When a franchise has been as prolific, enduring and varied as James Bond, it inspires intense debate — seriously, like laser-scene-in-Goldfinger intense. There have been 23 Bond flicks, unless you argue (and some definitely will) to include Sean Connery's one-off Never Say Never Again and 1967's spoofy Casino Royale. There have been six "official" Bonds, all of which get votes in feverish "best all time" discussions — yep, even that one-and-doner George Lazenby.
And now, with the Florida Orchestra honoring Ian Fleming's crime-fighting cad in three "Bond & Beyond" shows this weekend, here comes another spirited secret-agent brouhaha:
Best Bond song? Not easy! After all, the series has featured some of the lushest, sexiest movie music ever. There's also argument to be made that Monty Norman and John Barry's surfy, swaggery James Bond Theme, first heard in Dr. No, should be considered the No. 1 "song."
So let the bickering commence. Herewith, to delight and irk, my own 10 best Bond songs, many of which will be robustly referenced by the Florida Orchestra at shows that will no doubt leave you shaken and stirred:
10 The Living Daylights, A-Ha (1987's The Living Daylights) So incredibly 1987 — from those Roquefort synths to that emo-faced New Romantic vocal — this one is nevertheless the second-catchiest cut in the Norwegian fun bunch's catalog.
9 Thunderball, Tom Jones (1965's Thunderball) The only man to bed more conquests than our man in MI6, Jones over-emotes absolutely nonsensical lyrics as if he were pleading for his life ("And he strikes like Thunderball!")
8 The World Is Not Enough, Garbage (1999's The World Is Not Enough) Garbage femme fatale Shirley Manson would have made a great Bond girl — and an even better Bond villain.
7 All Time High, Rita Coolidge (1983's Octopussy) Underrated Bond movie, underrated Bond song. This one shares a sultry, satin-bedsheets charm with Nobody Does It Better: the romantic side of 007.
6 Diamonds Are Forever, Shirley Bassey (1971's Diamonds Are Forever) Still cool enough, and still modern enough, to be sampled by rapper Kanye West on his song Diamonds of Sierra Leone, which also had a cameo by Jay-Z. 'Ye, Jay, Shirley — now that's a party!
5 Goldfinger, Shirley Bassey (1964's Goldfinger) Let's get this out of the way first: "Goldfingaaahhh!" Incorporating a stalking snippet of the James Bond Theme, plus wah-wahing brass, plus Dame Shirley's waaay-over-the-top growling delivery, this beauty is a karaoke dream: "It's the kiss of death!"
4 Skyfall, Adele (2012's Skyfall) The second coming of Shirley Bassey, Adele "It Girl" Adkins slow-burns up to an explosive, full-throated finish: "Let the sky fall!" Still hoping for an Adele-Daniel Craig love scene. Hey, could happen: She's on tap for the next Bond song, too.
3 A View to a Kill, Duran Duran (1985's A View to a Kill) "Dance into the fire!" Perhaps the ideal band to cut a Bond tune: puckish British dandies as interested in girls and glam as getting the dirty job done. Best thing about the movie, too.
2 Live and Let Die, Paul McCartney and Wings (1973's Live and Let Die) Beatlesesque in its dramatic conceptual genre shifts (piano-blues opening, explosive arena-rock, silly reggae breaks, orchestral swoon), the Florida Orchestra should turn this one into an over-the-top orchestral monster.
1 Nobody Does It Better, Carly Simon (1977's The Spy Who Loved Me) Written by Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager, and coyly cooed by Simon ("whenever you hold me"), this one was ideal, and ridiculously sexy, accompaniment to those gymnastic and naked opening-credits nymphs. By the way, do yourself a favor and YouTube Radiohead's crazy-good cover version of this. Might be even "better" than the original.
Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.