Ranking The Bond Theme Songs Blogger Drew Kerr talks about his critique of the many title songs accompanying James Bond movies. He's ranked all 20 of them from best to worst and talks about his selections and criteria here.
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Ranking The Bond Theme Songs

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Ranking The Bond Theme Songs


Music Reviews

Ranking The Bond Theme Songs

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The new James Bond movie, "Quantum of Solace," opens today. We're going to dispense with a review, but here is a bit of the theme song, a duet with Alicia Keys and Jack White called "Another Way to Die."


BLOCK: (Singing) A man on your side or someone that you think that you can trust is just another way to die...

BLOCK: OK, Drew Kerr, can you give me your review in maybe five words or less?

DREW KERR: Won't break bad-song streak.



BLOCK: Well, we should explain that Drew Kerr works in public relations by day; his alter ego on the web is as Total Music Geek, and he's taken upon himself to rate the James Bond theme songs. And why don't we go ahead and start with the one that you called the worst at number 20, the honors go to...


MADONNA: (Singing) It's die another day...

KERR: Madonna with "Die Another Day."

BLOCK: This is from 2002.

KERR: Exactly.

BLOCK: And why is it so bad, do you think?

KERR: It's just such a mishmash of telephone-like vocals and these jagged samples, and it's just a bad song.

BLOCK: What are your criteria for what would make a classic Bond song? What are the elements?

KERR: Well, to me, it has to be seductive and have sort of a spyish sound - usually, that minor key and horn staffs.

BLOCK: OK, we're going to skip over most of the other ones that you find falling far short of the mark, but I just have to say, by your ranking Tina Turner was robbed.


BLOCK: (Singing) Goldeneye, I found his weakness...

BLOCK: Hawking in at number 12 with "Goldeneye," which I think is a great song.

KERR: It is a very good song.


BLOCK: But only number 12.

KERR: Well, everything's relative. I mean, 12 is actually pretty good on this list.

BLOCK: OK, we're going to vault up to your top four. Here's number four. Get ready for it.

KERR: I'm ready.


BLOCK: (Singing) They call him the winner who takes all

KERR: Ladies and gentlemen, this is Tom Jones.

BLOCK: Nineteen sixty-five, "Thunderball."

KERR: Talk about the epitome of macho. I mean, Tom Jones had this amazing voice, and if anybody ever doubted, you know, what goes on in that man's lungs, just listen to the end of the song when he just brings up that word, thunderball, and extends it for what seems like an eternity.


BLOCK: (Singing) So he strikes like Thunderball...

KERR: I don't know, I don't know if the man was born with three lungs, but boy, he really held in - what a voice, what a voice.

BLOCK: OK, Drew, a surprise for me at number three, the theme song from "The Living Daylights," 1987. This is Aha.


BLOCK: OK, what brings this one to the top of the pack here?

KERR: The one thing that I think is worth mentioning is that - the wonderful thing about this song is it was a true collaboration between this synch pop group, Aha - very talented - and John Barry. And so you've got this very dark, wonderfully Euro-pop sound, and the John Barry aspects kind of put in there with those big horn hits. And it just sounds like a wonderful blend. And it's just a great, exciting, very melodic song.

BLOCK: OK, on to number two, 1964.


SHIRLEY BASSEY: (Singing) Goldfinger. He's the man, the man with the Midas touch...

KERR: Well, this is Shirley Bassey's first of three James Bond songs that she sang and certainly the blueprint for what would be a James Bond song, really the flagship.

BLOCK: Well, which brings us to your number one, all-time James Bond song.


NANCY SINATRA: (Singing)You only live twice...

BLOCK: It's the one and only Nancy Sinatra, from 1967.

KERR: The reason I like it is - obviously fitting all the usual Bond criteria. It also had that sort of existential thing that a lot of Bond movies had. I don't know, there's something very emotional and cutting about that song.

BLOCK: Well, you say that the sort of dark days of the Bond theme songs sit in what, at the end of the 1980s? And that's all - it's just been downhill pretty much ever since. Why? What are they missing, do you think?

KERR: I think it's very hard to write a hit song. There are very clear gambles being made by getting certain names like Madonna and folks like that, and they kind of want to do their own thing, and maybe not respect what's been done before. But it's just very, very hard. It's tough.

BLOCK: If it weren't tough, we'd all be doing it.

KERR: Exactly. We'd all be writing James Bond songs.

BLOCK: Well, Drew Kerr, good to talk to you. Thanks very much.

KERR: Same here, Melissa.

BLOCK: Drew Kerr, also known as Total Music Geek. You can find his rankings of the James Bond title theme songs at npr.org.

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