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The James Bond Title Songs Never Say Die

Surely you didn't forget that Lulu sang a Bond title song? "The Man with the Golden Gun."
Evening Standard/Getty Images
Surely you didn't forget that Lulu sang a Bond title song? "The Man with the Golden Gun."

Theaters around the country await the latest addition to the James Bond collection: a new version of Casino Royale.

It's being promoted as all new -- a new Bond (Daniel Craig), a new angle, new stunts, new "Bond girls." Yet in one way this new James Bond film will also prepetuate a much older Hollywood tradition: The theme song.

And we're not just talking about the familiar, driving James Bond theme. More than 20 times, Bond films have opened with an original song under the title credits -- something that used to be a Hollywood staple and is now a rarity.

Featured performers have ranged from Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones to Duran Duran and Madonna (and don't forget Sheena Easton, Sir Paul McCartney and Wings, Carly Simon and Sheryl Crow).

Movie-music maven Trudeau -- Andy Trudeau -- and Andrea Seabrook discuss the history of a highly specific genre.

Trudeau has even broken the songs down into three handy categories:

Story Songs (such as Shirley Bassey's wonderful version of "Goldfinger"); Bond Songs (including Nancy Sinatra's "You Only Live Twice"); and Nonsense Songs (A-ha's "The Living Daylights" makes that list.)

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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