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We’re all about cross-cultural synergy and pseudoscience here at the Swarm, so what better way to kick off Bond’s return to America than with Grantland‘s breakdown of the best Bond themes? Writer Vijith Assar used the rigorous metrics of “strength”, “reach” and “cohesion” to figure out exactly who the bestest is…

The cleverest of the Bond pop songs are undoubtedly those that seamlessly incorporate a very specific melody, known among Bond music enthusiasts as the “suspense motif” — this is the slinky chromatic line that kicks in during the main title music, after the horns stop. If you listen carefully, you can hear it in the background at the beginning of the verses in Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger,” for example. This is what everyone thinks of as “the James Bond theme,” Adele and all her predecessors notwithstanding. Constructing your pop song around the mathematical constraints of the suspense motif is the most fascinating compositional approach, but there are also other ways to “sound like a Bond theme,” so we’ll simply assign a third score here for cohesion, which is the extent to which a given song cooperates with the rest of the series.




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