Bond’s Greatest Hits

Channel 4 did one of their “greatest” countdowns, purely on Bond themes, on Saturday night. The programme was rather amusing, with a selection of Bond artists and rejected singers bitching about each other (Alice Cooper on Lulu, John Barry on a-ha: “well, they call themselves a-ha, for a start”) and some cheeky editing of clips from the movies.

Here are Channel 4’s results:

  1. Goldfinger
  2. Diamonds Are Forever
  3. Live and Let Die
  4. From Russia With Love
  5. For Your Eyes Only
  6. Nobody Does It Better
  7. You Only Live Twice
  8. Dr No
  9. Die Another Day
  10. View To A Kill
  11. Goldeneye
  12. O.H.M.S.S
  13. Tomorrow Never Dies
  14. The Man With The Golden Gun
  15. Licence to Kill
  16. The Living Daylights
  17. The World Is Not Enough
  18. Thunderball
  19. Never Say Never Again
  20. Moonraker
  21. Casino Royale
  22. Octopussy

For Your Eyes Only at No. 5? Blimey!

Beside the inevitable fact that they ranked the themes wrongly, it wasn’t clear whether they were taking into acount all the music for the films, just the songs, or just the title song. For example, Casino Royale (number 21) seemed to be there on the strength of “The Look of Love”, which was not a title song. For O.H.M.S.S (number 12) it was “We Have All The Time In The World” that was mentioned, and it’s a great song, but would any one regard their Bond theme collection complete without Barry’s terrific instrumental title theme? And whilst they mentioned closing title songs “Surrender” and “If There Was A Man” they didn’t mention “The Experience of Love” from the end of Goldeneye. But they did discuss the score to Goldeneye (compared to the music from Tetris by one commentator, but as “ahead of its time” by David Arnold who has scored every Bond film since). So does the score count? Do the other songs count? Should we mark down “Nobody Does It Better?” because of Hamlisch’s cheesy score, or boost a-ha’s feeble “Living Daylights” because of the contributions from Barry and The Pretenders?

No the only way to do it is to rank soundtracks separately from the title themes and songs, and rank each song separately (and forget the unofficial Bond movies). So, here’s my themes and songs ranking:

  1. The James Bond Theme
  2. Goldfinger
  3. Nobody Does It Better
  4. View To A Kill
  5. Live and Let Die
  6. O.H.M.S.S
  7. You Only Live Twice
  8. We Have All The Time In The World
  9. From Russia With Love
  10. Surrender
  11. The World Is Not Enough
  12. Tomorrow Never Dies
  13. Thunderball
  14. Goldeneye
  15. Where Has Everybody Gone?
  16. Licence to Kill
  17. Diamonds Are Forever
  18. Under The Mango Tree
  19. Moonraker
  20. The Man With The Golden Gun
  21. All Time High
  22. If There Was A Man
  23. The Experience of Love
  24. The Living Daylights
  25. For Your Eyes Only
  26. Die Another Day
  27. You Know My Name
  28. Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?
  29. If You Asked Me To

I’ve probably missed a few. Let’s say they didn’t make it into the top 29.

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See for more...

5 thoughts on “Bond’s Greatest Hits

  1. I think they may have insulted Tetris with that comment. 🙂 What was the name of the show, by the way?

    I love lists, though! I’m going to program just those songs into my iPod and listen to them all once more and see how I’d rank them. I’ve never given much thought to putting them in order.

  2. This post is titled after the programme.

    I hated the score to Goldeneye the first time I heard it. In fact, I’ve no idea why I bought the CD, but I did, and subsequently several other Eric Serra soundtracks. It’s superb, and A Pleasant Drive In St. Petersburg, which didn’t make it into the film (replaced by brassy Bond theme by John Altman) is the greatest track on the album.

  3. I tried ranking them yesterday and came up with a preliminary list. It was much more difficult then I thought. First I tried just ranking them… that was too difficult.

    Then I broken them into 4 groups: Great ones, Really Good ones, Enjoyable ones and ones I don’t like.

    Ones I don’t like was easy: There are only two. The Experience of Love is the only Bond song I’ve ever deleted from my iTunes, and garners my hall of shame award as my least liked Bond film. The other will probably get me booed. We Have All The Time In The World. It’s a beautiful tune from Barry’s best soundtrack ruined completely by Louis Armstrong’s singing. I have just never liked his gravelly voice. It’s rough as rocks to my ears.

    I then sorted out the rest of the groups within themselves, put the three lists together in order, printed them out and… I don’t think it is right. Many, many of them are so close that each time I rank them they change position. I’m going to give it some more thought.

  4. Boo.

    Louis Armstrong is one of the top musicians of the 20th century, not just for the voice but for the purity of his trumpetry. We Have All The Time In The World isn’t a bad little tune, but Louis’ recordings include many greater.

    For me, there are very few “ones I don’t like” in the Bond cannon. I’d say all but my bottom 6 are definitely enjoyable ones, the rest are inoffensive (I’ve even got used to Die Another Day and You Know My Name).

    Portishead for Bond 22, please.

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