There are plenty of reasons to be excited about Skyfall, the newest installment in the venerable James Bond movie franchise (fifty years and counting): Daniel Craig is back as Bond, Javier Bardem as the new Bond villain, Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes bringing it all together with wit and grace. But our first indication that this one might be something special came a few weeks back, when we got a listen to Adele’s moody, smoky theme song for the film. It’s got a big, brassy sound that immediately recalls Shirley Bassey, who became the signature voice of the Bond movie theme songs (and while she only did three of them, that’s two more than anyone else), and digging up Bassey’s tunes sent us down a YouTube rabbit hole of Bond themes. As you might expect, over the course of fifty years there have been some timeless, immortal songs; there have been others that, to put it charitably, haven’t aged quite so well. After the jump, we’ve picked our five best, four worst, and one in between of the Bond themes thus far. Some controversies may erupt, so by all means, throw in your two cents in the comments.
“Goldfinger,” Shirley Bassey
The first (and best) of the Bassey trilogy — slinky, big, brassy, with the singer’s distinctive vibrato on full display, and a killer belt on that last note. Pair it up with one of the most distinctive of the series’ memorable title sequences, and you’ve got the song that set the table for all Bond themes that followed.