It's possible to have reasonable discussions around the two classic James Bond debates: Who was the best Bond? Which was the best Bond film? (Although every right-thinking person knows that the correct answers are obviously Sean Connery and Goldfinger, respectively.) Fans will wax eloquent about plot points, action sequences, one-liners, brawn vs. charm, and a host of other factors.
Shift the conversation to the topic of James Bond theme songs, though, and the conversation turns alarmingly subjective. "Live and Let Die' is badass!" "I like Carly Simon." "Madonna gets on my nerves."
Perhaps we should talk a little bit about what makes a great Bond theme.
1. It's not about the best song. No list worth anything will merely rank the best songs that happen to have been Bond themes. Otherwise, the producers could just stick "Stairway to Heaven" or "Satisfaction" or "Try a Little Tenderness" into the next installment of the series and assure themselves the new No. 1 spot. No, the songs shouldn't only (or even primarily) appeal as songs per se, but as icons of Bond. They should exude Bondness. When you hear one of them, you shouldn't first think "What a great song!" Instead, you should immediately be plunged into visions of a Bond film, preferably with yourself as either the titular hero or as his love interest.
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