Favourite/Least Favourite Score...

in Music Posts: 34
This is something I recently asked on the James Bond Music Facebook page, so I'd be interested to know your thoughts. What’s your favourite and least favourite score from the composers who have worked on more than one Bond soundtrack?

Let’s start with the Guv’nor, John Barry. I think my top three Barry soundtracks are You Only Live Twice, OHMSS and The Living Daylights, but if I had to pick my favourite, it’s OHMSS. There’s so much to love about this score; the masterful title theme which works so well in the action sequences, the hauntingly beautiful ‘We Have All The Time In The World’ which acts as a leitmotif for Bond and Tracey’s relationship, not to mention other notable cues such as ‘Gumbold’s Safe’ and ‘Journey To Blofeld’s Hideaway’. I also love the inclusion of the Moog synthesiser. There’s very little to fault here.

It feels slightly sacrilegious to say there’s a worst Barry Bond score, but I think his weakest is The Man With The Golden Gun. Like the production of the movie itself, the score was clearly thrown together in a hurry (something I know Barry was very open about). The title song is rather unremarkable, particularly after the tour de force that was ‘Live & Let Die’ and it feels like a pale imitation by comparison. This unfortunately then influences the score as it features throughout. I think the most effective Barry scores are when he uses the title song for a specific purpose (i.e. romance in ‘A View To A Kill’, action in ‘The Living Daylights’). Confusingly the title song in TMWTGG is used for both action and romantic sequences, which I think undermines its value.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some memorable moments; ‘Getting The Bullet’, ‘Goodnight Goodnight’ and ‘Slow Boat To China’ are cues which spring to mind. I also like the way Barry shifts the James Bond theme to a string arrangement to reflect Roger Moore’s lighter portrayal of the role. But we’re somewhere in-between the bombastic brass and wind of ‘Diamonds’ and the symphonic score of ‘Moonraker’ and it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

In terms of the David Arnold scores, it’s a toss-up between The World Is Not Enough and Quantum Of Solace for my favourite score. Given that QoS may end up being Arnold’s final Bond soundtrack, he goes out on a high. It’s a very subtle score, capturing the beauty of the Italian locales with hints of the James Bond theme. I also love the end titles remixed by Four Tet.

TWINE narrowly beats it for me though. Arnold is really starting to find his feet in the franchise, with less reliance on the traditional Bond sound and more experimentation with electronic elements. We also start to see specific musical themes develop for characters, which is something Barry did so effectively. ‘Welcome To Baku’, ‘Snow Business’ and ‘Elektra’s Theme’ are beautiful cues and it’s wonderful to hear the main title woven throughout the score, something conspicuously absent in the films since The Living Daylights.

Arnold’s worst effort in my opinion is Die Another Day. The James Bond theme is used to death, all the electronic elements are overblown and are often misguided in their placement in the film. The score generally feels, just like the movie, excessive and bloated. ‘Welcome To Cuba’ is the only cue I think of fondly.

For Thomas Newman I’d simply say Skyfall is the better score, given that Spectre borrows so liberally from it!

I’d be interested to know your views…


  • edited July 2022 Posts: 5,891
    My favorite Barry score: the older I get, the harder it's to decide, but it's probably between GF, DAF and AVTAK. I love the "shiny" sound of GF, with those silky strings playing sustained notes. DAF, with its brutal and flamboyant action music, and variety of musical styles. AVTAK, with its stately qualities, which extend even to the action music.

    My least favorite Barry score: it's between FRWL, OHMSS and OP. FRWL is a bit sparse-sounding for my taste, though actually I could see it growing on me. I'm a bit less enamoured of the OHMSS main theme than most people, though I'm probably thinking about the instrumentation rather than the composition. OP sounds slightly less inspired than other scores. And yet, despite what I just said, I love all these scores to death. Finding fault with them is like staying on the Royal suite of a hotel and complaining that there is a small black spot on a window.


    My favorite Arnold score: TND, then TWINE. TND makes brilliant use of the Bond theme and Surrender; I also love the Helicopter Ride track, among others. TWINE has Elektra's Theme and further kickass renditions of the Bond theme, among other things. I too like hearing the title song spread throughout the score (or at least, its first three notes).

    My least favorite Arnold score: CR grabs me less than the other scores. I should probably listen to it more.


    My favorite Newman score: Spectre. I know it's a retread of Skyfall, but I like certain versions of cues better than in Skyfall. Especially the recycled parts of Backfire and Tempus Fugit (those are great tracks by the way). Los muertos vivos están, The Eternal City, Silver Wraith, A Reunion... good stuff.

    My least favorite Newman score: Skyfall.


    A couple of comments on your comments:

    I agree; nothing like the Moog synth. Highly pleasing to the ear, especially in its higher-pitched sounds (like in Gumbold's Safe).

    I think Barry used strings in TMWTGG because his music style was changing, not because of Roger Moore. He used them even before Moore in his 1972 concert suite.


    P.S.: I haven't forgotten about the NTTD tracks. I'll post them on the lost music thread within the next month.
  • Last_Rat_StandingLast_Rat_Standing Long Neck Ice Cold Beer Never Broke My Heart
    edited July 2022 Posts: 4,182
    I got excited when I saw this post. I was about to give rip on Bill Conti on a "War and Peace" level size post

    Most favorite Barry score, easily TLD.

    Least favorite Barry score, probably TMWTGG and that's not really on him as I had read that he had very little time to work on it.

    Favorite Arnold score, TND. That is easily top 3 in the whole series.

    Least favorite Arnold. Probably QOS and it is still pretty good
  • Junglist_1985Junglist_1985 Los Angeles
    Posts: 841
    Best Barry: OHMSS
    Worst Barry: TMWTGG

    Best Arnold: QOS
    Worst Arnold: DAD
  • Posts: 5,891
    Don't forget Newman!
  • Last_Rat_StandingLast_Rat_Standing Long Neck Ice Cold Beer Never Broke My Heart
    Posts: 4,182
    mattjoes wrote: »
    Don't forget Newman!

    Ehhh he pretty much hit CTRL+V for Spectre
  • marcmarc Universal Exports
    edited August 2022 Posts: 2,422
    Favorite Barry: MR
    (honorable mentions are AVTAK, YOLT and TLD)
    Least favorite Barry: TB
    (or maybe FRWL, OHMSS)

    Favorite Arnold: CR
    (TND as a close second)
    Worst Arnold: QOS

    SF > SP
  • SIS_HQSIS_HQ Vauxhall Headquarters, London
    edited July 2022 Posts: 2,140
    Favorite Barry Score: It's either GF, TLD or DAF, although these were not my favorites, but I liked the scores in them, Barry nailed them, and these scores offered different moods.

    Mixed feelings Barry Score: OHMSS, while there are some great scores like the Gumbold scene, the escape from Piz Gloria, and his rendition of We Have All The Time In The World , there are some shares of not so good too, like the whole score in the Piz Gloria, the bobsled chase, and the playing of the James Bond theme in the end.
    Same goes to YOLT and OP, there are some good scores and there's some not so good scores. I'm pretty mixed on these scores.

    Least Favorite Barry Score: Thunderball (it gets repetitive and annoying at times, and blending that 007 theme in the Junkanoo music didn't helped.
    Honorable mentions to LALD and TMWTGG.

    Favorite Arnold Score: Those Brosnan Era scores, really liked them, and yes, that includes DAD.

    Least Favorite Arnold Score: CR or QoS, not a fan of those.

    Well, when it comes to Newman, I liked both of the scores he made in Skyfall and SPECTRE.

    When it comes to the one-offs:

    My favorites are Hamlisch and Conti

    I'm mixed towards Zimmer and Kamen, I liked some of their scores, but there's some that fell short on my liking. They're mixed bag for me, the problem was some of their scores didn't quite felt Bondian.

    My Least Favorite: Well, Serra, didn't liked his scores, it sounded cheap and quite a bit corny, it's one of the things why I didn't liked Goldeneye that much.
  • R1s1ngs0nR1s1ngs0n France
    Posts: 1,735
    Objectively speaking OHMSS is Barry’s best score, but YOLT is probably my favorite. His arrangements on that one are sublime.
    I don’t have the scores for OP and AVTAK but from those I own, the one I listen to less frequently is FRWL.
  • Posts: 4,011
    Barry -
    Favourite: DAF
    Least: TMWTGG

    Arnold -
    Favourite: QOS
    Least: CR

    Newman -
    Favourite: Spectre (minus that repetitive use of The Moors)
    Least: Skyfall
Sign In or Register to comment.