Today, hyper-popular balladeer Adele released her first new material since her blockbuster 21 album: it’s the theme song from Skyfall, the new James Bond film. Since the Shirley Bassey days, the Bond theme has been a vaunted, if very weird, tradition (after all, most movies don’t come with pop singles). But the anachronism of a lengthy credit sequence is earned, as the opening tunes very often outclass the films themselves. Here are five favorites–and one that Adele will almost certainly outdo.
“Nobody Does It Better,” Carly Simon, from The Spy Who Loved Me
A perfectly saccharine 1970s Marvin Hamlisch that has next to nothing to do with spying, but for a shoehorned-in reference to the movie’s title in the first verse. It could have been awful–but why’d it have to be so good?
“Goldfinger,” Shirley Bassey, from Goldfinger
The haughty pronounciation of “Gold-fing-ah” and the shrieking of “Gold” at the end make this the most manic, and best, of Ms. Bassey’s singles.
“The World is Not Enough,” Garbage, from The World is Not Enough
Both operatic and weirdly icy, as fit the high-baroque, technology-obsessed Pierce Brosnan era.
“A View to a Kill,” Duran Duran, from A View to a Kill
The very opposite of Shirley Bassey’s timeless diva-belting, this is about as 1980s as it gets. It also makes the most gleefully nonsensical use of the movie’s title out of any of these songs: “All we see is a view to a kill” is a lyric wallowing in how little it’s trying.
“Die Another Day,” Madonna, from Die Another Day
Sorry, it’s true (or at least arguable): this is the best or at least most crazily committed thing that Madonna has done this century, and it gets special dispensation for that alone (most artists’ Bond tunes, Paul McCartney, are tossed-off).
“Another Way to Die,” Jack White and Alicia Keys, from Quantum of Solace
Speaking of just tossing off a subpar single: you can practically hear Alicia Keys counting her money as she sings.