Mar 022013


This week’s Top 10 + 1 post is the best ever James Bond Opening Themes over the franchise’s history. I missed the live awards and had to watch online the next day to see Shirley Bassey and Adele singing their Bond songs at the Academy Awards and it was then that it brought back a flood of memories for me over the past 30 years.

The Top 10 + 1 is something new I wish very much to add to my website on a regular weekly basis. I will pick a category on any topic and how I list what is the Top 10 + 1 based on my personal preference. The + 1 indicates the one ranking that was close but didn’t make the cut to reach the Top 10. For this first post I spent a tremendous amount of time doing research on each. I give thanks to Wikipedia, IMDB, You Tube and numerous other links and user comments for obtaining as much as accuracy as possible.

The titles are hyperlinked to take you to their IMDB origin if you so choose. But the really special part of this post is I inserted (ok, Chris showed me how to do it thank gawd) a video of each one. That way you can click on each and listen to it as you read each brief synopnis. It’s amazing how much of the theme music I can hear still to this day that has me not only refelct back on the films but numerous periods in my life. I hope you like it!

+1  Didn’t Make The Cut –  GoldenEye  (1995) by Tina Turner

There are many people who feel that Tina Turner sings one of the best theme songs in Bond history written by Bono and the Edge. This became an immediate classic after a very dark period when the Bond franchise desperately needed a reboot of their best known spy. Pierce Brosnan fit the role perfectly at the time in a movie that right from the start had a spine-tingling bungee jump off a dam and then a terrifying free fall in a plane that Bond flies to avert from disaster. Tina Turner’s steamy, seductive singing as a backdrop to the appearance of apparently naked female dancers was intoxicating. They continue to destruct statues of Russia’s Lenin and Stalin as a portend of what we were about to watch.

 10) Dr. No (1962) by Monty Norman and John Barry.  

Composers Monty Norman and John Barry collaborated to give us the very first ever listen to the James Bond Theme. We see the classic view through a gun barrel of a mysterious man in a hat firing a shot back at the gun barrel. A view we would come to know for decades with the Bond franchise. It’s amazing to go back and look at it’s simplicity of flashing neon orbs as the actors and actresses names are displayed. And one name comes up, Ursula Andress, that we could not fathom at the time of the things that would become with the huge popularity of the Bond women. The mysterious spy music makes way to an African-esque drum beat of colored, silhouetted dancers and then ends with three men walking single file to some reggae music. Does this mean we will be taken on a journey around the globe? Oh yes, we will.

9) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) music but no lyrics by John Barry  

There was quite a bit of trivia to come out of this 6th film in the series for Bond aficionados. This was the first Bond film to deviate from the tradition of using lyrics in the opening theme song. John Barry composed, arranged and conducted the instrumental only music for this opening song. He also composed the love song “We Have All the Time in the World” sung by Louis Armstrong. It became Armstrong’s last ever recorded song as he died of a heart attack two years later. There was never much impact from the song until years later it became very well-known in a Guinness advertising campaign. It’s considered one of the finest songs in Barry’s franchise. This was the Bond debut for George Lazenby and it ended up being his quick demise in that he was no Sean Connery. We start off with his classic line, “This never happened to the other fellow.” There are lots of blue and purple hues as we see the British flag. Who is this Telly Savalas person we see a credit for? And then the promise of more hot babes, a possible villain and car chases. You tried your best George but it was not your calling.

8) Goldfinger (1964) by Shirley Bassey 

This was another is a series of classics composed by John Barry and written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse.  Shirley Bassey got our attention with her powerful, dramatic voice as our hero’s face appears. Obviously as he was melting the hearts and bringing sighs of delight from every female in the theater audience. All of the characters and images are uniquely put in a gold tint throughout. The album reached No 1 on the Billboard 200 and spent a total of 70 weeks on the chart. It was wonderful that Bassey was able to revive this at the 2013 Academy Awards.

7) Die Another Day (2002)  by Madonna   

This remains easily the most controversial of all the Bond themes to date. Composed by David Arnold and written and sung by Madonna (who also had a awesome cameo) who had a steamy video version of this song also. Many fans felt her song and the Clash’s “London Calling” (a favorite song of mine in general, by the way) were inappropriate matches for the Bond tradition. I did not share in any of such controversy as I enjoyed the upbeat pop music. The opening theme also takes us right into the beginning of the film’s storyline which was new. Hundreds of creepy black scorpions are crawling on the floor of a dark room making us cringe. Lordy, that will give me bad dreams. We see the head of our hero (played by Pierce Brosnan) being submerged into ice water as he is obviously struggling. As the spicy theme song continues we see a woman engulfed in flames having Bond restrained in shackles with his arms strung up above his head. Beautiful, sexy dancing females are shown in both an electricity ridden format and also in flames. As the credits wind down things appear very grim for James.

6) Skyfall (2012) by Adele

Composed by Thomas Newman and written and sang by Adele who won the 2013 Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Song. We see our hero Bond (played by Daniel Craig) descending deep into water without resistance. The beautiful, haunting music continues to take us on a journey of an underwater graveyard. Then everything turns to red and it ominously looks like the gates of Hell. There are evil Chinese dragons slithering through the water that gives you an extra pause to wonder. He shot at himself several times in adjoining mirrors bringing on an ominous feeling of could this be the end?

5) Octopussy (1983) by Rita Coolidge with “All Time High”

This was difficult to find an original of this so I had to use a compilation. You can forward to the 5 minute, 23 second mark to start Octopussy.

Composed by John Barry, written by Tim Rice and sung by Rita Coolidge. Obviously Rita Coolidge’s “All Time High” was just that for me back at that time. Lots of laser lighting in a really dark format running over a woman’s body that begins with a 007 and switches to the outline of an octopus. Women appearing to be jumping and spinning off of a trampoline in a some sort of psychedelic worm hole. Maud Adam’s character is the beautiful, intoxicating “Octpussy”. This was one of the five musical themes or songs that are not named after film’s title, the others being “Nobody Does It Better” from The Spy Who Loved Me (Although the film’s title is referred to in the song’s lyrics); “We Have All The Time In The World” from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969); “You Know My Name” from Casino Royale (2006); and “Another Way to Die” from Quantum of Solace (2008). Cool trivia, huh?

4) View To A Kill (1985)  by Duran, Duran

Composed and written in a collaboration by John Barry and Duran, Duran who sang the song.  The exciting upbeat music begins showing a woman outlined in black light with fluorescent red nails. This spills over into seeing more women with the same lighting, wearing seductive long eyelashes with fluorescent red lipstick. I will always remember seeing the names Tawnya Roberts, Grace Jones and Christopher Walken flashing across the screen and getting goose bumps thinking to myself, “This should be good.”  The segway moves of lighting transfers over to numerous brief shots of women silhouetted and snow skiing. Again, a foreshadowing of what we will see at some point and time or many times over the next two hours on the screen. Duran, Duran and Barry were nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.  It’s a song I love listening to still to this day and my brain has attached it forever to this movie. The title song from A View to a Kill is the only Bond theme to hit #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

3) Live And Let Die  (1973) by Paul McCartney and Wings

Composed by Paul and Linda McCartney and sung by McCartney and Wings. This was the first Bond film not to involve John Barry. It was the first time rock music was used to open a Bond film. Ironically there were absolutely horrible theatrics in the theme opener as it inspired mostly a yawn. It opens with a woman in dark back lighting and flames, pointing a gun. Then one woman who’s eyes grow really big and becomes a skull in flames. There are suggestions of voodoo, witchcraft and zombies. A young 22-year-old girl by the name of Jane Seymour was just coming onto the acting scene. To this day she is one of my fav all time celebrity crushes. The song hit No 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

2) For Your Eyes Only (1981) by Sheena Easton

Composed by Bill Conti, written by Michael Leeson and sung by Sheena Easton. For Your Eyes Only marked the only time the singer of the theme song appeared in the opening sequence. There are lots of pretty dancers and swimmers silhouetted along with Bond in a posture to fire his Walther PPK. We see the beautiful Ms Easton being framed in numerous shots as she sings her intoxicating love ballad. Of all the love songs in the Bond franchise this was easily my favorite of all time. “For Your Eyes Only” reached #4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Song.

1) The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)  by Carly Simon with “Nobody Does It Better”   

Composed by Marvin Hamlisch, written by Carole Bayer Sager and sung by Carly Simon. This video starts off at the end of long chase scene on skis where James Bond (played by Roger Moore) jumps off a cliff, the skis come off his boots and his parachute opens up a full canopy revealing the Union Jack. It is still to this day one of the most bad ass opening segments ever in the Bond franchise. Also it is possibly one of the best segways ever into a Bond opening theme along with the lyrics being the best description the character, James Bond. This is the debut film for the terrifying henchman, Jaws (played by Richard Kiel). “Nobody Does it Better” reached #2 on US Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for Academy Award for Best Original Song. It remains to this day as one of my all time favorite songs.

It epitomizes that nobody does it better. There are two people that I will forever reflect on when I hear this. Soon after his death there was an awesome film compilation done on an NFL player named Walter Payton set to this very song. I will always remember that and you can watch it here. The second, and most important, is it always reminds me of my Uncle Glen who, 30 years ago, changed my life for the better…forever.

So, what was your favorite James Bond Opening Theme?

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Mike Vogler

I have been told (many times) that I really need to write a book about my life. The past 40+ years have been an exciting ride, and these days I find myself with a great many passions. However, I feel that this website is a much more personal way with which to share my musings, stories, commentary, and (of course) my greatest love... my Golden Retriever, Phoenix.

  14 Responses to “My Top 10 + 1 James Bond Opening Themes”

  1. This is great, James Bond is one of my favorite series and it’s amazing that it has lasted so long. The information you give on each song is detailed and very well researched. I was very impressed. I didn’t know a lot of the facts you give and made the songs more interesting. I greatly enjoyed your list and it took me down memory lane as I remembered watching each movie. The themes to James Bond are almost a musical category to themselves and have been very successfull for their composer and artist. Thanks for this and your hard work.

    • Pete, it is one of my favorite series too! I will be putting up lots of different Top 10 +1’s but I will definitely revisit James Bond from many different angles. I didn’t know a lot of the facts until I researched them either! Isn’t it amazing the memories that films give us? Whether it’s within the film itself or our real life. Thank you so much for your awesome words 🙂

  2. I really enjoyed watching these opening themes. I have never really watched any Bond movies. This wont shock those who know me because you can ask me if I have seen just about any movie and I probably havent.

    The first song that came to me when I read this topic was For Your Eyes Only. That was the song that I incorporate with James bond. I thought this would be my favorite Bond song. Did not know that View To A Kill was a Bond song. Another great song. But my favorite…Live And Let Die! I agree with Pete, lots of research and fun facts in this post!

    Also thought a few of these scenes in the clips were really cool. Like on Octopussy when the gun goes off and the red cloud comes out with the woman in the background. Or on Live And Let Die when she unzips her shirt and the 007 symbol is revealed. In, The Spy Who Loved Me when the girl is doing flips and twirls off the gun barrel, very neat idea. All really cool stuff. And I would swear if I didnt know better that Beyonce was coming in at the 2:17 mark on Live And Let Die! It was really neat for me to go back and check these out and I actually want to go and see these movies in their entirety and some point!

    I have seen clips of these movie but I dont think Ive ever seen one from start to finish. My Bond of chioce would be Roger Moore. I know, a lot or groans probably as Sean Connery seems to be the favorite but beings how Ive only seen bit and pieces of these movies, he has been the only Bond I have really seen. Also, Jaws was one of my favorite bad guys even though he used to scare the crap out of me when I was little!

    Love this piece mostly for the memories it brought back. At the time when I saw these movies I was living with my Uncle and Aunt while my mom was still growing up. It takes me back to the condo we lived in on Dickerson Rd. My Uncles big body 46 inch tv. One of the first tvs I had ever seen with a remote control. And I recall For Your Eyes Only theme song playing loud and catching my attention. An of course the many memories from that period of time in my life and the people I am thankful for.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

    • One of my best friends in the world, Tony. BEST…COMMENT…EVER!!! Well, aside from the one on I Believe In Santa Claus 🙂 Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to read everything I wrote in this post. You rock more than you can possibly ever know 🙂

  3. I thought the Skyfall theme/intro song was fantastic. Also, I have to admit, this post has made decide to watch ALL the movies from start to finish. Thanks Mike!

    • I’m telling ya bud they are addictive. It’s easily the best movie franchise EVER. There isn’t even a close second. It’s awesome to see the birth of a “baby” to see a full on evolved “adult” 40 years later.

  4. I like #4 and #2. I’ve always been a fan of Duran Duran.

  5. Thanks to my dad I know all of those. It’s funny Mike, as I was reading this I found myself humming the songs, LOL! Thanks for the flashback!!!

    • After reading this you had me humming too to the theme music!! That’s awesome on your Dad. Thank you for sharing that, Anne!

  6. Did anyone also notice that the top five songs were to the movies Roger Moore stared in? He seems to have gotten all the good music. I am loving Adele’s Skyfall. Glad she got an Oscar for that. Her voice is perfect!

    • Ya know what….I didn’t even realize that on Roger Moore until you mentioned it. Duh on me. Good catch, Jenn! Agreed on Adele….she is amazing!

  7. Goldfinger was the first I remember as a kid. My dad bought the album and I’d play it as loud as our stereo could when the house was empty.

    Skyfall is probably the best ever, but Live and Let Die was pretty cool for the time being done by McCartney. Duran Duran oh yeah. Tom Jones even did one, Thunderball, but it wasn’t that good, sad to say.

    My all time favorite though, was a couple from 1967 Casino Royale, the James Bond perody. Burt Bakarat did a couple songs that I still enjoy, but mostly his “The Look of Love”.

    • Oh my gosh I loved your Memory Lane comment here post. My bio mom’s fav alltime song was Burt Bacharach’s ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’. Good memory playback there, thanks Hugh! 🙂

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