The James Bond Title Songs Never Say Die

Lulu poses with the golden gun from 'The Man with the Golden Gun'

Surely you didn't forget that Lulu sang a Bond title song? "The Man with the Golden Gun." Evening Standard/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Evening Standard/Getty Images
Daniel Craig holds a gun with a silencer that looks huge from the camera angle.

Bond -- now played by Daniel Craig -- is often disarming, but rarely disarmed. His title songs aren't quite as consistent. MGM/Columbia Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption MGM/Columbia Pictures

Theaters around the country await the latest addition to the James Bond collection: a new version of Casino Royale.

It's being promoted as all new — a new Bond (Daniel Craig), a new angle, new stunts, new "Bond girls." Yet in one way this new James Bond film will also prepetuate a much older Hollywood tradition: The theme song.

And we're not just talking about the familiar, driving James Bond theme. More than 20 times, Bond films have opened with an original song under the title credits — something that used to be a Hollywood staple and is now a rarity.

Featured performers have ranged from Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones to Duran Duran and Madonna (and don't forget Sheena Easton, Sir Paul McCartney and Wings, Carly Simon and Sheryl Crow).

Movie-music maven Trudeau — Andy Trudeau — and Andrea Seabrook discuss the history of a highly specific genre.

Trudeau has even broken the songs down into three handy categories:

Story Songs (such as Shirley Bassey's wonderful version of "Goldfinger"); Bond Songs (including Nancy Sinatra's "You Only Live Twice"); and Nonsense Songs (A-ha's "The Living Daylights" makes that list.)

How Well Do You Know Your Bond Title Songs?

Bonus Quiz

Six sets of eyes of James Bond stars.

Six sets of eyes of James Bond stars. Can you name them? Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Getty Images

When is a James Bond score not a James Bond score? Careful listeners to the corresponding audio piece will notice that I mentioned that the new Chris Cornell song is the 18th Bond title song. Now, I consider the core canon of James Bond films to number 21, counting the newest. But a search of various databases will turn up at least 23. Why the difference? The 21 I'm counting as the core canon are those produced by Broccoli/Saltzman, later just the Broccoli family (all of which I'll just refer to as EON Productions). I have nothing against the two non-EON films (1967's Casino Royale and 1983's Never Say Never Again), but I can never truly enjoy their scores because neither was allowed to use the famous "James Bond theme", whose use is controlled by EON. So all references that follow come from the core canon, following the rule of thumb: "If you hear the James Bond theme, it counts."

Quiz Time!

Ready to earn your license to thrill? (Or at least amuse or annoy your friends?) Answer these five questions:

1. Which singer has contributed to the most James Bond title songs?

A. Anthony Newley

B. Shirley Bassey

C. Madonna

2. Which lyricist has written the lyrics to the most James Bond title songs?

A. Leslie Bricusse

B. Tim Rice

C. Don Black

3. Not counting the new Casino Royale, the name of which James Bond film is NOT part of the title song lyrics?

A. The World Is Not Enough

B. Octopussy

C. The Spy Who Loved Me

4. The lyrics of which James Bond main title song take the longest (word count only) to reach the film title?

A. Tomorrow Never Dies

B. The Spy Who Loved Me

C. The Living Daylights

5. How many James Bond main title songs begin with the name of the film?

A. 2

B. 5

C. 4

READ THE ANSWERS

Web Resources

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Best of Bond...James Bond: 40th Anniversary Edition

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Best of Bond...James Bond: 40th Anniversary Edition
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The Best of James Bond: 30th Anniversary

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The Best of James Bond: 30th Anniversary
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Released
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