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Top 10 James Bond Theme Songs - Page 2

#5. "Nobody Does It Better" by Carly Simon (from The Spy Who Loved Me)

Am I the only one endlessly amused by the fact that Carly Simon's two biggest hits are "You're So Vain" and "Nobody Does It Better"? One song is about how full of himself some man is, and the other is about how this one man is the greatest person to ever exist. Anyway, I digress. If James Bond has his own tagline, it would be "Nobody does it better," which is a testament to the staying power of this song. It's got great piano work, an earworm of a chorus, and Carly demonstrating her impressive vocal range. It also feels both epic and playful--almost sarcastically heartfelt--with a big dose of sexual innuendo, which is really close to everything Roger Moore brought to James Bond.

#4. "Skyfall" by Adele

The only Bond theme to win an Academy Award, Adele's "Skyfall" is a moody piece that manages to capture the emotional essence of not just Skyfall but the entire Daniel Craig era of Bond. Paradoxically, it also feels like an homage to other themes from Bonds past, most notably those sung by Shirley Bassey. Forgive the heresy, but I happen to think Adele has a better voice, along with a better range. She's not quite as versatile as Bassey, but her Bond theme is more exceptional than some of Bassey's more somber works (like "Moonraker").

#3. "A View to a Kill" by Duran Duran

I may have been born in the seventies, but I consider myself a child of the eighties. As such, I have an extraordinary fondness for Duran Duran, one of the most eighties-esque eighties bands in existence. Perhaps I am biased, therefore, when I consider where "A View to a Kill" should be placed on this list. If it were a list of my favorites (instead of what I consider to be the best), it would be number one by a mile. The pounding snare and dramatic orchestra hits--coupled with Simon Le Bon's smooth, sultry-but-sticatto voice that pleads with anguish and desire--is the most James Bond sound imaginable. "A View to a Kill" is the only Bond theme to place first on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, which is why it clearly deserves to be higher than "Skyfall" and many other great songs on this list. Unfortunately, it's not the most instantly recognizable song in the Bond pantheon, so I have to concede that there are at least two more to go.

#2. "Goldfinger" by Shirley Bassey

In the interests of full disclosure, let me just say I hate this song, with every fiber of my being. I think the lyrics are simple-minded, the blaring horns are cacophonous, and Shirley Bassey's overly enthusiastic voice sounds more like exuberant whining than singing. However, even I can't deny how iconic this song is and how archetypal it has become as a James Bond theme. It's got a great hook, is done in a daring minor key, and perfectly matches the style of the movie it's going on about. Begrudgingly, I place it very high on this list, but I just can't call it the best James Bond theme song.

#1. "Live and Let Die" by Paul McCartney and Wings

Putting anything other than this song at the top of the list would be a crime of the highest order. It is easily the most well-known theme, as well as the most experimental. It was the first to be true rock and roll, and the first to be nominated for an Academy Award. Performed by the band Wings, it remains one of their best selling singles, even though it doesn't appear on any Wings albums that aren't compilations. The most interesting thing about it, though, is that Harry Saltzman, one of the film's producers, liked the song but didn't like Paul McCartney's version of it. He thus wanted to use someone else (Brenda Arnau, who does sing her version in the actual film), but was forced to relent when McCartney would only release the song under the stipulation that his version be in the opening credits sequence.

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-e. magill 1/21/2016

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