The James Bond Theme Song That Legendary 007 Singer Shirley Bassey Hates

Roger Moore making a face of discomfort in a centrifuge in Moonraker.
(Image credit: Danjaq, LLC and MGM)

If there was ever a name that was synonymous with the amazing history of James Bond movies and their theme songs, two candidates always tend to jump to the front of the line. Obviously, composer John Barry is one of them, as he scored the majority of the 007 movies from Dr. No until The Living Daylights

However, the other person that’s inexorably linked to that tradition would have to be legendary singer Dame Shirley Bassey, who sang three separate Bond songs in that same window. And believe it or not, there’s one tune out of those three that she absolutely hates.

The 007 Theme Dame Shirley Bassey Absolutely Hates

You’ve probably made your educated guess as to which song doesn’t cut it in Dame Bassey’s eyes. But in case you had any doubt, The Sound of 007 documentary on Prime Video (opens in new tab) cleared that matter up once and for all. In a piece of archival interview footage used in director Mat Whitecross’ film, Shirley Bassey flat-out disavowed this James Bond theme: 

[Moonraker], it didn’t work. Hated it. That’s why I’ve never sung it in my act.

Admittedly, "Moonraker" doesn’t have one of the stronger 007 themes from Roger Moore’s era. Though having said that, it’s not a horrible song, and works much better than it has any right to. The huge reason for that is because Dame Shirley Bassey commits to singing about whatever a “moonraker” is just as well as she sings about diamonds or golden fingered villains. What makes Bassey’s disparaging remarks about the track composer John Barry and songwriter Hal David had put together all the more valid is the path she took to being saddled with the duties of singing it.

The Crazy Path The Moonraker Theme Took To Becoming A Reality

Yet another James Bond opening that saw a bit of turmoil taking place during its creation, "Moonraker" went through quite a few hands before Dame Shirley Bassey landed the gig. In addition to Frank Sinatra being approached for the tune, fellow crooner Johnny Mathis and pop star Kate Bush were part of this twisty path to 007 history.

The result saw Bassey offered to record Moonraker’s big theme in a time crunch, which resulted in her never really taking to the song. Again, it’s not hard to see why she wouldn’t exactly latch onto this melody on a personal level, as this sounds like more of a gig for hire than a plan for success. Even in The Sound of 007 highlight reel from the recent Royal Albert Hall concert, Dame Shirley only performed her Sean Connery era Bond themes from Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever

While Shirley Bassey’s opinion on her final James Bond theme tune is one that’s not exactly controversial, there are undoubtedly still supporters that would cut it some slack. That’s the nature of a 60-year old fandom such as this, which inspires many opinions in its many followers. 

Music is the name of the tune in both The Sound of 007’s documentary film and concert highlight special. Those programs, as well as most of the James Bond film library, are available to those readers with a Prime Video subscription

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.