The James Bond movie franchise has made over $6 billion  at the box office since the release of its first movie, Dr. No, in 1962. All the Ian Fleming novels, the spinoffs, the video games, and countless paraphernalia helped create an incredibly profitable cultural icon in 007 .

Each entry in the Bond franchise creates a lot of expectations from its audience. For fans, getting to read the “Bond Is Back!” headlines gets fans excited for the film and all the activity surrounding its release.  The theme song for each movie generates an intense excitement, not just from the quality of the song but also from the celebrity chosen to write and perform it. Ever since Monty Norman and John Barry composed and recorded the first, and extremely recognizable theme song, over 20 other well known artists have recorded James Bond themes.

While each song could be classified in a genre, the ‘bond theme’ is almost a genre in itself. Bond producers and composers are responsible for finding artists with the right talents to create songs that can be as popular and successful as the films themselves. For the upcoming film SPECTRE, Sam Smith has been selected as the individual. Smith joins artists such as Alicia Keys, Paul McCartney, Duran Duran, Adele, and others who have been involved in James Bond themes before.

Shirley Bassey, listed as one of the best artists of the 20th century by numerous British publications, recorded the theme for the 1964 film Goldfinger.The “Goldfinger” theme was Bassey’s first and only song to peak on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 List. Her performance of “Goldfinger” became the gold standard of Bond songs. With trumpets paying homage to the original Bond score by John Barry, Bassey’s incredible voice, and lyrics that emphasize the aptitude of “Mr. Goldfinger,” the blueprint for great Bond music was drawn. Bassey’s performance was so stellar that she was invited back to record two other Bond theme songs, “Diamonds Are Forever” and “Moonraker,” becoming the only artist to record multiple themes.

John Barry, who has composed more Bond films than anyone else, created the classic Bond trumpet sounds. Years later, David Arnold, a former Bond film composer, established what he calls the “suspense motif,” which is orchestrated with strings, Barry’s blaring trumpets, sounds from a snare drum and a wide range of sounds from a piano. The “suspense motif” creates a tense emotional state for the listener.

Adele was chosen in 2012 to perform the Oscar-winning original song “Skyfall” the year after her rather somber chart-topping and multi-platinum selling album “21” was released. Similarly, Sam Smith’s “Writing’s On The Wall,” the theme song for SPECTRE, topped the charts after its release on September 25. Smith was chosen  shortly after his mega-hit “Stay With Me” topped the charts in 2014. It didn’t take long after the release for Smith’s Bond theme to peak at number one on the UK’s Top 100 Singles Chart.

Bond music goes beyond just theme songs. The Bond franchise has been nominated for, and won, numerous Oscars, including best original song, best sound mixing and best sound effects. Since Dr. No’s release and the composition of Barry’s original score, to Arnold’s suspense motif to Smith’s number one hit with the 2015 release of SPECTRE,  James Bond is a franchise not only rich in films, novels, videogames and short stories, but also in music.


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