Monday, 26 October 2015

My Three Least Favourite Bond Themes

Today sees the latest and hotly anticipated James Bond adventure, Spectre, arrive on our cinema screens.

The theme tune, Writing's On The Wall, by Sam Smith has come in for some criticism in quarters as being a bit weak and ineffectual. I can see where these objections are coming from; the song builds very well but doesn't seem to go anywhere, delivering a rather maudlin chorus rather than the bombastic, rousing lift we're familiar with. But on the whole, the song is effective enough and is certainly scored in an atmospheric manner which is both haunting and catchy. 

See what you think;

It's not really that bad is it?

Anyway, bearing in mind the flak Sam Smith has taken, I thought I'd share what I believe to be the three worst Bond themes in my opinion. Here they are, in no particular order;

The Man With The Golden Gun - Lulu.

I've never really been a fan of Lulu's music, though To Sir, With Love is the exception that proves the rule. Unlike that successful theme to a movie, her attempt at a James Bond theme was truly dismal. It also boasts John Barry's most risible, uninteresting score and proves that a shit Bond film always seems to equal a shit Bond theme.

Die Another Day - Madonna

"Sigmund Freud, analyse this" sings/speaks the diminutive '80s legend at one point. No prizes for guessing Freud's subsequent findings revealed that this was a terrible, embarrassment of a Bond theme. Speaking of embarrassing, a small, wizened chew toy of a man delivers an incredibly wooden performance as fencing mistress Verity. Rumour has it this was Madonna - how strange! Once again, a shit Bond theme for one of the franchises all time worst instalments.

Another Way To Die - Jack White & Alicia Keys

A deeply risible caterwauling duet between Jack White and Alicia Keys marked Daniel Craig's second outing as 007. We expected so much after the great Casino Royale and its theme from Chris Cornell, You Know My Name. What we got was a tedious adventure set to an abysmal track which plunders the Cornell riff and has a truly cringeworthy 'Woah-oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh' wail-off between White and Keys that sounds like they recorded the vocals on a ride at Alton Towers. Some neat tricksy rhyming lyrics (''Another dirty money heaven sent honey turning on a dime'') is all this theme has in its favour.

So you see, when you consider this terrible trio, Sam Smith's Writing's On The Wall really isn't that bad at all is it?

Narrowly avoiding the final three was Sheryl Crow's Tomorrow Never Dies

Many people consider this a bad song. Personally, I think it's just disappointing. There's some lovely touches to it and it's very retro '60s with its Barry-esque use of the cimbalom whilst at the same time retaining a contemporary '90s flavour but it's just an average song really, and poor Sheryl Crow - who I'm a fan of - was an admittedly strange choice for a Bond theme and seems lost in awe of the singing greats who came before her. They should have had the nerve to go with KD Lang's offering, hastily retitled Surrender and used to close the film instead.

And you may be interested to hear I have no issue with Rita Coolidge's theme for Octopussy, All Time High. I've regularly seen that met with some derision but personally I think it's a very sweet song, if a little misplaced for a Bond theme - though it's clearly following in the footsteps of Carly Simon's Nobody Does It Better (The Spy Who Loved Me) and Sheena Easton's For Your Eyes Only.

Oh and not all shit Bond films mean a shit theme - Moonraker by Shirley Bassey is sublime, whereas the film is anything but! I even love the disco version!

So, now I've set the (Thunder)ball rolling, what's your least favourite Bond film and why? I'd love to hear from you, so get commenting! And if you've seen Spectre before me, feel free to gush enthusiastically about it - but no spoilers please!


  1. Your bottom three are my bottom three! Great minds, once again, think alike.

    Actually, I'm convinced I did a "Bond themes ranked" list on Letterboxd a while back, but now I can't seem to find it.

    1. We're too cool for school!

      HTV is ridic slow right now btw, so I'm barely on it

    2. Well now, there's a surprise!

      Actually, I found my work in progress list lying about on my hard drive. Looks like the reason I never posted it on Letterboxd is that I still have a handful of themes to slot in:

      1. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service — John Barry
      2. For Your Eyes Only — Sheena Easton
      3. Thunderball — Tom Jones
      4. Live and Let Die — Paul McCartney & Wings
      5. Goldfinger — Shirley Bassey
      6. Skyfall — Adele
      7. Licence to Kill — Gladys Knight
      8. A View to a Kill — Duran Duran
      9. The Living Daylights — a-Ha
      10. The World is Not Enough — Garbage
      11. Goldeneye — Tina Turner
      12. Nobody Does it Better (The Spy Who Loved Me) — Carole King
      13. You Know My Name (Casino Royale) — Chris Cornell
      14. Tomorrow Never Dies — Sheryl Crow
      15. All Time High (Octopussy) — Rita Coolidge
      16. Another Way to Die (Quantum of Solace) — Jack White & Alicia Keys
      17. The Man with the Golden Gun — Lulu
      18. Die Another Day — Madonna

  2. Ooh interesting list! I'd have to put Nobody Does It Better, Licence To Kill, Live and Let Die, You Only Live Twice, Goldfinger, Moonraker, From Russia With Love and Diamonds Are Forever, A View To A Kill and The Living Daylights in the top 10 - but then there's We Have All The Time In The World and OHMSS to consider too. Ack! Too hard!!

    1. To tell the truth, if you asked me to create that list from scratch now it would probably look completely different (barring the bottom three, which are truly excruciating). They're all so different that it's very difficult to rank them, not least given how mood-dependent an experience listening to music is.