Huge Orchestral Sounds and Controversy: The History of James Bond’s Iconic Theme Songs

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Huge Orchestral Sounds and Controversy: The History of James Bond’s Iconic Theme Songs

James Bond: The Music

James Bond theme songs are iconic. Since 1963’s From Russia with Love, a big name has performed and sung the theme, usually played out in a lengthy title sequence. Over the years, the voice of legends like Tom Jones, Paul McCartney, and Louis Armstrong have begun Bond films. But the series has permanently moved with the times. The last three bond themes were sung by Adele, Sam Smith, and Billie Eilish, all while their careers were reaching a peak.

james bond

The opening themes have almost always been long vocal ballads packed with punch. These kinds of performances make your draw drop and prepare you for the elegance combined with the frenetic energy of a James Bond Film.

Think back to Sam Smith’s ‘Writing’s on the Wall” as the perfect example of this kind of track. His falsetto vocals cut over beautiful violins that rise and fall above the rhythm played out on a piano. The whole track is played out at a confidently slow pace that leaves us hanging off of Sam’s every word. It was the perfect set-up for Spectre. 

Some Bond themes depart entirely from the traditional style, though, inevitably bringing controversy. One of the most significant Bond song controversies came with Madonna dance-pop ‘Die Another Day, released in 2002. It is with incredibly high energy that breaks from tradition. Madonna’s vocals and the accompanying synths are boldly overproduced, and there is no other Bond theme like it.

This is not the case for all the themes, though, and some of them carry a little more pace, like Duran Duran’s ‘A View to A Kill.’ Released in 1985, it is straight out of the 80s and the New Wave movement. Despite this new style, it still held all the hallmarks of a James Bond theme, like its vast orchestral elements. The performance was very well received, earning the band number 2 in the UK singles chart and being nominated Best Original Song at the Golden Globes.

jamesbond

James Bond films are also marked by the secondary themes that run in increments throughout the film and have room for a little more artistic experimentation. However, despite Madonna’s work, it is here that dance music has had its most significant mark on the Bond franchise.

Propellerhead’s ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ is a trip-hop of John Barry’s 1969 track of the same title. With its energetic breakbeats, it broke from the original style. However, it lost none of the menacing tension of John Barry’s original. The track was used in composer David Arnold’s collection of reworked Bond themes: Shaken and Stirred: The David Arnold James Bond Project.

Although that did not make it into a James Bond film, it paved the way for EDM to be involved in James Bond. Having created Shaken and Stirred, David Arnold was invited to produce the soundtrack for the next Bond film; Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). Arnold gave the responsibility for the secondary soundtrack to Moby, who stunned the world with his of the original James Bond theme. Revitalized with energy and electronic influence, the track brought in samples from previous films. So, of course, you can’t help but get goosebumps when the iconic line from Goldfinger, “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die,” bursts into the mix. Moby’s was the first of many bond theme remix included in a bond film, with Paul Oakenfold’s remix for Die Another Day being produced in 2002.

James Bond has already jumped back onto the big screen, with No Time to Die being released. You can find it at your local cinema. Be sure to listen out for your favorite EDM producers who may have made it onto the soundtrack, and make sure you are there at the start to hear Billy Eilish’s sensational theme song.

James Bond has already jumped back onto the big screen, with No Time to Die being released. You can find it at your local cinema. Be sure to listen out for your favorite EDM producers who may have made it onto the soundtrack, and make sure you are there at the start to hear Billy Eilish’s sensational theme song.

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