6. “Another Way To Die”
From Quantum of Solace; Performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys
I understand this is a controversial one among fans, but I personally love every second. It’s such a vastly different opening than anything else in the Bond canon, embracing an as-yet unexplored musical style and modern technology in ways the franchise, up until the Daniel Craig years, had largely shied away from.
White and Keys absolutely kill it on the song itself, playing and singing with a ferocious, invigorating intensity that I can never get enough of. The lyrics, while not spectacular or particularly insightful, are at least specific to James Bond’s actual lifestyle, recognizing and underlining the danger he lives with every day. The visuals are even better, highly stylized, three-dimensional, and extremely memorable. It’s still recognizably Bond, with silhouette-based imagery and naked women aplenty, but the distinctive desert landscape and sense of all-consuming danger set it apart. The sequence does a lot of what classic Bond openings did well, while improving upon and advancing from what was possible in previous titles. Visually, I think all Bond openings should strive to give viewers something new and imaginative, and that’s exactly what “Another Way To Die” achieves. It’s a definite favorite.
5. “Nobody Does It Better”
From The Spy Who Loved Me; Performed by Carly Simon
One of the most iconic Bond songs also makes for one of the very best title sequences. Starting slowly atop images of Moore and other silhouettes jumping, as though on a trampoline, against a British flag background, the song explodes into a big, epic love ballad, a truly memorable and accomplished song that stands among the best of the franchise’s compositions. A very different kind of song than had been seen in the series up to then, “Nobody Does It Better” is much more laid back and romantic, swooning and sweeping with an excellent sense of pace and energy.
This is one case, in fact, where the song is so darn good that I hardly care how forgettable the visuals are. It’s certainly a handsome sequence, but there are better ones out there. The star here is the stirring instrumentation and Simon’s beautiful vocals, and though the song doesn’t need to be about James Bond, it works as a very nice summation of the public’s attitude towards 007: Even at his very worst – and the Moore years were arguably a creative low point – nobody does this particular brand of entertainment better than Bond. A really nice love anthem, to the series as much as anything else.
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