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Best Bond Theme

I recently got into a kick of listening to the James Bond themes, triggered by Billie Eilish releasing her latest version in advance of "No Time To Die". It got me to do some reassessment of my own previous rankings: some came down, some went up. In no particular order:

No Time To Die, Billie Eilish. I don't particularly see the appeal of this young wunderkind, but that's cool. I was particularly amused when I saw the description of the song as "James Bond ASMR." Perfect. However, her breathless, quiet voice is undeniably amazing pared with James Horner's orchestral score. I should hate this, but I find myself grudgingly admiring it, and wondering if, in the future, this becomes an all timer. I'll confidently put it in the lower end of the second tier of themes.

Writing's On The Wall, Sam Smith. I originally panned the hell out of this, thinking it sounded like a mashup of a musical number with a Bond theme. However, time has been kind to this tune; I find it much more resonant and true. I still think the movie it was designed for, Spectre, was a weak Bond entry, but I do like me some Daniel Craig-Bond. The song fit some of the film's moments well, and it adapted to an all-orchestral version in the movie quite well. I'd put it in the second tier of Bond theme songs.

Skyfall, Adele. A modern classic. Adele's rich, soaring voice, paired with the deliberate pace of this piece are a perfect match. Reminds me of Shirley Bassey's earlier iconic Bond themes, with a much more polished arc. Paired particularly well with the 2nd best Daniel Craig Bond outing. I have come to appreciate it more with time. Definitely top tier here, and, if pushed, I'd say moving up to the upper echelons.

Live And Let Die, Paul McCartney. Ok, let's just get this out of the way right now: this is the number one, the top of the heap, the one that all others are measured by. Perfect for it's time, ideal to introduce us to Roger Moore's first outing as Bond in the Bayou. Sir Paul is no stranger to working with rich symphonic accompaniment, and it shows. Unchanged ranking: the very top of Tier 1.

You Know My Name, Chris Cornell. I have a confession here: you know how there are some movies that if they are on and you come into a room, you have to watch them, no matter how many times you've seen them? I'm looking at you, Shawshank Redemption and GoodFellas. That's what I feel like with Chris Cornell's entry. I don't just love it; I find I go through periods where I find myself obsessed with it. The Soundgarden rawness, paired with the tight orchestral theme, just make this perfect to me. The fact that it sets the tone for Daniel Craig's first and best Bond film doesn't hurt either. Ranking unchanged, I'd put it squarely just behind Sir Paul's masterpiece, but I recognize that's a personal quirk, unlikely to be shared by most.

Die Another Day, Madonna. Surprisingly well produced, and light on the orchestra, for a Bond Theme. My original thought was it was utterly forgettable, but it's aged well, and surprisingly modern for the current pop scene, from the Queen of Pop. One of those forgettable Pierce Brosnan entries, that bordered on camp, at least it yielded a cameo from Madonna in the film that...almost worked. The song was in the bottom tier before, but it should come up a bit higher now.

Nobody Does It Better, Carly Simon. Originally, was up in tier 1 for it's iconic 70's vibe; perfect for one of the better Roger Moore films, The Spy Who Loved Me (where's my Lotus submarine???). But as time has moved on, I find myself being a little too syruply affected by this. Feels entirely too intimate, too pedestrian for a Bond song, compared to it's peers. I'd slip it to the bottom of tier 2 now.

For Your Eyes Only, Sheena Easton. Now this is what a Bond song aspires for: soaring vocals, mixed with beautiful symphony. Sheena Easton was a relative newcomer, and she never really became a superstar, but she had the looks of a Bond Woman(TM), which shouldn't have mattered but it did. You knew this was a Bond theme the first time you heard it. If anything, I appreciate it more, as it elevated an underwhelming Roger Moore entry. Bottom of Tier 1/Top of tier 2.

More to come...stay tuned.

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