Ranking Bond Theme Songs: Adele, Madonna, Tina Turner and More Join James
Bookies in the UK have closed betting on the performer behind the theme song for the new James Bond film, Spectre, as an anonymous bettor placed a £15,000 wager that Radiohead will perform the track. There's no official word yet from the band or the studio...but it's safe to say that no one throws away that much money without a good hunch. Although director Sam Mendes says that a song has indeed been recorded and will be officially released soon, all we can do right now is wonder. In the meantime, take a look at the theme songs from the previous seven installments of the Bond series, which we've ranked from worst to first:
07) "You Know My Name" by Chris Cornell (from Casino Royale)
Chris Cornell has a heck of a voice and he's a pretty good songwriter as well...both statements based almost entirely on his career with Soundgarden. There's something about the intimidating title of this track from Casino Royale that suggests Cornell would approach it with the same dark tone that he did on Superunknown tracks such as "Mailman," "4th of July" or "Fresh Tendrils." Instead, this echoes of his less satisfactory solo albums, and while having crafted many a successful chorus for many a rock band, Cornell's product for this film doesn't grab our attention like the more pop-centric stars who we'll see as the list goes along.
06) "Another Way To Die" by Jack White and Alicia Keys (from Quantam of Solace)
There's little doubt that the newest selection of James Bond films, starring Daniel Craig in the title role, have been far more satisfactory than the version offered by Pierce Brosnan. Unfortunately, for the most part, the singles representing the former films haven't been quite as solid across the board. Only one of the films was bold enough to bring two superstars together to tackle a theme song. If the other singles on this list are any indication, a strong female vocalist such as Alicia Keys should have been a huge success. So is Jack White the issue? Afraid so. White just brings too much personality to his guitar playing, even at his most blue—usually a good thing—and perhaps the country-western feel on this track just doesn't match a British secret agent very well.
05) "The World Is Not Enough" by Garbage (from The World Is Not Enough)
Looking at the list of seven performers featured on this list, it would be easy to assume that Garbage would have been the most mismatched with the Bond series. Frontwoman Shirley Manson is more noted for rather emotive/sassy tracks such as "Only Happy When It Rains" or "Stupid Girl," and not necessarily for belting like Tina Turner/Keys. She manages to rein in her personality a touch and handle "The World Is Not Enough" just fine, and Butch Vig works the band's electronic tidbits in just fine. The problem, as we somewhat alluded to, is that the song doesn't sound like something that Manson would write...because she didn't. Don Black, who's written many a Bond track, sounds odd coming from Manson's mouth.
04) "GoldenEye" by Tina Turner (from GoldenEye)
From a strictly vocal perspective, Tina Turner seems like an ideal vocalist to handle a Bond theme, and she tackles the theme to GoldenEye just fine. It's more interesting to look at the songwriters behind the title track: Bono and The Edge from U2. Apparently the duo (who collaborated on music for Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark) were fans of the Bond franchise, and jumped in after finding out that Turner had been hired to perform the next theme song. You can catch more mature (read: thought-out) plots going on between the lines of "GoldenEye" ("You'll never know how I watched you / from the shadows as a child / you'll never know how it feels / to be the one who's left behind").
03) "Tomorrow Never Dies" by Sheryl Crow (from Tomorrow Never Dies)
No matter the group that delivers the Bond theme, whether it be Tina Turner or post-grungers such as Garbage, there's often an emphasis on involving traditional orchestral contributions in the mix. This makes a bigger deal in the theme to Tomorrow Never Dies than in any of the other tracks listed here. Crow herself delivers enticing verses, but stumbles during the hook, not realizing the potential she laid out prior. An intimidating set of chords and squealing glissandi from the violins grabs our attention once again however. If only the hook were written more toward Crow's strengths, "Tomorrow Never Dies" could possibly have grabbed the top spot in this competition.
02) "Die Another Day" by Madonna (from Die Another Day)
Diehard fans of the traditional Bond theme, which had been an institution since the '60s, were surely in an uproar when Madonna released "Die Another Day" during 2002. It did away with balladic, orchestral influences that had been in place for decades and fully embraced electronic music, similar to what was actually happening in the score as well. It could have been a disaster but Madonna's contribution was successful, allowing her vocals to be cut strategically and delivering a hook of the purest pop (and tastefully done at that). Haters gonna hate, but the new style caught the interest of mainstream music fans, who requested it all the way up to no. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. That would have easily been the highest charting single on this list if not for...
"Skyfall" by Adele (from Skyfall)
..."Skyfall," which also topped out at no. 8 on the Hot 100. Simply put, the folks over at Eon Productions grabbed Adele during a period where she could simply do no wrong (and that period continues today, as she hasn't released a single since "Skyfall"). She had just come off of winning six Grammys for 21, and almost immediately jumped on the theme for Skyfall, which sounds like the logical next single from her second album. The track went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song, and deserved it too. We can't say for sure if Radiohead will be responsible for the them of Spectre, but if it is, Adele has raised the bar awfully high with the preceding theme.