When IJM Head of Writing Staff Eli Colon mentioned that he wanted to do a series of seven Top 5 lists leading up to “Skyfall,” I thought it was a great idea. In fact, I even offered to take one of them off of his hands. I picked The Top 5 James Bond Opening Title Tracks category because I have always been a fan of the Bond songs, plus it was really easy to think of five Bond songs that I really enjoy.
However, as I gave it more thought, I realized that there are far more than five great Bond songs. Every time I came up with my definitive five, I realized I was leaving off too many good ones.
Also, there is plenty of discussion about what constitutes a “Bond song.” Is it any song from any Bond movie? Is it just the songs from the “official” releases? Do only the songs during the opening titles count? To clarify this, I am only considering the songs that appear during the opening credits of each of the first 22 official Bond films (Adele’s “Skyfall” theme is out the running since the movie hasn’t been released yet). In addition, I gave bonus points for songs to that have the same title as the movie.
5. A-Ha – “The Living Daylights”
Figuring out the top three songs on the list was easy (putting them in order, though, wasn’t). But choosing which songs finished fourth and fifth was much more difficult. Every time I chose them, I would look at what I left off and think about it again. Ultimately, though, I went with a song that is likely the most polarizing on the list. In the end, I had to go with the songs I wanted to go with and I just happen to really like A-Ha’s “The Living Daylights.” I just didn’t want to leave it off the list. I love the two different styles of singing and the overall catchiness of the song. If I hear it, I tend to get it stuck in my head. This is one of only two songs from A-Ha that I can name, but I think it’s their best song. The video is a little dated, though, so we’ll give the best video nod to “Take on Me.”
4. Lulu – “The Man with the Golden Gun”
Speaking of getting stuck in my head, this song is an earworm extreme for me. Once I hear it, it just doesn’t go away. Not only is it a fun song, it’s just filled with memorable lines that I constantly find myself singing.
“He has a powerful weapon – He charges a million a shot – An assassin that’s second to none – The man with the golden gun … Lurking in some darkened doorway – Or crouched on a roof top somewhere – In the next room, or this very one – The man with the golden gun … Love is required, whenever he’s hired – It comes just before the kill – No one can catch him, no hit man can match him — For his million dollar skill … One golden shot means another poor victim — Has come to a glittering end — For a price, he’ll erase anyone — The man with the golden gun.”
3. Paul McCartney and Wings – “Live and Let Die”
“Live and Let Die” is a classic rock song. Even a cover of the song by Guns ‘n Roses is excellent. Arguably, it’s the very best song on this list – but it’s not the best Bond song. This is a song that could exist in any movie from the ‘70s, or just as a song by itself. It is enhanced by its connection to a Bond film (even if it is one of the worst movies in the series), but listening to “Live and Let Die” doesn’t necessarily make you think of James Bond.
2. Shirley Bassey – “Goldfinger”
Listening to “Goldfinger” absolutely brings your mind into a very 007 state of being. Shirley Bassey’s voice is THE voice of the Bond franchise, musically-speaking, and to not have one of her tracks in the top five would invalidate the list. The fact that “Goldfinger” is the best film in the series helps, but the song just stands out on its own. It’s a powerful, catchy song and it would certainly be worthy of the top spot.
1. Duran Duran – “A View to a Kill”
At times when I put this list together, I tried to surmise what other people might put at No. 1 — and then, in the end, I discarded those thoughts and went with my own feelings on the matter. Not only is “A View to a Kill” a great Bond song, it’s just a great song overall. It’s energetic and it’s fun. If I was in a rock band, I would absolutely cover this song. Like “Live and Let Die,” it is paired with one of the series’ weaker movies, but it doesn’t matter. “A View To A Kill” holds the distinction of being the only Bond theme to ever hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart – and it is my choice for the No. 1 James Bond theme song of all time.
And for a second opinion, here are It’s Just Movies senior writer Josue Sanchez’s Top 5 selections:
- 1. “Goldfinger” – Because it started the Bond song craze.
2. “A View to a Kill” – Because it revived the Bond song popularity.
3. “Live and Let Die” – It was written by Paul McCartney and his wife, and covered by Guns and Roses, so it’s got to be good.
4. “From Russia with Love” – The instrumental version plays at the beginning of the movie, and the vocal version at the end. It is very catchy and Frank Sinatra-ish.
5. “Goldeneye” – Tina Turner. Nuff said.
And here is the complete list of Top 5 stories in our 7 Days of 007 series:
- “The Top 5 Bond Movie Opening Sequences”
“The Top 5 Bond Theme Songs”
“The Top 5 Bond Villains”
“The Top 5 Bond Girls”
“The Top 5 Bond Moments”
“The Top 5 Worst Bond Films”
“The Top 5 Greatest Bond Films”
. . .
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