Some sixteen months ago, I posted my list of the top ten James Bond movie theme songs. Inevitably, I had to do the opposite list with the worst themes. But instead of covering the ten worst songs, I’ve cut it down to five. This way, we’ll just hear the worst of the worst. Trust me, over the 38 years of the James Bond movie franchise, we’ve had some real humdingers of horrible songs to lead us into a Bond adventure.
5. All Time High (Octopussy)
When you put this against a ballad like For Your Eyes Only, you might be able to see some similarities. However, this is a dull and meandering song that is oddly like a microcosm of the movie itself. It’s instantly forgettable. This song just sounds like it was dropped from one of Rita Coolidge’s albums and picked back up for this. It just doesn’t feel like that something special you want from a Bond theme.
4. The Man with the Golden Gun
When Goldfinger became the gold standard (pun intended) for Bond themes, it was immediately copied with great success with Tom Jones’ Thunderball. So with the success of Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die, copying the formula with The Man with the Golden Gun should have worked wonders. Instead, they dropped the big sound and rock feel of L&LD and replaced with some up-tempo orchestra that didn’t match the vocals and a weak vocal performance spouting double entendres.
3. Tomorrow Never Dies
Hopefully you’re still awake after that. Sheryl Crow isn’t a bad singer but she’s not exactly what you would immediately think of as Bond material. It’s a very slow, plodding, melancholy theme that resembles a lullaby rather than a fire you up Bond theme. By the way, the producers screwed themselves with this theme by playing K.D. Lang’s far superior Surrender (Tomorrow Never Dies) over the end credits. That would have been a proper top ten all-time Bond theme. That and the actual opening sequence here isn’t half bad. Probably the best of the Brosnan years. Well, it’s at least a lot better than the next two on the list.
2. Another Way to Die (Quantum of Solace)
Let me preface this by saying that I like the White Stripes and Raconteurs and think Alicia Keys isn’t horrible (that’s high praise from me). However, combine the two and the effort is reminiscent of the movie: Immediately forgettable and a waste of everyone’s time and money. The song tries to find a balance between a White Stripes song, a Keys song and Chris Cornell’s You Know My Name from Casino Royale. They just tried too hard to make this a great Bond theme and fall flat on their faces.
1. Die Another Day
There are three things that you need to ask yourself when listening to this song: 1) Do the lyrics of this song make any sense at all? 2) Who thought that a dance floor anthem was a good idea? and 3) Why the fuck is Madonna associated with such a hallowed pantheon of music as a James Bond movie theme song? This song was an inexplicable mainstream success but I can’t see how. The song is bad and annoying in every way imaginable. If the movie itself wasn’t bad enough, the song drags it down to parts unknown.