Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 17:38 UK

Bond's greatest hits - and misses

By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Another Way to Die, the theme tune for the latest James Bond film Quantum of Solace, has just been unveiled.

Sung by Jack White of the White Stripes with Alicia Keys, it is the first duet ever recorded for the long-running movie franchise.

Dame Shirley Bassey, Duran Duran, Lulu and Madonna are just some of the acts to have performed 007 themes in the past.

Here's a purely personal run-down of the best tracks to feature in the Bond series - and the worst.


Carly Simon
5) 'Nobody Does It Better', Carly Simon

Film: The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977

Highest UK chart position: 7

Sample lyric: "Like heaven above me, the spy who loved me, is keeping all my secrets safe tonight..."

Lyricist Carole Bayer Sager deserves extra plaudits for sneaking the title of Roger Moore's third Bond film into Marvin Hamlisch's lush and elegant composition.

The song was recently performed by Sophie Ellis Bextor at London's Olympic handover party on 24 August.

Shirley Bassey
4) 'Diamonds are Forever', Shirley Bassey

Film: Diamonds are Forever, 1971

Highest UK chart position: 38

Sample lyric: "Diamonds are forever, hold one up and then caress it. Touch it, stroke it and undress it..."

John Barry and Don Black's tune may have been considered too near the knuckle by producer Harry Saltzman, but it still won the duo an Ivor Novello songwriting award.

One of Black's proudest moments was being told by director Steven Spielberg how highly he rated the track.

Paul McCartney
3) 'Live and Let Die', Paul McCartney and Wings

Film: Live and Let Die, 1973

Highest UK chart position: 9

Sample lyric: "If this ever-changing world in which we live in makes you give in and cry, say live and let die..."

A dynamic masterclass in pulse-quickening rock, courtesy of Beatles producer George Martin.

Subsequently covered by Guns N' Roses, it was the first James Bond theme to be nominated for the best original song Oscar.

Louis Armstrong
2) 'We Have All the Time in the World', Louis Armstrong

Film: On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1969

Highest UK chart position: 3

Sample lyric: "Every step of the way will find us, with the cares of the world far behind us..."

Written by John Barry for George Lazenby's solitary outing as Bond, this poignant ballad was one of Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong's final recordings.

The track - which only charted in the UK after being used in a 1994 beer commercial - is not played over the opening credits, appearing instead during a romantic montage midway through the movie.

Shirley Bassey
1) 'Goldfinger', Shirley Bassey

Film: Goldfinger, 1964

Highest UK chart position: 21

Sample lyric: "He's the man, the man with the Midas Touch..."

Told by John Barry to create a song about a villain in the style of 'Mack The Knife', Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley came up with the only Bond track everyone remembers.

Fans of US sitcom Frasier may remember Kelsey Grammer's reluctant rendition in the final episode of the Cheers spin-off's sixth season.


Sheena Easton
5) 'For Your Eyes Only', Sheena Easton

Film: For Your Eyes Only, 1981

Highest UK chart position: 8

Sample lyric: "You see what no one else can see, and now I'm breaking free..."

Nominated for the best song Oscar, Bill Conti's dreary ballad was rewritten at the producers' request. (In the original version, the film's title appeared much later in the track.)

To date, Scottish performer Easton is the only singer to physically appear in a Bond title sequence.

Sir Tim Rice
4) 'All Time High', Rita Coolidge

Film: Octopussy, 1983

Highest UK chart position: N/A

Sample lyric: "All I wanted was a sweet distraction for an hour or two..."

A deathly dull MoR dirge, hastily written by Evita lyricist Tim Rice and perfunctorily performed by Rita Coolidge for Roger Moore's sixth outing as 007.

The same year brought an equally undistinguished tune from Lani Hall, recorded for Sean Connery's "rogue" Bond film Never Say Never Again.

Morten Hartkett of a-ha
3) 'The Living Daylights', a-ha

Film: The Living Daylights, 1987

Highest UK chart position: 5

Sample lyric: "Hey driver, where we going? I swear, my nerves are showing..."

According to composer John Barry, working with the Norwegian pop trio on the gloomy theme for Timothy Dalton's first 007 film was like "playing ping-pong with four balls."

Significantly perhaps, the Bond producers reverted to a more traditional, Bassey-esque number when they came to make Licence to Kill two years later.

2) 'The Man with the Golden Gun', Lulu

Film: The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974

Highest UK chart position: N/A

Sample lyric: "He has a powerful weapon, he charges a million a shot..."

One of the few 007 themes to miss the charts completely, this John Barry-Don Black composition also features some of the most blatantly suggestive lyrics in the franchise.

Alice Cooper's 1973 album Muscle of Love features a song of the same name that the rock star says was written for the film but subsequently rejected.

1) 'Die Another Day', Madonna

Film: Die Another Day, 2002

Highest UK chart position: 3

Sample lyric: "I guess I'll die another day, it's not my time to go..."

Mixed by Paris-based producer Mirwais, Madonna's attempt to give a dance vibe to the 007 franchise is an overcooked calamity.

The singer also made a cameo appearance in Pierce Brosnan's fourth and final Bond film, playing a fencing instructor called Verity.

White 'disappointed' over Coke ad
15 Sep 08 |  Entertainment
Keys and White record Bond theme
30 Jul 08 |  Entertainment

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