10. The World is Not Enough (Garbage): A moody song, well-sung and with a great use of strings, yet “The World is Not Enough” suffers because of those damn synthesized drums that are way too prominent in the mix. Replace those with something a little more natural and you’ve got a winner of a song that would fit right in with classic Bond themes.
(Aaron says: The World Is Not Enough” is similar to “Tomorrow Never Dies” in being a more gloomy, serious Bond anthem. But this time, instead of a lively pop singer, they actually had a gloomy, serious rock group play the song, and that is a marked improvement. I don’t know much about Garbage, but Shirley Manson’s voice fits this type of genre. The song also calls back to earlier Bond songs that just feel like they are “Bond songs” — I don’t believe it uses any direct music from the Bond theme or past soundtracks, but it carries the same mood.)
11. From Russia with Love (Matt Monro): The first actual song-song to become a James Bond theme is fairly middle-of-the-road and forgettable, but it’s not a bad song by any stretch of the imagination… and it is the first.
(Aaron says: We also get the first of the trademark title songs, this one a croony ballad from Matt Munro. The theme’s mostly forgettable, a very standard love song piggybacking Frank Sinatra. It doesn’t really fit in with the style of the film, but it isn’t as abhorrent as other songs we’ll hear during the series.)
12. Another Way to Die from Quantum of Solace (Jack White & Alicia Keys): In theory, this is a winning mixture of performers. In practice, the song ends up sounding weak. Both singers are either undermixed or are straining their voices to hit those notes (with Keys, I have to imagine it’s the former). This song is also seriously underproduced; when it comes to Bond themes, lavish textures usually win the day. Even in the song directly preceding this one, Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name,” guitar, bass and drums fill the void left by the usual Bond orchestra.
(Aaron says: As a fan of Jack White, I think his music fits well with a modern Bond film — it’s soulful, yet hip, and White’s talent allows him to adapt to a Bond-like theme. The duet with Alicia Keys even works pretty well, as it’s not the ballady sort of song I’m used to hearing from her. I don’t think “Another Way to Die” has as much fanfare as other Bond songs, but it’s among the best.)
13. You Only Live Twice (Nancy Sinatra): This is another relatively forgettable Bond entry that children of the ’90s might best remember as the song that gave Robbie Williams’ “Millenium” its string hook. Still, it’s well-sung, and it’s the first Bond theme to incorporate electric guitar prominently, which makes it an interesting step in the series’ musical evolution.
(Aaron says: Do you remember the Robbie Williams song “Millennium”? It took me a while to figure it out, but Nancy Sinatra’s title song has been linked to that with some clever sampling. All in all, the song isn’t bad, but it doesn’t feel like Bond. It’s sort of a sappier, more serene song than we’ve seen from the other titles.)
14. The Living Daylights (a-ha): Duran Duran’s unfortunate Bond-theme cousin, a-ha does not succeed like their new wave counterparts. This song’s got the right idea, but it’s marred by bad production that recalls Ace of Base and some really questionable singing decisions – note how the track switches from a David Bowie parody to a Fine Young Cannibals parody.
(Aaron says: Karaoke and music video favorite a-ha take on the title theme “The Living Daylights” — the second new-wavy track in a row. This song has a different style than the Duran Duran tune, and it sounds like another place the producers were trying to make a new beginning. The song is a little less poppy than “A View to a Kill” — a decent track, but a little all-over the place in its musical stylings. Hearing the song for the first time, I’m not incredibly surprised that a-ha became a one-hit wonder.)
15. Nobody Does it Better from The Spy Who Loved Me (Carly Simon): Sure, this is a shlocky ballad, but it gets a few bonus points for being the first Lite FM-style Bond song; at least it was a trailblazer. It also isn’t a totally awful song; it actually would be a pretty effective easy listening number, it just doesn’t work for Bond at all.
(Aaron says: Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better” is the musical equivalent of crying while masturbating. This is such a sappy, sappy song, but it also manages to feel like a self-congratulatory pat on the back for the Bond creators.)
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tags: james bond
My Best of 2012 Playlist by Eric Garneau
After being inspired by some friends, for the past few years I’ve been really into documenting my musical exploration with year-end mixes. I realize this is not a particularly novel thing to do, but hey, who has original ideas any more? Anyway, this has gotten even easier to do thanks to new technology like Spotify. read more