I am in a big Bond mood this week, perhaps due to the release of SPECTRE. I've been going back and listening to old James Bong movie themes, including some that I had never really paid attention to before.When it comes to the bombastic John Barry numbers, Shirley Bassey's "Goldfinger" in unimpeachable. In terms of pop songs as Bond themes, nothing can really top Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die" or Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better." I think there's a lot of general consensus out there about these points.
However, there are quite a few lesser known Bond themes deserving of recognition, perhaps none more so than Nancy Sinatra's interpretation of "You Only Live Twice." That 1967 flick marked the end of Sean Connery's first run as Bond, and includes a now embarrassing plot element where he attempts to pass as Japanese.
Perhaps because of its Asian setting, the theme incorporates elements of Eastern music into it, but manages to do so without sounding Orientalist. I really love it because it manages to incorporate some disparate elements together. It starts with a beautiful string figure, reaching a high note as it crescendos, then going soft for a gorgeous, descending melody. As Nancy Sinatra's sultry voice comes in she is accompanied now by a fuzzed out guitar mimicking the strings. It's lush and gorgeous, evoking the same effortless cool personified by Sean Connery in his Bond films. Despite their politics and inherent silliness, I still get a kick out of them.