1. View to a Kill (Duran Duran): There’s certainly some authorial bias going on here, but man, this is just a freaking awesome song. For starters, it’s one of the best tunes Duran Duran ever put to record. That makes it a perfect encapsulation of new wave, with its moody synths, danceable bass and, yes, an overabundance of the “orchestra hit” effect on whatever keyboard Nick Rhodes was playing. It’s also got attitude, something lots of Bond songs from this era lack. It’s probably the best example of a song that is excellent without needing to stand on the Bond franchise.
(Aaron says: Halfway through the title song I thought to myself “this band seems to be trying awful hard to sound like Duran Duran.” Turns out, “A View to a Kill” is actually sung by the new wave pop outfit. That would probably suggest that I wasn’t a huge fan of the song, but I wouldn’t go so far. I like the change from the typical ballad to a new-wave-esque rock track — it feels a little more like the Bond style and sets the table for an action film.)
2. Tomorrow Never Dies (Sheryl Crow): This song must suffer from being attached to a generally poorly regarded Bond film, because it’s really great. This is, in fact, the ultimate example of merging a retro Bond sound with modern sensibilities. Sheryl Crow sings the hell out of this track. As a bonus, the film Tomorrow Never Dies includes a second great song in the closing credits, k.d. lang’s “Surrender,” which was originally intended to be the film’s theme.
(Aaron says: If there is one thing you should know about me, it is that I hate Sheryl Crow. “Tomorrow Never Dies,” though, is a pretty interesting song — but why does Sheryl Crow have to sing it? The title track is gloomy and darker than the run of pop songs we’ve gotten, which feels more appropriate for the tone of the film. Even while I mostly dig the song, Sheryl Crow can’t seem to hit the correct notes during the chorus. I hate her so much.)
3. Skyfall (Adele): Close on Crow’s heels is Adele, whose Skyfall theme is pure perfection. There wasn’t a better choice out there to combine the classic Bond crooner style with a modern sheen. Also, this song manages to sneak in bits of the original Monty Norman James Bond theme, an always-welcome addition.
(Aaron says JUST FOR THIS POST: Over the series, the Bond theme songs that have been most fondly remembered are those that are able to capture the mood of the film/overall series, and (bonus points) incorporate the Bond theme into the musical arrangement. Adele’s “Skyfall” is perhaps the best example of using these ingredients. It’s not a perfect song in a vacuum — the lyrics are a bit ridiculous, especially post-chorus — but it builds throughout and is a wonderfully haunting tune, forging Adele’s sensibilities and the vision of the newest installments of the Bond franchise. And when the Bond theme kicks in, it is a truly surprising moment that we haven’t gotten much of with these songs.)
HONORABLE MENTION must go to Norman’s original James Bond theme, which provided the key music for Dr. No, the first film in the Bond series. What’s there to say about this piece? It’s iconic, it’s energetic, it’s great. It’s defined a series of films for 50 years with no signs of stopping.
(Aaron says: This is one of the only Bond film without a trademark title song. We do get the famous opening where we look through the scope of a gun at what I think is supposed to be Bond… although it’s not Sean Connery. The Bond theme does exist, however, and I think that is one of the most underrated film themes ever. From the horns to the guitar, it oozes cool — captures the tone of the films and the character perfectly. It also feels really modern, so to hear it in the 1962 film is pretty amazing.)
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