James Bond music
The James Bond film series from Eon Productions has had numerous signature tracks over the years, many of which are now considered classic pieces of film music. The best known of these pieces of music is the ubiquitous "James Bond Theme." Other instrumental pieces, such as the "007 Theme" or "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", and various songs, such as Shirley Bassey's "Goldfinger", Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die" or Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better", Sheena Easton's "For Your Eyes Only" and Duran Duran's "A View to a Kill" have also become identified with the series. "Skyfall" from Skyfall won the Academy Award for Best Song making it the first Bond song to do so.
"James Bond Theme"
"James Bond Is Back"
The briefest of "James Bond themes", this composition started off the "Opening Titles" music of From Russia with Love. It was heard in the On Her Majesty's Secret Service film trailer. WLS (AM) used the theme in the mid-1960s for their secret agent radio serial "The Wild Adventures of Peter Fugitive" that appeared on "The Art Roberts Show".
"007 Theme", not to be confused with the "James Bond Theme", is an adventure theme composed by John Barry in 1963 for the Bond film, From Russia with Love. "The John Barry Seven" had pop chart hit with a cover version of Elmer Bernstein's theme to The Magnificent Seven that featured seven beats repeated throughout the theme. Barry used seven beats throughout the "007 Theme".
It became a secondary theme for the Bond films, being used throughout the series, primarily during action scenes. Here are its most notable appearances:
- From Russia with Love — Played during the gypsy camp gunfight and also during Bond's theft of the Lektor decoder from the Russian embassy in Istanbul.
- Thunderball — Featured briefly in climactic underwater fight and featuring on the film soundtrack album; a similar but different theme of seven beats is played when Bond runs from SPECTRE during a parade and during the climax.
- You Only Live Twice — Played during the flight of "Little Nellie" before Bond battles four helicopters that attack him.
- Diamonds Are Forever — Played during Bond's destruction of Blofeld's Headquarters.
- Moonraker — Played during the Amazon River chase.
The theme has not been featured in its entirety in a Bond film since its use in Moonraker.
This piece of music was also used by Al Primo, the news director at KYW-TV in Philadelphia for its long-time theme to Eyewitness News, and was adopted by other Group W stations in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Boston and San Francisco as well as other non-Group W stations, including WLS-TV in Chicago. The theme was also sampled by Big Audio Dynamite for the 1986 song "Sightsee M.C!"
Like John Barry, David Arnold has left his own mark in the music of James Bond. In this case, he has established what can be called the "suspense motif", which is a descending, repetitive four-note motif that can be heard in most of the Bond films he has scored, starting with Tomorrow Never Dies. It is usually an underlying motif playing under the main melody, and is usually orchestrated with piano trills, high strings, horns, blaring trumpets, and an underlying snare drum. This motif can be heard in:
- Tomorrow Never Dies — "Station Break", "*-3-Send", "Underwater Discovery"
- The World Is Not Enough — "Pipeline", "Submarine"
- Die Another Day — "Death of Moon", "Antonov"
- Casino Royale — "Miami International", "Dirty Martini", and very briefly in "African Rundown"
Composers (Eon Productions)
The largest contributions to the Bond films, save for the "James Bond Theme", are works from John Barry. In addition to his uncredited contribution to Dr. No, Barry composed eleven Bond soundtracks and is credited with the creation of "007" (dominated by brass and percussion) and the popular orchestral theme from On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
Next to Barry, David Arnold is the series' most regular composer. He composed the scores for five Bond films: Tomorrow Never Dies through Quantum of Solace. His Barry-esque orchestrations combined with electronic rhythm elements gave the Pierce Brosnan era its musical identity. Arnold was essentially Barry's anointed successor, Barry having recommended Arnold to Barbara when she took over the Bond films from her father Albert R. Broccoli.
Other major composers and record-producers include George Martin, Bill Conti, Michael Kamen, Marvin Hamlisch, Éric Serra and Thomas Newman. Each of these composed for only one Bond film, with the exception of Newman. The departures from John Barry had various causes. Sometimes Barry declined in order to avoid paying double income tax—US and UK. Sometimes the director had worked with the composer of his choice on other films—the latter happened to David Arnold with Skyfall and Spectre.
|Dr. No||1962||Monty Norman|
|From Russia with Love||1963||John Barry|
|You Only Live Twice||1967|
|On Her Majesty's Secret Service||1969|
|Diamonds Are Forever||1971|
|Live and Let Die||1973||George Martin|
|The Man with the Golden Gun||1974||John Barry|
|The Spy Who Loved Me||1977||Marvin Hamlisch|
|For Your Eyes Only||1981||Bill Conti|
|A View to a Kill||1985|
|The Living Daylights||1987|
|Licence to Kill||1989||Michael Kamen|
|Tomorrow Never Dies||1997||David Arnold|
|The World Is Not Enough||1999|
|Die Another Day||2002|
|Quantum of Solace||2008|
Music from Eon Productions
The "James Bond Theme" is the main theme for Dr. No, and has featured in all the Eon Productions Bond films in different versions. The theme has also featured on the gun barrel sequences at the beginning of the films. The original theme was written by Monty Norman, and was performed by John Barry and his orchestra in 1962. In the opening credits of Dr. No, two other pieces were played: an untitled bongo interlude and a Calypso-flavored rendition of "Three Blind Mice", titled "Kingston Calypso". Due to this, Dr. No is the only film to have more than one opening theme. The "James Bond Theme" reached No. 13 in the UK Singles Chart, and remained in the charts for 13 weeks.
The opening credits of From Russia with Love were accompanied by an instrumental version of the main theme, arranged by John Barry and written by Lionel Bart. A single by The John Barry Orchestra reached No. 39 in the U.K. At the film's end, a vocal version by English singer Matt Monro is heard. This song spent 13 weeks in the U.K. charts, peaking at No. 20.
Goldfinger was the third soundtrack composed by John Barry, and this time the theme song had lyrics written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse. The soundtrack reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and spent 70 weeks on the charts. It also peaked at No. 14 on the UK Albums Chart, and received the Bond series first Grammy Award nomination, Best Original Score from a Motion Picture or Television Show.
Welsh singer Shirley Bassey has performed the most Bond themes – she recorded the themes to Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, and Moonraker. Bassey also recorded her own versions of "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" for Thunderball and "No Good About Goodbye" for Quantum of Solace (see "Unused songs").
Paul McCartney's performance of "Live and Let Die" was the first Bond theme song to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song; it reached No. 2 as a U.S. single, and No. 9 on the U.K. charts. George Martin's work in the song won the Grammy for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists.
Marvin Hamlisch's (music) and Carole Bayer Sager's (lyrics) "Nobody Does It Better" (performed by Carly Simon) received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, as did Bill Conti's "For Your Eyes Only", which was performed by Sheena Easton. Duran Duran and John Barry's "A View To A Kill" topped the singles charts in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 (the only Bond theme to hit No. 1). It was not until the 2013 Oscars that a Bond theme song finally won the Best Song Academy Award, the theme from Skyfall by Adele. Thomas Newman's score also got the first nomination for Academy Award for Best Original Score in the series since Hamlisch's own for The Spy Who Loved Me, while winning the Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media. Adele's song also won the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media.
Several of the later films have alternative theme songs, often during the closing credits. The Living Daylights featured The Pretenders performing "If There Was a Man," composed by John Barry with Chrissie Hynde. Licence to Kill has "If You Asked Me To" sung by Patti Labelle. GoldenEye featured Éric Serra's "The Experience of Love". Tomorrow Never Dies included k.d. lang's "Surrender" during the closing credits, a song which was originally proposed by composer David Arnold to be the title sequence theme instead of the Sheryl Crow title song. The "Surrender" theme is heard throughout the score while the melody of Sheryl Crow's song is not used again during the film. This hearkens back to the Thunderball soundtrack, where Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was originally proposed as the opening credits music, only to be replaced by the eponymous title track as sung by Tom Jones.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service featured an instrumental theme tune, something which remains unique amongst the post-From Russia with Love films, and included a vocal theme in the form of Louis Armstrong's performance of "We Have All the Time in the World", written by John Barry and Hal David.
- A song titled "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" sung by Shirley Bassey was originally slated to be the theme song of Thunderball. It was re-recorded by Dionne Warwick, but Albert Broccoli insisted the theme song must include the film's title and also decided that the lyrics should not start before the film's title Thunderball appears on-screen. A new song was composed and recorded at the eleventh hour titled "Thunderball", performed by Tom Jones. The melody of "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" remains a major component of the film score.
- Neither "All Time High" (Octopussy), "You Know My Name" (Casino Royale), "Another Way to Die" (Quantum of Solace) nor "Writing's on the Wall" (Spectre) feature the title of its film either in the song title or lyrics (although "Another Way to Die" features the word "solace" in the second stanza). While not named after the film, "Nobody Does It Better" does feature the line "the spy who loved me" in its lyrics.
- "You Know My Name" is the first main theme to a Bond film that did not appear on the film's official soundtrack album; "Skyfall" is the second.; "Writing's on the Wall" is the third.
A number of Bond films include one (or more) additional songs in the soundtrack. Some of these pieces of music, such as "We Have All the Time in the World" by Louis Armstrong, have gone on to become as well known as the main themes, while other songs remain exclusively linked to the film in which they appear.
|Dr. No||"Jump Up"
"Underneath the Mango Tree"
|1962||Byron Lee and the Dragonaires |
|From Russia with Love||"From Russia With Love" (End Credits)||1963||Matt Monro|
|Thunderball||"Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"||1965||Dionne Warwick|
and another version by Shirley Bassey
(not on soundtrack, only instrumental version appears in film)
|On Her Majesty's Secret Service||"We Have All the Time in the World"
"Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?"
|1969||Louis Armstrong |
|For Your Eyes Only||"Make It Last All Night"||1981||Rage|
|A View to a Kill||"California Gold" (not on soundtrack)||1985||Gidea Park|
|The Living Daylights||"Where Has Everybody Gone?"
"If There Was a Man"
|Licence to Kill||"If You Asked Me To"
|GoldenEye||"The Experience of Love"
"Searching for the Golden Eye"
Motiv8 and Kym Mazelle
Starr Parodi and Jeff Fair (used in teasers, not in film)
|Tomorrow Never Dies||"Surrender"
"James Bond Theme"
Moby (not in film)
|The World Is Not Enough||"Only Myself to Blame"
"James Bond Theme" (End Title)
"Sweetest Coma Again" (Japanese End Title)
|1999||Scott Walker (not in film)|
David Arnold (not on soundtrack)
Luna Sea (only on Japanese soundtrack)
|Die Another Day||"London Calling"
"James Bond Theme (Bond vs. Oakenfold)"
|2002||The Clash (not on soundtrack)|
Paul Oakenfold (not in film)
- Dionne Warwick's performance of "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is never actually heard in Thunderball; it was originally to have been the opening credits theme, but this was changed when Albert Broccoli decreed the theme had to include the film's title. The melody of "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is heard throughout the film; Warwick's version was finally released in the 1990s.
- The original end title theme to The World Is Not Enough was "Only Myself to Blame", composed by David Arnold and Don Black, and sung by Scott Walker, but was left out of the final film and replaced by an Arnold arrangement of the "James Bond Theme". "Blame" was, however, left on the The World Is Not Enough soundtrack album, and its melody, representing the Elektra King character, appears throughout the score, most prominently in the tracks "Casino" and "Elektra's Theme."
- Matt Monro's vocal rendition of "From Russia with Love" is often considered the official theme song for that film, even though the opening credits use an instrumental version that also incorporates the "James Bond Theme." Monro's version isn't heard until about 15 minutes into the film over a radio, and again over the closing titles.
Some songs have been dubbed for the foreign versions of the films.
|Film||Original title||Translated title||Performer||Country|
|From Russia with Love||"From Russia with Love"||"Bons baisers de Russie"
"Die Wolga ist weit" (not on DVD releases)
|On Her Majesty's Secret Service||"Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?"||"Savez-vous ce qu'il faut au sapin de Noël?"
"Wovon träumt ein Weihnachtsbaum im Mai?" (on German DVD releases)
|Diamonds Are Forever||"Diamonds Are Forever"||"Vivo di diamanti"||Shirley Bassey||Italy|
|The Spy Who Loved Me||"Lawrence of Arabia Theme"
"Doctor Zhivago Theme" (Music box)
"Concerto for Piano N°21" (Elvira Madigan) – Andante
"Air on the G String"
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Johann Sebastian Bach
|Moonraker||"Close Encounters of the Third Kind Theme"
"The Magnificent Seven Theme"
"Prelude No. 15 (Raindrop prelude)"
|A View to a Kill||"The Four Seasons"
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
|The Living Daylights||"40th Symphony in G minor" (1st movement)
"Finale-Act II-Le Nozze di Figaro"
"String Quartet in D major"
"Variations on a Rococo Theme"
|Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart|
|Goldeneye||"Stand By Your Man" (Minnie Driver)||Billy Sherrill / Tammy Wynette|
|Tomorrow Never Dies||"It Had to Be You" (Instrumental)||Gus Kahn / Isham Jones|
Non-Eon Productions songs
Main title themes
|Film||Year||Score composer||Title song||Performed by|
|Casino Royale||1967||Burt Bacharach||"Casino Royale"||Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass|
|Never Say Never Again||1983||Michel Legrand||"Never Say Never Again"||Lani Hall|
- The closing credits of Casino Royale use a vocal version of "Casino Royale" sung by Mike Redway, who remains uncredited.
|Casino Royale||"The Look of Love"||1967||Dusty Springfield|
|Never Say Never Again||"Une Chanson d'Amour"||1983||Sophie Della|
- The soundtrack to the 1967 spoof Casino Royale also included two short comedic songs sung in a 1920s style. One led into an instrumental version of "The Look of Love" and began with the line "James Bond playing at Casino Royale..."; later, this tune was reprised as "Seven James Bonds at Casino Royale" which lead into a lyrical version of the theme sung by Mike Redway that played over the closing credits.
There are a number of songs which were originally written as potential Bond themes, but not used, which have then been released or otherwise made available elsewhere. These include:
- "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" by Dionne Warwick/Shirley Bassey – The originally intended theme song for Thunderball was titled "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" a reference to a nickname given to Bond by an Italian journalist in 1962. Warwick and Bassey both recorded versions, but halfway through the scoring process, Albert Broccoli decided that the film's title must appear in the lyrics, so "Thunderball" was commissioned. The song still plays a prominent role in the score and both singers' versions have appeared on compilations in the 1990s.
- "Thunderball" by Johnny Cash
- "Run James Run" by Brian Wilson, intended as a James Bond theme, but ultimately released as the eponymous track on the Beach Boys' album Pet Sounds.
- "You Only Live Twice" by Julie Rogers – Included on the 30th anniversary CD release.
- "The Man with the Golden Gun" by Alice Cooper – Appears on their 1973 album Muscle of Love
- "For Your Eyes Only" by Blondie – Appears on their 1982 album The Hunter.
- "Never Say Never Again" by Phyllis Hyman – Intended for the 1983 film.
- "The Living Daylights" by Pet Shop Boys – adapted from a demo theme for The Living Daylights, later completely reworked as "This Must Be the Place I Waited Years to Leave". It appears on their 1990 album Behaviour.
- "The Juvenile" by Ace of Base – originally written in 1995 (called "The Goldeneye"), then re-written as "The Juvenile" and released in 2002 on Da Capo
- "Tomorrow Never Lies" by Pulp (originally called "Tomorrow Never Dies") – released as a b-side on their 1997 single "Help the Aged", and on the vinyl version of their 1998 album This Is Hardcore
- "Tomorrow Never Dies" by Saint Etienne – Appears on their Built on Sand album, with the liner notes revealing that Pierce Brosnan kept the master tape of the song. Other artists who submitted Tomorrow Never Dies themes included Marc Almond, Swan Lee, The Cardigans and Space.
- "Spectre" by Radiohead – The song was originally in the running to be the theme for Spectre, but Sam Smith was chosen instead. The song was released on SoundCloud on Christmas Day 2015.
Cover versions and spin-offs
Bond music has inspired a number of cover albums in a variety of genres, including the 2007 album Mister Bond – A Jazzy Cocktail of Ice Cold Themes (lounge), Shaken and Stirred: The David Arnold James Bond Project featuring David Arnold collaborating with several contemporary artists. The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra recorded several albums with Bond music and performs in premieres and special events of Bond films. Britain's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra released an album of several Bond songs performances called Best Of James Bond, some of which were used on the "Ultimate Edition" DVD releases menus. Billy Strange released "Secret Agent File" in 1965. Death metal cover band Ten Masked Men has included at least one Bond theme on each of their albums. In 2004, The Cavaliers play a show titled "007" using Bond music, such as "GoldenEye", "For Your Eyes Only", "Live and Let Die", "Hovercraft Chase", "Welcome to Cuba" and "Paris and Bond". Some of them are Italo disco-like rhythms and soundtrack albums promote hits that matches the film's theme.
With the increase in audio quality for video game consoles and personal computers, in addition to the continued popularity of computer and video games, publisher Electronic Arts as well as Activision (since 2008) has included opening themes and film-style credit sequences to some of its more recent Bond video game spin offs.
|Video game||Year||Score composer||Title song||Performed by|
|GoldenEye 007||1997||Graeme Norgate and Grant Kirkhope|
|Tomorrow Never Dies||1999||Tommy Tallarico||"Tomorrow Never Dies"||Sheryl Crow|
|The World Is Not Enough||2000||Don Veca|
|Agent Under Fire||2001||Don Veca||"The James Bond Theme"|
|Nightfire||2002||Steve Duckworth, Ed Lima, Jeff Tymoschuk||"Nearly Civilized"||Esthero|
|Everything or Nothing||2004||Sean Callery, Jeff Tymoschuk||"Everything or Nothing"||Mýa|
|GoldenEye: Rogue Agent||2004||Paul Oakenfold||"If You're Gonna..."||Natasha Bedingfield|
|From Russia with Love||2005||Christopher Lennertz||"From Russia with Love" (instrumental remix)||John Barry|
|Quantum of Solace||2008||Christopher Lennertz||"When Nobody Loves You"||Kerli|
|GoldenEye 007||2010||David Arnold, Kevin Kiner||"GoldenEye"||Nicole Scherzinger|
|Blood Stone||2010||Richard Jacques||"I'll Take It All"||Joss Stone|
|007 Legends||2012||David Arnold, Kevin Kiner||"Goldfinger" (instrumental remix)||David Arnold|
The 2008 continuation novel Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks was the first James Bond novel to receive its own theme song. Also called "Devil May Care", the song was written and recorded by Cardiff band SAL and was available on the UK audiobook release of the novel.
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