Bondathon: Ranking the theme tunes (20-16)

Following on from last week’s countdown from 25 to 21, which felt a little samey for the most part, I’m back with the next five songs in my countdown.

I think this shows a bit more variety, and has also made use of some of my critical faculties, rather than solely relying on personal taste; a couple of them are songs I do really enjoy, but had to look at them through the Bond theme lens to work out their value in this list.

20 – Another Way To Die from Quantum of Solace (Jack White & Alicia Keys)
Very much an outlier in the Bond song canon, as it’s the only duet to feature – and a rather unexpected one at that. It feels like it’s trying to keep the power of its predecessor from Casino Royale as well as look back to the classic Bond vocalists, and is just slightly odd as a result. I do really like the song, though, and would love it if a future film brought a new duo together.

19 – You Only Live Twice (Nancy Sinatra)
Beautiful string intro, very much in the Bond mould (even by that point in the franchise), and soothing vocals from Nancy Sinatra, but the fuzzy guitar really clashes with both of these aspects of the song. It’s a guitar sound that screams 60s – and something I enjoy on other songs – but it’s just too aggressive here.

18 – Writing’s On The Wall from Spectre (Sam Smith)
This is one that might have fared better had it been attached to a film that didn’t immediately follow Skyfall. It suffers in comparison, as it has a very similar sound & style – and also feels like it’s treading the same kind of ground lyrically. The soaring strings have been beautifully orchestrated, but I can’t place it any higher than this.

17 – Tomorrow Never Dies (Sheryl Crow)
Though this sticks with the formula of nabbing an artist while they’re at the height of their popularity, it does at least mark a departure from the typical, belty female vocalist type. That’s not to say Sheryl Crow can’t hold a note (because she really can), but the rock edge in her voice definitely brings something extra to this song.

16 – The Man With The Golden Gun (Lulu)
It feels a little out of place in the mid-70s, especially coming after Live and Let Die‘s rock & reggae fusion, but it’s a fun number nonetheless. I like the neatness of this second ‘gold’-based film having a theme song which refers back to the film quite a bit, rather than being more abstract or just drawing on generic themes (like some in 25-21…).

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