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"Music Geek" Ranks Bond Movie Themes

All Things Considered, November 14, 2008 - Drew Kerr's five-word review of the new James Bond movie's theme song by Alicia Keys and Jack White: "Won't break bad song streak."

While Kerr works in public relations by day, his alter ego on the Web is Total Music Geek. He has taken it upon himself to rate the many individual James Bond movies' theme songs.

For Kerr, a "classic" Bond movie song is made up of several elements.

"It has to be seductive, and obviously have a spy-ish sound, usually that minor key," he says. "I think, in a way, you have to honor John Barry, who created most of the James Bond music through the years with his sort of 'horn stabs,' and the way he imagined the theme in how these songs would sound."

Kerr declares Madonna's "Die Another Day" the worst Bond title song of all time.

"It's such a mish-mash of telephone-like vocals, these jagged samples, and no melody at all, and sort of an S&M undertone," he says. "Besides not sounding like any Bond song, it's just a bad song."

Kerr places "Thunderball" by Tom Jones at No. 4.

"Talk about the epitome of macho," Kerr says. "Tom Jones had this amazing voice, and if anyone ever doubted what goes on in that man's lungs, just listen to the end of the song, when he just brings up that word 'thunderball' and extends it for what seems like an eternity."

In a surprise pick, Kerr lists "The Living Daylights" by a-ha, composed by John Barry, at No. 3.

"It just sounds like a wonderful blend," Kerr says. "It's a great, exciting, very melodic song."

No. 2 is Shirley Bassey singing "Goldfinger." Kerr calls the track "the blueprint for what would be a James Bond song, really the flagship."

And at No. 1: Nancy Sinatra's "You Only Live Twice." Kerr says it fits all the usual Bond criteria, and goes further.

"It also had that existential thing a lot of Bond movies had," he says. "There's something very emotional and cutting about that song."

Kerr says that the current "dark days" of Bond title songs set in during the late 1980s.

"It's very hard to write a hit song," he says. If it weren't, "We'd all be writing James Bond songs."

Drew Kerr's Rankings
1. "You Only Live Twice," by Nancy Sinatra

2. "Goldfinger," by Shirley Bassey

3. "The Living Daylights," by a-ha

4. "Thunderball," by Tom Jones

5. "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," by The John Barry Orchestra

6. "A View to a Kill," by Duran Duran

7. "From Russia With Love," by Matt Munro

8. "Nobody Does It Better," by Carly Simon

9. "Live and Let Die," by Paul McCartney and Wings

10. "Diamonds Are Forever," by Shirley Bassey

11. "All Time High," by Rita Coolidge

12. "Goldeneye," by Tina Turner

13. "For Your Eyes Only," by Sheena Easton

14. "You Know My Name," by Chris Cornell

15. "Moonraker," by Shirley Bassey

16. "Tomorrow Never Dies," by Sheryl Crow

17. "The World Is Not Enough," by Garbage

18. "The Man With the Golden Gun," by Lulu

19. "License To Kill," by Gladys Knight

20. "Die Another Day," by Madonna