Ned. Ned. Ned. Ned. Ned. While I thoroughly enjoyed, and indeed, agreed with, your perspective on the Bond posters of recent years (hand-painted better than photography...mmmyess, mmmyess) I'm afraid I must quibble, Sir, quibble with, your point about the Bond themes "sucking." From "day one." While there may have been low points (Never Say Never Again, Die Another Day), the ability of Bond themes to evoke the fullest plumage of my British "emotions" over the years has been unrivaled, and instead of simply walking into your office to tell you so, I've decided to repudiate your point by
challenging you to a duel posting my top 11 Bond themes of all time for our readers' benefit. I tried to make it a top 10, but sadly, there are simply 11 top Bond themes. And no man, woman, child, whippet or other beast should challenge the order, because mine is right.
Reader(s), I'm Sorry. It is press day. And doubtless, people are starving under bridges. Having turned in my copy I should now really be devoting my energies to getting the police bureau to tell me how many people they have Tasered over the last two years. But frankly, emailing back and forth with Brian Schmautz has been bringing us both down. So: The top 11 bond themes. Presented by Matt Davis. In strict order of merit from 11 to 1. Which did not "suck from day one." Apologies for this second, and wholly unnecessary, introductory paragraph, but as I mentioned, it's Ned's fault.
Number 11. Rita Coolidge, An All Time High [Theme from Octopussy, 1983].
Who IS Rita Coolidge, I wonder? Which is why this song only makes it in at number 11. Roger Moore may have acted in this movie, as usual, like a clothes horse, but the Russian lady was hot. And there's the upside-down-on-the plane scene. And the knife-throwing twins. I like this song for its saxophone intro, its romantic, chocolate box feel, and the steady drum beat accompanied by strings when the chorus hits.
Not to mention the lyrics, Ned!
All she wanted was a sweet distraction for an hour or two, Ned. She had no intention to do the things we've done. Funny how it always goes in love when you don't look, you find. But then we're two of a kind. We move as one. We're an all time high...[drum beat, strings] We'll change all that's gone before. Doing so much more. Than falling in love. On an all time high. We'll take on the world and win. So hold on tight, let the flight...begin.
You cannot top that for an eleventh entry in any would-be top 10 chart. There is just no way.
Number 10. Sheena Easton, For Your Eyes Only .
It was the dawn of a new decade, Ned. People were nervous, they were scared. Reagan. Star Wars. All that shit was about to go down. Gorbachev. Charlie Sheen in Wall Street. You get me. So they needed something ethereal and reassuring. They needed something misty to begin with, something soft, some synth...some puffy breathing sounds in the background...and then, Sheena Easton's voice cutting through it all like electric fire, like, like hot, hot, icy lightning:
Lyrical bonus: Easton manages to change the spy term "For Your Eyes Only" into something kinkier, almost profane!
You can see so much in me, Ned. So much in me that's new (Electric Piano, clanging chords...clanging chords) I never felt till I looked at youuuu. For your eyes only...only for you...you see what no one else can see, now I'm breaking free for your eyes only!
Note to Ned: If this is making you uncomfortable, I'll stop. I just want to be sure you understand how much these themes do NOT suck. While it's true that quoting the Bond lyrics and placing your name in their context could be seen, in some circles, as sexual harassment, I hope you realize, it's not harassment. It's MAKING A POINT. There's almost definitely legal precedent for this. Know it.
Number 9. Chris Cornell, You Know My Name .
Enough of this soft shit. What do you do when your franchise has been all but fucked by Pierce Brosnan? When even though he was pretty good in The Thomas Crown Affair, he just couldn't carry through, even with Halle Berry? You employ the hottest actor on the planet to play Bond like a badass. That's what you do. And then you make the theme really scary. And you get that guy from Soundgarden to sing a chorus with the lyric "the coldest blood runs through my veins. You know my name." Boo-yah! Ned! How, in any possible conceivable sense, can this song suck?! Answer: It cannot.
Number 8. Gladys Knight, License to Kill .
Stick with me, here. Gladys Knight's effort may have been let down by Timothy Dalton's brilliant acting (he wasn't playing Bond, he was playing some angry bloke with a gun...that's the problem with Dalton...good actor, bad Bond, nobody gets it...arguing this point is futile, but I continue to press it...). But whatever. You cannot ignore those drums, or the drop before the chorus. BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM, they go. Like PHIL COLLINS, mate. And when she's singing "keeee-iiiiilllll" at the end, you believe it. She's ACTING, Ned. She's singing and acting at the same time. It's some of the most glorious multi-tasking that's ever taken place in the universe. Suckage factor? ZERO.
Number 7. Shirley Bassey, Goldfinger .
I think it's because she's Welsh, Ned. But there's something about the way Shirley Bassey makes seven syllables out of one syllable, it's just chilling. "Gha-old Fee-ing-errr." As in: "It's the kiss of death...from Mr.gha-old fee-ing-err..."
Next time you're talking, Ned, try making each syllable into two. Try it and then tell me this theme "su-ucks." Because you'd sound ridiculous. Either way. Even if you couldn't pull it off. Even if you just said it "sucks." Ridiculous.
Number 6. Tom Jones Thunderball .
Okay. So insulting this one is like sleeping with my sister. I don't have a sister, but it's like, you just don't do that, Ned. You know? More Welshness in the form of Tom Jones. I don't get it with the Brocollis and the Welsh. But that's beside the point. Ever heard a voice so honeyed and heaping, Ned? Me either. His days of asking are all gone, Ned. Yet his fight goes on and on and ooooo-nnnnnnnnn:
"He always runs while others walk. He acts while other men just talk. He looks at this world and wants it all, Ned. So he strikes like Thunderball. Ned."
[shudders...realizes no words can do such a verse justice...is reverently silent, unlike Ned when he sounds off, half-cocked, about the merits of various Bond themes...]
Number 5. Paul McCartney Live and Let Die .
Yes, the script of the film played on uncomfortable racial stereotypes. But this remains the only good thing Paul McCartney has ever done. Plus, Roger Moore proved he's not a racist by sleeping with Grace Jones in A View To A Kill. And this song almost makes up for Rockey Raccoon. Therefore, it's seminal:
Number 4. Shirley Bassey Diamonds Are Forever .
Watching these titles in a dark room is the closest a human being can come to actually snorting cocaine without actually snorting cocaine, Ned. Bassey's at it again. She's being "stimulated" and "teased" by diamonds. Ned. DIAMONDS NEVER LIE TO HER, Ned. FOR WHEN LOVE'S GONE THEY LUSTER ON! And she's at it again with the "fore--eee-vvvv-eeerrrrrrr" syllable extensions. If I had to conjure the opposite of "sucking from day one," I mean, if someone asked me to come up with the exact, bona-fide polar opposite of something doing that, I would probably say, "this:"
Number 3. Duran Duran A View To A Kill .
Christopher. Walken. Duran. Duran. Neon. Fingernails. Dance into the fire, Ned. That fatal kiss is all we need! It's the 1980s. It's hedonism! It's ALL RIGHT FUCKING THERE IN THE SONG!
[is beating his head against the desk, now].
Number 2. Carly Simon Nobody Does It Better [Theme from The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977].
Is it possible for a Bond theme to make a man cry, Ned? No no...save your answer. I think you'll find it IS:
And drum roll please. Aside from the kickass acoustic guitar chords and the velvet glove in the opening seconds, and the fact that it's sung by motherfucking A-Ha, dude, there is nothing more to say about our top choice of choicest Bond themes, other than to note who wrote it. This one may take a while to load, but that's because every megabyte is dripping with the sweet, sweet, and holy, nectar of life...
Number 1. A-Ha The Living Daylights .
Hey drive, where we going?
I swear my nerves are showing.
Set my hopes up way too high.
The living's in the way we die.
(William Shakespeare, 1987.)