What's the best Bond theme?

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Quite impressively, almost all of these songs by different acts have a very distinctive style that makes them sound very much like typical Bond themes. But which one is the best?

Poll Results

OptionVotes
Live And Let Die - Paul McCartney & Wings 15
You Only Live Twice - Nancy Sinatra 13
James Bond Theme - John Barry 12
You Know My Name - Chris Cornell11
Nobody Does It Better - Carly Simon 10
We Have All The Time In The World - Louis Armstrong 5
Diamonds Are Forever - Shirley Bassey 5
Goldfinger - Shirley Bassey 5
A View To a Kill - Duran Duran 4
Die Another Day - Madonna 3
On Her Majesty's Secret Service - John Barry 2
Thunderball - Tom Jones 2
License To Kill - Gladys Knight 1
The Living Daylights - a-ha 1
Goldeneye - Tina Turner 1
James Bond Theme - Moby 0
Tomorrow Never Dies - Sheryl Crow 0
The World Is Not Enough - Garbage 0
All Time High - Rita Coolidge 0
For Your Eyes Only - Sheena Easton 0
From Russian With Love - Matt Munro 0
The Man With The Golden Gun - Lulu 0
Moonraker - Shirley Bassey 0


Geir Hongro, Saturday, 2 June 2007 01:49 (fourteen years ago) link

Voted for "Goldfinger"

But it was a tough choice, as Duran Duran, Wings, Tina Turner, Carly Simon, Sheena Easton and Garbage have all done really good Bond songs too.

Geir Hongro, Saturday, 2 June 2007 01:50 (fourteen years ago) link

Hard to choose, as I technically prefer some of these as songs (e.g. Live and Let Die), but my vote for best "Bond theme" goes to Carly Simon.

dlp9001, Saturday, 2 June 2007 02:18 (fourteen years ago) link

Oh, and where's "Casino Royale"/"The Look of Love"

dlp9001, Saturday, 2 June 2007 02:21 (fourteen years ago) link

This is actually harder than I thought. I'll have to listen to the actualy songs, but in terms of artists I love Sheena Easton, Nancy Sinatra, Duran Duran, Tom Jones, A Ha. Tina Turner's song is from a period of her career I'm not into, but I still like her.

filthy dylan, Saturday, 2 June 2007 05:51 (fourteen years ago) link

Bon. Simon le Bon.

Joe, Saturday, 2 June 2007 10:21 (fourteen years ago) link

Sadly my favourite Bond song, 'Surrender' by KD Lang isn't on the list. I guess a torch song from a gorgeous lesbian wasn't going to fit the Bond brand as comfortably as whitebread Sheryl Crow.

Of the choices, it's between Nancy and Shirley for me.

Billy Dods, Saturday, 2 June 2007 10:34 (fourteen years ago) link

I went for John Barry's main theme, as without it the James Bond character would have just been a sadistic, dated misogynist. The whole premise rested on having that music to make him look cool.

Matt #2, Saturday, 2 June 2007 10:54 (fourteen years ago) link

no propellerheads, no credibility...

Just got offed, Saturday, 2 June 2007 11:22 (fourteen years ago) link

Voted for Carly.

Mark Rich@rdson, Saturday, 2 June 2007 12:34 (fourteen years ago) link

voted for Carly.

still to hear the radiohead version.

didn't Monty Norman do the Bond theme??

Hamildan, Saturday, 2 June 2007 13:51 (fourteen years ago) link

voted for Carly.

still to hear the radiohead version.

green did the definitive version of "nobody does it better." imagine it being sung in unison by prince, john lennon, and smokey robinson, backed by the spiders from mars. i don't think they ever recorded/released it, just played it live.

Lawrence the Looter, Saturday, 2 June 2007 13:57 (fourteen years ago) link

The correct answer is "You Only Live Twice", crazy people.

Noodle Vague, Saturday, 2 June 2007 15:51 (fourteen years ago) link

As a kid I used to read the Ian Fleming novels while listening to an LP that collected all the Bond themes. "Moonraker" was the newest one so I guess I was about 12. What a sad day when I finished them all.

Mark Rich@rdson, Saturday, 2 June 2007 16:24 (fourteen years ago) link

I'm not sure which is the best song yet, but I do know that I would like to hear a Soundgarden cover of "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)".

Pleasant Plains, Saturday, 2 June 2007 16:27 (fourteen years ago) link

Alice Cooper recorded a song called "The Man With The Golden Gun" (it was on the Muscle Of Love LP) prior to that film's release in a bald-faced attempt to get it on the soundtrack...didn't work...

henry s, Saturday, 2 June 2007 16:29 (fourteen years ago) link

"Goldfinger," because he loves only gold, only gold, HE LOVES GOLD!!!, although the Duran Duran is a close second because obviously when you dance into the fire, that fatal kiss IS all you need.

dr. phil, Sunday, 3 June 2007 00:59 (fourteen years ago) link

Nodoby does it better than Bond anyway (although Le Bon may be a close second)

Geir Hongro, Sunday, 3 June 2007 02:01 (fourteen years ago) link

I voted partially out of spite.

Just got offed, Sunday, 3 June 2007 02:03 (fourteen years ago) link

I'm not sure if I'm going to vote for it (there are a lot of songs on here that I love), but I think "You Know My Name" deserves a little love. I didn't like it when I first heard it, but it grew on me a lot, especially within the framework of the film. It also does a great job of evoking the film after you've seen it. Every time I hear the song, or even think of it, it brings to mind the movie instantly and makes me want to go watch it (not that that takes much, seeing as how it's an excellent film). You can't say that about all the Bond themes, a lot of which sound great as singles but don't do a good job of matching the films.

Jeff Treppel, Sunday, 3 June 2007 02:38 (fourteen years ago) link

Jeff, the only other person I know who loves that one is my mom. What this means I don't know.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 3 June 2007 02:44 (fourteen years ago) link

My mother has actually seen more Bond movies than I have! Which is, admittedly, only one, since she's seen all of them and I've seen all of them but Moon Raker, but clearly women of all ages love James Bond. Amusingly enough, she thinks Daniel Craig isn't very handsome, even though he's a great Bond. I don't know what that has to do with anything, but I still like the song. I'm not even a very big Chris Cornell fan, either.

Jeff Treppel, Sunday, 3 June 2007 02:49 (fourteen years ago) link

I have a collection of Bond themes, but it's elsewhere at the moment. I don't even remember the License to Kill theme. As forgettable as the movie, I suppose.

Jeff Treppel, Sunday, 3 June 2007 02:57 (fourteen years ago) link

That theme is very lame. Gladys Knight is wasted on a dull romantic ballad.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 3 June 2007 02:59 (fourteen years ago) link

The weirdest one is probably "Die Another Day." Who would've expected Madonna to turn in the least poppy, most abstract theme of them all?

Jeff Treppel, Sunday, 3 June 2007 03:08 (fourteen years ago) link

I'm gonna die... another day! I'm gonna die... another day!

Mordechai Shinefield, Sunday, 3 June 2007 05:07 (fourteen years ago) link

That's the one I voted for.

Mordechai Shinefield, Sunday, 3 June 2007 05:07 (fourteen years ago) link

Carly makes me feel sad for the rest, really.

Mark Rich@rdson, Sunday, 3 June 2007 12:02 (fourteen years ago) link

I voted for "We Have All The Time In The World" not just for the original but the MBV cover.

2for25, Sunday, 3 June 2007 13:58 (fourteen years ago) link

The main Bond theme, obviously as it is one of the most exhilarating pieces of music ever. In an ideal world it would be our national anthem. Honourable mentions: Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Nobody Does it Better, View to a Kill, Living Daylights. And I must be the only person in the world who thinks the Cornell effort wasn't that bad: kinda catchy.

chap, Sunday, 3 June 2007 15:38 (fourteen years ago) link

Who has the largest number of songs that might have been Bond themes but weren't? Portishead? Cher?

Geir Hongro, Sunday, 3 June 2007 17:41 (fourteen years ago) link

Goldfrapp's first album is basically a collection of Bond themes that weren't.

chap, Sunday, 3 June 2007 17:52 (fourteen years ago) link

And I must be the only person in the world who thinks the Cornell effort wasn't that bad: kinda catchy.

*points to his three posts above talking about how he likes the Cornell theme*

Jeff Treppel, Sunday, 3 June 2007 19:44 (fourteen years ago) link

Oh yeah. I have a bad habit of not reading threads properly before I post.

chap, Sunday, 3 June 2007 20:13 (fourteen years ago) link

so many good tunes. has to be 'you only live twice', tho - so seductive and eerie.

stevie, Sunday, 3 June 2007 21:04 (fourteen years ago) link

heard that Cornell tune in Virgin the other day and I agree, it doesn't get enough love.

Best alternate Universe Bond theme?

Amy Winehouse - Goldfinger.

Hamildan, Sunday, 3 June 2007 23:03 (fourteen years ago) link

Who has the largest number of songs that might have been Bond themes but weren't? Portishead? Cher?

The Beach Boys had the best one.

St3ve Go1db3rg, Sunday, 3 June 2007 23:35 (fourteen years ago) link

?

Which one?

I know, right?, Sunday, 3 June 2007 23:36 (fourteen years ago) link

The track Pet Sounds was originally going to be called "Run James, Run" and Brian Wilson was going to submit it as Bond music. I think the story goes that he got depressed or something and decided it wasn't good enough and so never submitted it, changed the title, and it ended up on the album of the same name.

St3ve Go1db3rg, Sunday, 3 June 2007 23:44 (fourteen years ago) link

And I was being kind of tongue-in-cheek about it being the best one, as I don't know many other almost-Bond-theme songs, but I quite like Pet Sounds.

St3ve Go1db3rg, Sunday, 3 June 2007 23:44 (fourteen years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

ILX System, Monday, 4 June 2007 23:01 (fourteen years ago) link

Who has the largest number of songs that might have been Bond themes but weren't? Portishead? Cher?

nancy sinatra (who did actually have one, but she could've pretty much had them all)

fact checking cuz, Tuesday, 5 June 2007 01:29 (fourteen years ago) link

if tom doesn't win then there's something terribly, terribly wrong with the world.

m the g, Tuesday, 5 June 2007 08:55 (fourteen years ago) link

Who has the largest number of songs that might have been Bond themes but weren't? Portishead? Cher?

As I said in this thread, Fantasy James Bond themes, Pet Shop Boys should have had a Bond theme. 1985 to 1988 PSB has the sound of John Barry running through it like a stick of rock.

Billy Dods, Tuesday, 5 June 2007 09:21 (fourteen years ago) link

LIEV AND LET DIE! I WILL MAKE MORE

The Real Dirty Vicar, Tuesday, 5 June 2007 09:23 (fourteen years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

ILX System, Tuesday, 5 June 2007 23:01 (fourteen years ago) link

Surprised at the low number of votes for "Goldfinger" and "A View to a Kill." And the high number of votes for the Cornell song, considering the lack of appreciation for it on the thread itself.

Jeff Treppel, Tuesday, 5 June 2007 23:06 (fourteen years ago) link

low number of votes for "Goldfinger"

can we get a recount?

fact checking cuz, Tuesday, 5 June 2007 23:09 (fourteen years ago) link

for "Goldfinger" not to have won this, far and away, is an absolute goddamned sham.

Sum Fitch, Tuesday, 5 June 2007 23:21 (fourteen years ago) link

I voted Goldfinger.

Herman G. Neuname, Tuesday, 5 June 2007 23:28 (fourteen years ago) link

I heard the Adele one from another room just yesterday and was thinking it was pretty good. First real listen dispelled that quickly. It's pretty much made to be half-heard while not paying attention, in which case it gets the job done...

dlp9001, Thursday, 11 October 2012 22:33 (nine years ago) link

"Still stand by my repping for kd Lang's 'Surrender'. Happily someone has righted the wrong and replaced Sheryl Crow."

Now Surrender is good. But Sheryl's Tomorrow Never Dies is better. Definitely the most underrated Bond theme and a top 3 contender.

The votes for Cornell here are hilarious, though.

abcfsk, Thursday, 11 October 2012 23:00 (nine years ago) link

Sheryl's Tomorrow Never Dies is better. Definitely the most underrated Bond theme and a top 3 contender.

*brain explodes*

Johnny Fever, Thursday, 11 October 2012 23:10 (nine years ago) link

Sheryl's Tomorrow Never Dies is better. Definitely the most underrated Bond theme and a top 3 contender.

You know what - it hurts me to say this but this is pretty much OTM - never thought I'd ever rep for a 90's bond themes sung by Sheryl friggin Crow.
Also, the Garbage one was totally robbed.

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Monday, 15 October 2012 09:47 (nine years ago) link

i bet mark ronson's feeling like a dick now for not holding amy's trackmarked hand through what could have been a great final hurrah for her.

also:

For Your Eyes Only - Sheena Easton 0
From Russian With Love - Matt Munro 0
The Man With The Golden Gun - Lulu 0

?!?!?!?!?!?

messiahwannabe, Monday, 15 October 2012 12:05 (nine years ago) link

This poll result is making me legitimately angry. Who votes for Chris Cornell?!? SMH

controversial cabaret roommate (Nicole), Monday, 15 October 2012 12:14 (nine years ago) link

had no idea 10 of Chris Cornell's cousins and his mom posted to ILX

The Owls of Ja Rule (DJP), Monday, 15 October 2012 13:33 (nine years ago) link

The only reasonable explanation I can think of is that the Cornell song was the only James Bond theme these voters had ever heard.

controversial cabaret roommate (Nicole), Monday, 15 October 2012 13:58 (nine years ago) link

If I'd been around for this poll Matt Munro would have got at least the one vote. I love that song.

The Adele song is really unremarkable in my book, I think it's getting such an easy ride because people still have PTSD from Jack White and Alicia Keys.

Leonard Pine, Monday, 15 October 2012 14:04 (nine years ago) link

It's not all that great, but it's more of a traditional Bond theme than the last two travesties have been.

controversial cabaret roommate (Nicole), Monday, 15 October 2012 14:06 (nine years ago) link

I wonder if "traditional" is necessarily good in the Bond context. McCartney justly topped this poll, cos his theme broke the mould, which was getting a little too easy listening for its own good. He gave us a rock song built of fragments, with that exciting instrumental spliced in that was so good to run over the chase scenes.

Dr X O'Skeleton, Monday, 15 October 2012 19:28 (nine years ago) link

i think the cornell song is pretty legit, even though his voice isnt what it used to be. its not some stupid herky-jerky bond-hating bullshit like the jack white number, it's a pretty traditional sounding bond song except for the guitars - so its got some old bond flavor but it lets you know this is a new take on bond

turds (Hungry4Ass), Monday, 15 October 2012 23:25 (nine years ago) link

^^^
Very catchy chorus as well.

I wish to incorporate disco into my small business (chap), Tuesday, 16 October 2012 01:09 (nine years ago) link

There are incredible Bondy strings and horns on it.

I wish to incorporate disco into my small business (chap), Tuesday, 16 October 2012 01:10 (nine years ago) link

incrediblY Bondy.

I wish to incorporate disco into my small business (chap), Tuesday, 16 October 2012 01:11 (nine years ago) link

ten months pass...

Just watched Octopussy the other night and my main takeaway was how baaaaaaaaad the theme song was. Sounded like a karaoke performance of a demo of the world's most generic early-80s TV show theme ballad. Just awful. You'd think with a name like "Octopussy," you'd get something interesting going.

Doctor Casino, Friday, 30 August 2013 06:28 (eight years ago) link

Disagree - I dig it, but I tend to also enjoy themes for being unintentionally funny and at odds with its movie in interestings ways. Well let's face it I love 99% of the Bond themes.

It's not a stunner on first listen but it has a weird charm. Your description isn't wrong, but doesn't make it less good. It's hilarious to me how serious-faced it is in its cheesy balladry, set up against the movie and its title. "I'm in so strong and so deep, and so are you". Sneaky melody when you sit through it many times as well.

Another funny is how the 'Moonraker' theme might be the series most elegant.

abcfsk, Friday, 30 August 2013 06:44 (eight years ago) link

There's a question that hasn't been discussed here, except briefly by chap with "bondy strings and horns" : what makes a song Bondy ? Just the use of the strings and horns in a way that reminds Barry's theme ?

AlXTC from Paris, Friday, 30 August 2013 13:23 (eight years ago) link

two years pass...

From Russia With Love underrated here

welltris (crüt), Monday, 9 November 2015 05:17 (five years ago) link

nine months pass...

Had a dream last night where one of the early Bond themes was to the tune of the song Smokey the Bear, but instead of "a-prowlin' and a-growlin'" the lyric was "a-rakin' and a-rapin'".

how's life, Monday, 29 August 2016 14:51 (five years ago) link

five years pass...

"Another Way to Die" is so so fucking bad, oh my gooooooooood. I forgot how much I hated this pile of shit.

Gardyloominati (Neanderthal), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 03:21 (two weeks ago) link

It's truly dire.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 12 October 2021 03:36 (two weeks ago) link

yeah it’s bad. its a pity because i really love the imagery in the credit sequence, so now i just watch w the sound off lol

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 03:46 (two weeks ago) link

From Russia With Love is good, bummed that it got no votes.

And I have a soft spot for All Time High

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 03:56 (two weeks ago) link

I will always love "All Time High" just because there was no way in hell that a Bond theme song would ever be called "Octopussy," though I'm imagining what would have happened if Rudy Ray Moore had ever done a Bond theme for whatever reason.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 12 October 2021 04:03 (two weeks ago) link

How the heck did Portishead never do one of these?

Chuckles on the Rudy Ray Moore doing a Bond theme...

earlnash, Tuesday, 12 October 2021 04:07 (two weeks ago) link

Joe Tex & the Sexolets wouldve crushed the Octospussy theme

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 04:26 (two weeks ago) link

...or the B-52's.

Fred Schneider: "...and they called her Oct-O-Pussy!"

Precious, Grace, Hill & Beard LTD. (C. Grisso/McCain), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 05:52 (two weeks ago) link

i think the one area in which the craig-era almost totally struck out on was bond themes. brosnan had four excellent ones. the best craig theme is "you know my name," which is AWESOME. "skyfall" and "no time to die" are ok-to-good approximations of what a bond theme feels like. "another way to die" and "the writing's on the wall" are just godawful

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 12:18 (two weeks ago) link

there's an instrumental version of "another way".... which still isn't that good. jack white's guitar riffs are too basic, and there's too many different song sections.

adam t. (abanana), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 12:36 (two weeks ago) link

...or the B-52's.

Fred Schneider: "...and they called her Oct-O-Pussy!"

― Precious, Grace, Hill & Beard LTD. (C. Grisso/McCain),

SAH-PRIIIIZZZE!

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 13:05 (two weeks ago) link

I want this world to exist. Especially the tie-in video on the lines of Duran's "View to a Kill" video. (Or imagine Fred in the opening credits a la Sheena Easton for For Your Eyes Only.)

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 12 October 2021 14:27 (two weeks ago) link

Of the modern-era (Dalton/Brosnan/Craig) I mostly have time for these ten:
1. Propellerheads
2. Garbage
3. A-Ha
4. kd Lang
5. Scott Walker
6. Moby
7. Billie Eilish
8. Adele
9. Sheryl Crow
10. Tina Turner

Siegbran, Tuesday, 12 October 2021 15:28 (two weeks ago) link

Xp real lolz thinking of a B52 theme although Planet Claire is already a pretty close approximation

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 15:39 (two weeks ago) link

He came from Planet Bond
Almost drowned in a pond
He drove an Aston Martin
A-wants vodka martinis, not gin!

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 12 October 2021 16:22 (two weeks ago) link

Metallica is going to do the next bond theme.

Bond will be played by Tom Hardy

The first film will be called

"To Live is to Die"

Inexplicably, the song will be titled

"Ruin Nation"

Gardyloominati (Neanderthal), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 17:25 (two weeks ago) link

i really hope they gender flip bond with the next casting but otherwise i wish all of those sentences were true

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 17:31 (two weeks ago) link

yeah i’d love Bond to be a woman

hard pass on Tom Hardy

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 17:37 (two weeks ago) link

tom hanks is james bond in... no dying in baseball

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 17:42 (two weeks ago) link

Not saying I *want* Tom Hardy, just guessing the predictable way they will go

Gardyloominati (Neanderthal), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 17:50 (two weeks ago) link

if metallica does the bond theme then john woo better direct because 90’s mission impossible is what we all clearly want here

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 17:57 (two weeks ago) link

Siegbran’s list is especially good bcz there are two guesses for #1.

bobo honkin' slobo babe (sic), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 21:19 (two weeks ago) link

Haha yeah, but their Goldfinger remix is pretty unremarkable.

Siegbran, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 14:22 (two weeks ago) link

The Propheads OHMSS version is one of the very few Bond tunes that capture the kinetic energy of the movies - I like dramatic orchestral ballads as much as the next guy/gal but in the end these movies are 90% hyperactive chase scenes.

Siegbran, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 14:32 (two weeks ago) link

I honestly thought History Repeating was the most likely reference!

bobo honkin' slobo babe (sic), Wednesday, 13 October 2021 15:09 (two weeks ago) link

ah yeah but that was never a Bond tune. It's also funny to read about the rejected bond themes:

Ace Of Base were supposed to do Goldeneye, which was reworked into this - surprisingly it's not cod-reggae europop:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_s1GuSjl-I

Pet Shop Boys reworked their rejected The Living Daylights song into this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKW6BcTcRJ8

Saint Etienne Tomorrow Never Dies:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLsyuMYYb3A

Straw The World Is Not Enough

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRrL3d4qrMo

Johnny Cash Thunderball

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-AN5mJF13A

Radiohead Spectre

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLiDemXYSLc

Siegbran, Thursday, 14 October 2021 11:18 (one week ago) link

Wasn't there an Alice Cooper version of the Man With the Golden Gun as well?

chap, Thursday, 14 October 2021 11:21 (one week ago) link

Yeah, mentioned upthread, but I guess the link is gone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R500VKA9-Zo

Also, the Blondie one is also a dead link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3anh2SV-7s

And here's Natacha Atlas & David Arnold doing a very serviceable You Only Live Twice:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0dkXSGNzZE

Siegbran, Thursday, 14 October 2021 11:29 (one week ago) link

ah yeah but that was never a Bond tune.

Yah but you listed several not-Bond-themes from the reject pile.

(Pulp didn’t even have to change their rejected theme’s name to disguise it, as the movie helpfully changed their own instead)

bobo honkin' slobo babe (sic), Thursday, 14 October 2021 13:32 (one week ago) link


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