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Monday, July 8, 2024

Rockin' the movies: James Bond movies with rock themes

The James Bond film series, which began with *Dr. No* in 1962, has become synonymous with style, sophistication, and suspense. A crucial element of this enduring franchise is its music, which not only amplifies the action on screen but also sets the mood for the suave British spy’s adventures. The music in James Bond films, from the iconic theme tune to memorable hit singles, has played an integral role in defining the series' unique character.

 The Iconic James Bond Theme

The original James Bond theme, composed by Monty Norman and arranged by John Barry, debuted in *Dr. No* (1962). This theme is characterized by its distinctive surf-rock guitar riff, brassy orchestration, and dynamic melody. Monty Norman's creation, with Barry's arrangement, laid the musical foundation for Bond, encapsulating the character's blend of danger and elegance. Over the decades, this theme has been a recurring element in the series, often adapted and reinterpreted to suit different films and changing musical tastes. Its bold, brassy sound and memorable riff evoke the thrill of espionage and the exotic allure of Bond’s world.

 Integral Role in Setting the Theme

Music in James Bond films serves more than a background role; it is central to the films’ identity. The James Bond theme itself often introduces the films, creating an immediate sense of anticipation and excitement. This musical motif recurs throughout the series, reinforcing the adventurous and sophisticated tone that is quintessentially Bond.

Each Bond film typically features a theme song that aligns with its plot and mood. These songs, often performed by prominent artists of their time, set the tone for the film and enhance its emotional impact. For example, the haunting melodies of *Goldfinger* (1964) by Shirley Bassey or the sleek and contemporary *Skyfall* (2012) by Adele perfectly complement their respective films' atmospheres, from the glamorous to the gritty.

The use of music extends to the action sequences and quieter moments, where the orchestral score underscores the suspense, romance, and drama. John Barry, who scored eleven Bond films, established a musical language for the series that blends jazz, classical, and contemporary influences, creating a soundscape that is both timeless and adaptable.

Rocking Hit Singles from Bond Movies

Beyond the main theme, James Bond films have produced numerous hit singles that have left a significant mark on popular music. These songs often become chart-toppers, reflecting the broad appeal of the Bond series and its ability to stay relevant through musical innovation

Live and Let Die by Paul McCartney & Wings (1973) from the movie of same name

Composed by Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney, and performed by Wings, this song for *Live and Let Die* brought a rock sensibility to the series. Its dynamic structure, which shifts from soft ballad to hard rock, mirrors the film's mix of action and intrigue. The song was a commercial success and remains one of the most recognized Bond themes.

Written by English musician Paul McCartney and his wife Linda McCartney, it reunited McCartney with former Beatles producer George Martin, who produced the song and arranged the orchestra. McCartney was contacted to write the song by the film's producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli before the screenplay was finished. Wings recorded "Live and Let Die" during the sessions for Red Rose Speedway in October 1972 at AIR Studios. It was also the first rock song to open a Bond film. Another version by B. J. Arnau also appears in the film.

Alicia Keys & Jack White - Another Way To Die (2008) from No Time to Die

Written and produced by White as the theme song to the 2008 James Bond film Quantum of Solace,[1][2] it was released as a single in the United States on September 30, 2008 and in Europe on October 20, 2008. The song—which features White on vocals, guitar, piano and drums and Keys on vocals—is the first duet in the Bond film series,[1] and was nominated for Best Short Form Music Video at the 2009 Grammy Awards, with director P. R. Brown.[3] It was also nominated for Best Song at the 2008 Critics' Choice Awards,[4] and won Best Original Song at the Satellite Awards 2008.

Chris Cornell - You Know My Name (2006) from Casino Royale

The track was leaked onto the Internet on September 20, 2006, and later released as an official single on November 13, 2006 through Interscope Records. It charted in many countries, notably peaking at No. 7 on the UK singles chart.[3] It sold 148,000 copies in 2006 in the UK,[3] and has sold 323,000 digital copies and garnered 3.5 million streams in the U.S. as of 2017.[4]Reviews of the song were positive; it won the Satellite Award and the World Soundtrack Award, and was nominated for a Grammy Award. It was not included in the Casino Royale soundtrack, but appeared on Cornell's second solo album, Carry On.

Garbage - The World Is Not Enough (1999)

The song was written by composer David Arnold (who also scored the film) and lyricist Don Black, previously responsible for four other Bond songs, and was produced by Garbage and Arnold. "The World Is Not Enough" was composed in the style of the series' title songs, in contrast with the post-modernproduction and genre-hopping of Garbage's first two albums. The group recorded most of "The World Is Not Enough" while touring Europe in support of their album Version 2.0, telephoning Arnold as he recorded the orchestral backing in London before travelling to England. Garbage later finished recording and mixing the song at Armoury Studios in Canada. The lyrics reflect the film's plot (told from the viewpoint of antagonist Elektra King), with themes of world domination and seduction.

Sheryl Crow - Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Crow's theme was eventually picked by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. In the meantime, a bold, brassy number in the classic John Barry/Shirley Bassey vein that Arnold himself wrote with David McAlmont and lyricist Don Black with the intent of being a theme, was relegated to the end credits with the title "Surrender". While McAlmont recorded the demo, "Surrender" was eventually recorded by k.d. lang after an extensive selective process.

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