about the villain. Now that you mention it, however, Bond could fit the description as well - holy dialectical duality!

Tennessee Jed said...

so what do you do when you aren't in your car or at home?

AndrewPrice said...

K, I always took it as Bond. I never really saw a reference to Largo in the song.


Jed, I interact with the people around me. :)

Tennessee Jed said...

So how do you add new music to it?

AndrewPrice said...

I have a USB memory stick that I can use to add things, or I could plug in my computer to it and do it that way.

Like I said above, the interface itself is a bit clunky so I need to plan ahead with things like play lists, but once you understand that it's as easy as using Media Player or something like that.

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, Sorry about that -- you got caught by the spam filter. I agree about Live and Let Die, it worked on many levels, especially in connection with the visuals.

Anonymous said...

For best I'll pick Goldfinger by Shirley Bassey to represent the classics and Another Way To Die by Jack White & Alicia Keys from Quantum of Solace to represent the new school. I like how he meshed his own style (I'm a fan on most of his music) with the classic Bond style.

For worst I'll have to agree with Die Another Day by Madonna, it is just horrible, the auto tune sucks, the beat, the music everything about it sucks. And it doesn't even sound like a Bond theme song, it sounds like another bad Madonna song and the film clip is atrocious.

Scott.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I don't have anything against "Another Way To Die," but it's not my favorite. I like the theme from Casino Royale better.

Yeah, Madonna was a bad decision all around.

ScottDS said...

Andrew and Jed -

While in-car audio gear has improved by leaps and bounds, I can't help but remain skeptical. Hard drives are one thing but when it comes to, say, Bluetooth, and streaming something like Pandora from your phone to the car, to me, it's just another potential problem.

I'd rather plug in a phone or an iPod to an aux jack than have to depend on wireless connections and the "cloud" or services like iTunes Match which are great when they work but can create headaches later.

I'm only 30 - I'm not supposed to talk like this! :-)

ScottDS said...

Scott -

I agree re: "Die Another Day" - it just doesn't go with the film. I believe there was a "club remix" version... maybe it works better in that environment...?

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I don't trust clouds. But I do trust my hard drive because I control it.

ScottDS said...

djskit -

I'll have to disagree re: "Nobody Does It Better" and The Spy Who Loved Me. The song is one of the better Bond titles songs IMHO...

...on the other hand, the disco sections of Marvin Hamlisch's score are cringe-inducing!

What's sad is John Barry was never recognized by the Academy for his Bond work, but "guest composers" Marvin Hamlisch and Bill Conti were.

But hey, awards aren't always a sign of quality. :-)

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

Same here. I recognize cloud storage as a nice option to have but it just leads to more potential problems, which is why I prefer to keep everything local (and preferably in more than one place).

AndrewPrice said...

Same here. Clouds = control. And I don't trust the tech companies.

Backthrow said...

Best: GOLDFINGER - Shirley Bassey

So many of the subsequent theme songs (many of them good) are just variations on the GOLDFINGER theme, and this just crackles, Bassey and Barry both in peak form, and the lyrics are great.

I really like almost all the earlier themes, up through Easton's FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. The rest of the 1980s themes are either lightweight or entirely forgettable (LICENSE TO KILL, "All Time High" from OCTOPUSSY, LIVING DAYLIGHTS, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN); I don't think they're particularly terrible, just bland and a bit lazy. The weakest of the older themes, Lulu's jaggedly-sung MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, is often put at the very bottom of Bond theme song lists, but I don't think it's quite *that* bad... it's plenty silly, and certainly isn't one of John Barry's better days, but it's a little catchy, in hindsight. Far worse stuff came later. After the mostly-lackluster 1983-2002 period, Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name" from CASINO ROYALE was a real shot in the arm, like the film itself was.

I think Shirley Bassey's rendition of MR. KISS KISS BANG BANG is even better than Dionne Warwick's (whose vocal style sounds a little reedy-thin to me to carry a classic Bond theme), and has an added end flourish by John Barry that's awesome. LIVE AND LET DIE is great, but at the same time, I think it almost gets too much praise these days, just because it has Beatles alumni involved.

Worst: I can't decide which I hate more, the chaotic caterwauling and noise of "Another Way to Die" by Alicia Keyes and Jack White in QUANTUM OF SOLACE... or the trite Autotune (TM) assault on my eardrums from Madonna in DIE ANOTHER DAY, which sounds more appropriate for a movie version of KIM POSSIBLE, or another CHARLIE'S ANGELS flick, than anything 007.

I also dislike Sheryl Crowe's TOMORROW NEVER DIES theme (K.D. Lang's excellent "Surrender", in the end credits, should've been switched out for it!), and THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH by Garbage is 'meh' to me, at the very most.

Tennessee Jed said...

bravo, Backthrow, bravo :)

Tennessee Jed said...

Scott - I agree with you. I don't know how much capacity Andrew is talking about, and if I didn't already have a high capacity iPod (which really is a hard drive and software combo for music and video) and had purchased a car with one already installed, I can see not springing for an mp3.

But all kidding aside, Bose has done such a great job with small, portable, but effective speakers, I found no compelling reason to upgrade to wireless to synch with my computer since the iPod essentially does the same thing. I like the idea of having 5,000 tunes in my pocket when I go to get an infusion at the doctors that takes 2 and a half hours.

That said, I realize that technology heads a certain way, and virtually all t.v.'s are now ready to be wirelessly connected to the net. And, I have to admit, not keeping a library of DVD's has real space advantages. "If you are like me, and I know I am," you tend to research the technology before purchasing, then you kind of lose touch with what is going on until it's that time again." So I was trying to get a handle on how Andre's system operated.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, It's a 20 Gig hard drive. It came with the car. Here it is:

LINK.

AndrewPrice said...

Excellent analysis, Backthrow! I see you've given this some thought. :)

You make a great point about some of the more recent songs not fitting James Bond. I agree with that.

shawn said...

All right, so I broke out my 30th anniversary BOND theme set and listened to it. It goes up to License to Kill and boy, From Russia with Love by Matt Monro is pretty blah! He's a decent singer, but the song isn't doing it for me at all.

shawn said...

I got to admit, I'm kind of parital to Johnny Cash's "Thunderball". Which can be heard here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmUriQ_PJjY

PikeBishop said...

Loved "The Spy who Loved Me." Dug Carly's voice and thought it fit.

I realize I am in a distinct minority, but I've always liked "All Time High" from Octopussy, which Rita Coolidge herself is on record as hating.

Actually do like Duran Duran's "Dance into the Fire" (Sorry, guilty pleasure)

Of the classics, "Thunderball" and "Goldfinger" are my favs. I think it was Cubby Brocolli himself who quipped that Bassey didn't use a mike, she just sang directly onto record."

Has anyone else noticed the stupid extra preposition in "Live and Let Die?"

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, I do like From Russia With Love, I think it sets the tone for the romantic subplot very nicely. It fits somehow.

AndrewPrice said...

Pike, I do like Duran Duran and I do like their song(s), I just don't think they fit the film.

Extra preposition?

PikeBishop said...

Andrew: "In this ever changing world in which we live IN (!!!!!!!) My 9th Grade English teacher would have slapped Sir Paul silly for this one!

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, Oh, ok. I thought you meant in the title! I was trying to figure out if the sentence structure of the title somehow forced you to use extra prepositions, like "To live and to let to die" or something like that. Now it makes sense.

And yes... McCarty would get the death sentence on twelve systems if the universe were run by grammarians.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

I have a soft spot for Louis Armstrong's "All the Time in the World" from On Her Majesty's Secret Service... it's also my favorite Bond soundtrack/score... Barry outdid himself in that one.

But I agree Goldfinger is probably tops with Live and Let Die and Skyfall a strong 2-3

Anonymous said...

I did! Bassey's "Goldfinger" is the quintessential Bond theme. Thereafter, my favorite is Sheena Easton's "For Your Eyes Only."

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, I like "All the Time in the World" too. It's a very pretty song and it fits the romantic angle of that film perfectly.

AndrewPrice said...

Anon, Goldfinger seems to be a very popular choice.

MrEPluribus said...

Fave: Duran Duran's "A View to a Kill" or Tom Jones' "Thunderball"
Least: As much as I love her, Tina Turner's "Goldeneye"

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, I want to like Tina Turner's "Goldeneye," but I just can't. It feels too generic to me.

Dave Olson said...

"For Your Eyes Only" was the first Bond movie I saw in the cinema, and it was the only one I know of that had the singer in the titles. I was smitten, and remain so to this day. It's still my favorite.

Not necessarily the worst but surely the most over-rated are "Goldfinger" and "Live and Let Die". The former is the vocal equivalent of hundreds of nails on a chalkboard, and the less said about it the better. The latter is just a lazy song by the future "Sir" Paul. Seriously, have you ever really listened to the song? There's no "there" there. Two iterations of a narcoleptic chorus and a single verse composed of all of four lines. Four frickin' lines!

What does it matter to ya/
when you got a job to do
you gotta do it well/
you gotta get the upper hand.

Doesn't exactly rise to the level of "tangerine dreams and marmalade skies", does it? Hell, that doesn't even rise to the level of "Domo Arigato, Mister Roboto." And no, it's not grammatically incorrect, he's saying "but in this ever changing world in which we're living".

Dave Olson said...

Forgot to mention that I still haven't seen "Skyfall", because I can't stomach the thought of paying good money to hear Adelle warble her way through the opening titles.

Kenn Christenson said...

Have to agree with those who like "For Your Eyes Only." Also second Duran Duran's "A View To A Kill," Cool song for an abysmal film.

AndrewPrice said...

Dave, Definitely a contrary opinion today. That's why we ask the questions! :)

AndrewPrice said...

Kenn, I like "For Your Eyes Only" a lot. I think it was a good song that feels unique and fits the mood well.

Paulman said...

I also enjoyed the lang "Surrender" song over the Crow mess they went with (I heard the record label forced the change). I the Quantum of Silence theme left you cold, you may enjoy the rejected one: "Forever - I Am All Yours": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zg2dXY9TOKA

Paulman said...

"Solace", not "Silence", that is...

Backthrow said...

Thanks for the link, Paulman... that tune is far better than what we got. It sort of strikes me as a combination of Shirley Bassey-style strong female vocals with the drive of Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name".

Voz said...

You Know My Name by Chris Cornell is one of my favorites...it should have gotten more love in the comments I believe...only a couple people mentioned it.

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