Sam Smith is certainly the “chosen one” these days. Not only is he the only musical artist who actually does all his own singing who sells enough music to hang around the Billboard charts like he’s Dark Side of the Moon, but he’s been chosen to kick off this year’s James Bond film Spectre with “The Writing’s on the Wall” (which, we will presume, is not related to the Destiny’s Child album of the same title).
It’s too early to tell whether “The Writing’s on the Wall” will rank among the very best tunes performed in service of a James Bond film, but if ol’ level-headed Smith proves true to form, he and the tune will hang around the very top of future lists, for sure.
Here are the top 10 James Bond themes, as of September 2015. Be assured that the earliest official “James Bond Theme” tunes, with the cool surf guitars, are still the absolute best, but I’m simply not going there, since, truth told, I’d rather look at a picture of Sheryl Crow. And I know how much it annoys people when my criteria makes little sense! But I gotta give the people what they really want! And that’s people they’ve heard of!
10. Nancy Sinatra - “You Only Live Twice” (1967)
The world may know her best for “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” and hardcore music fans scoop up everything she’s done with Lee Hazlewood, but moviegoers surely know her for this atmospheric truism. You do only live twice! Sadly, one of those times is as a mosquito.
9. Alicia Keys featuring Jack White - “Another Way to Die” (2008, Quantum of Solace)
It’s a different era, for sure. This isn’t some retro-glance with vintage strings and soothing, seductive vocals, but an aggressive romp that turns up the heat. It’s like “Ebony and Ivory” for the hip-hop generation. Old people got scared when they heard this song coming out of the movie speakers. Forget the popcorn! Grab your heart medicine, oldsters!
8. Madonna - “Die Another Day” (2002)
The movie got some less than enthusiastic reviews. Just like latter-day Madonna. But I like to think every veteran performer has a reserve they can draw from when the times call for it, and this tune has the sound of Madonna running hard. Whether or not she’s out of breath by the end is for people far more concerned with these things to worry about. I didn’t leave.
7. Sheena Easton - “For Your Eyes Only” (1981)
Sheena (not a punk rocker) Easton had a #1 hit with the clean-and-scrubbed “Morning Train (Nine to Five),” so it was a surprise to hear the future Miss Sugar Walls singing so seductively and sounding so diva-ish! All the boys had thought we could bring her home to Mom! Not anymore!
6. Shirley Bassey - “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971)
Shirley Bassey provided her voice to three Bond films, and “Goldfinger” would be the obvious choice, but a Yahoo Music List isn’t about parroting the choices everyone else makes, but about taking a stand for the underdog!
5. Sheryl Crow - “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997)
It sure was a surprise to hear Sheryl Crow turning in such a sultry performance. We all knew she had it in her, but her own music is just so downright catchy that to hear her compose and perform a tune so perfect for a film context made us think she just might be the greatest woman alive today. (Present girlfriend excluded.)
4. Tom Jones - “Thunderball” (1965)
Why are all these keys being thrown at the movie screen, you ask? It’s because (The Ghost of) Tom Jones is trembling through this theme song that is the closest anyone’s ever come to providing music as dripping with sex appeal as Sean Connery himself. Or so I’m told by my aunt.
3. Garbage - “The World Is Not Enough” (1999)
I have it on good word that Shirley Manson, the singer for Garbage, is one determined human being, that she could bend a man’s will to her own just by staring them down. So, who is more perfect for tackling a James Bond Theme Song? Answer: No One. Besides, with three record producers in the band, it isn’t like they’re going to leave her out there naked!
2. Paul McCartney and Wings - “Live and Let Die” (1973)
Not even Axl Rose and his Guns N’ Roses could kill this fine song. Nope! This everchanging world in which we live in may give English professors a mild heart attack, but Paul McCartney’s patented musical adventurism coupled with producer George Martin’s masterful work (they both used to work together in a little skiffle group called the Beatles) made this one of the most exciting theme songs of all time.
1. Duran Duran - “A View to a Kill” (1985)
Everybody loves the 1980s now, right? I know I do! Random young people pay me big bucks to recount the way it was! My high school yearbook is worth thousands on the open market! All praise BIG HAIR! This was a #1 hit for Duran Duran, the only band that mattered! (To teenage girls!)