The James Bond 007 series was originally written by a British author, Ian Fleming, and published by Jonathan Cape in 1953. It is an action spy fiction film. Fleming further wrote twelve novels and two short story collections on the fictional character James Bond 007. When Fleming died in 1964, other authors were hired by the franchise to write the James Bond scripts, such as John Pearson, Kingsley Amis, Raymond Benson, John Gardner, Christopher Wood, and Charlie Higson. Besides the 22 official Bond films to date, the James Bond character has been adapted for TV, radio plays, comic strips, and video games. The last film, Quantum of Solace, was released on 31st October 2008 and the upcoming one, James Bond 23, is expected to be released at some time in 2011.
Bond enthusiasts can identify the films’ staple theme songs from the second beat downwards. The James Bond soundtracks are classic releases in their own right and when incorporated in the film they make up for an aesthetic quality incomparable in most productions. James Bond films bear the James Bond theme which was written by Monty Norman. In most of the 22 films so far, title sequences have been composed and sung by renowned composers and singers. The Bond singers have especially made the series a success, and include personalities such as Tina Turner, Tom Jones, Paul McCartney and Wings, Shirley Bassey, and Sheryl Crow among many others.
After 1962’s Doctor No, the only Bond movie with a purely instrumental soundtrack, is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Even in this film, the ballad “We Have All the Time in the World”, done by Louis Armstrong, is usually classified as amongst James bond soundtracks. The ballad serves as the love song for Bond and Tracy. A similar case happened with the film, From Russia with Love, where an instrumental version was used for the soundtrack, complemented by a lyrical version sung by Matt Monro. The lyrical version of the title song was included in the soundtrack album for the film.
Most James Bond soundtracks share their name with that of the film in which they are featured. ‘Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ for instance was turned down in the production of the film, Thunderball, only because it wasn’t and couldn’t be named after the particular film. The first ever Bond title song to have a distinct title other than that of the film was, “Nobody Does It Better” for The Spy Who Loved Me. Even in this one, the words “the spy who loved me” also appear in the title song’s lyrics.
This title song was in 1977 nominated for ‘Best Original song’ during the Academy Awards, and eventually became runners-up. The entire James Bond series has had eight Academy Awards’ Oscar Nominations, four of which were for the James Bond title songs. Among other James Bond title songs to win after being nominated for best songs in the Academy Awards included “Live and Let Die”, which was written by Paul and Linda McCartney.
The 1998 music for ‘You Only Live Twice’ done by Barry, was soon adapted into ‘Millennium’, a hit song produced and composed by Guy Chambers for Robbie Williams. Its music video featured Williams mentioning James Bond films including Thunderball and From Russia with Love. Again, the video, like most of the Bond films, was fully filmed at Pinewood Studios.
“Another Way to Die”, the latest James Bond title song for Quantum of Solace, was done as a duet between Alicia Keys and Jack White. This was the first of the Bond soundtracks to be a duet. Incidentally, it was also the fourth of James Bond music whose lyrics do not bear the name of the movie. The one and only James Bond title song to make it to number one on the US pop charts was “A View to a Kill”, by Duran. Another first was for Sheena Easton, who has been the only one among Bond singers to appear in a sequel James Bond title Song, that was in, ‘For Your Eyes Only’. Madonna became the only Bond singer with a title song to have an unaccredited role in the movie itself. She appeared as a fencing instructor and sang the title song ‘Die Another Day’.
The 2004 Drum Corps International World Championship saw the Cavaliers and Bugle Corps winning with their 007 entry, a selected remix of James Bond music, composed by David Arnold. This selection was from Die Another Day, GoldenEye, and Tomorrow Never Dies. After the 1963’s song “From Russia With Love” by Matt Monro, all following Bond films feature vocals during the starting credit sequences except On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.