I’ll admit, I’m a little late to the James Bond party. But I’m sure if I had been writing for WhatCulture back in November 2012 I would have jumped in with an article on the most inventive villains, the best one liners or the most shocking moments in the Bond franchise (Its Tracy’s death at the end of Her Majesty’s Secret Service by the way).
Eight months on, Bond fever is still here. The franchise was reborn with style with Casino Royale in 2006. But with the success of last year’s Skyfall, Bond mania exploded and I’m still reading articles over who is going to be the next Bond girl or the merry go round of directors (current plans suggest Sam Mendes WILL be back to direct Bond 24).
So with that in mind, I thought I’d jump in with my thoughts on an essential part of any Bond film…the song…
…Only with a twist. Everyone has their favourite numbers so here I’m going to look at those great songs that sound like Bond songs, feel like Bond songs but aren’t actually Bond songs. Those songs you listen to and think ‘this was made to accompany a Bond film’. And I’m not talking about remakes of existing Bond songs such as the Propeller heads version of the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service or the excellent rock version of Live And Let Die by Guns’N’Roses (which is BETTER than the great Paul McCartney and the Wings version…there…I said it!)
Bond songs can be camp…it’s genetically acceptable for me as a straight man to listen to Tina Turner or Shirley Bassey if it’s a Bond song! The vocals must be epic and haunting. The orchestral accompaniment has to be dramatic. The lyrics have to be thickly laid in metaphor that works because the artist is singing about the many facets of Bond’s character. It has to work against images of scantily clad women, guns, explosions and silhouetted images or a provocative nature.
And while every Bond song is different, they all have that same ‘thing’ that makes them identifiable as a Bond song. The songs on my list hit that ‘thing’ too.
It’s a wide and varied list and I’m sure not to everyone’s taste…though I’m fairly certain you’ll find it hard to argue with my number one choice…but that’s what your comments for.
And before I move to 007 on my list, here are three honourable mentions for your consideration…
- Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, with its killer guitar riffs and ‘Bond theme song’-style lyrics.
- Foo Fighters, The Pretender with its thundering epic instrumentals and rock tones that would fit brilliantly in the modern Bond era
- Grace Jones’ Storm from that other Avengers Movie in 1998; a camp ‘Shirley Bassey’ Bondy extravaganza (compete with the spoken sections that add that odd Grace Jones twist)
Any of the above would be deserving of being a non-Bond Bond song, but for me there are seven classics songs that could fill the catalogue of Bassey, Ah Ha, Easton or Garbage (the artists behind the excellent The World Is Not Enough…not the singer that followed them).
This article was first posted on June 19, 2013