Nowadays spies (and spy songs??) are very much in fashion.
The movie, Black Widow, has swept into newly reopened theaters (and Disney+, too). Daniel Craig is next in line with the new Bond thriller, No Time To Die. Waiting in the wings is Tom Cruise’s seventh in the lineup of Mission Impossible movies and The King’s Man, starring Ralph Fiennes. There’s Spycraft and The Spy streaming on Netflix. And, of course, new material about people like Edward Snowden and other famous spies continues to be relatively evergreen to audiences of all ages and stages.
Somewhat illogically, this leads us to the songs of the spies. While big hits tied to big movies are commonplace (Goldfinger, Nobody Does It Better, The Spy Who Loved Me, The Pink Panther Theme, and The Theme To Mission Impossible), a list of spy tunes that isn’t tied to a feature film is somewhat more of a scavenger hunt.
Like the cartridges in Bond’s beloved Walther PPK, let’s pull the trigger on each of these tunes and let ’em fly!
SPY SONG TEN: “SPIES” by COLDPLAY
#10: Spies – Wow. Among spy songs, consider this a smooth, cool very Coldplay take on the world of spying. In no particular order: The spies came out of the water. And the spies hide out in every corner. They’re gonna catch us when we sleep. They’re just spies.
But remember … they can’t touch you, no.
It kind of makes us want to triple lock the doors and crawl under the covers with a flashlight and a dog-eared copy of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Let’s just hope the spies in this song can’t find us there.
SPY SONG NINE: “THE SPY” by THE DOORS
#9: The Spy – This song starts out with Jim Morrison singing, “I’m a spy.” So it is a spy song, right? Well, it doesn’t take too long to get to the darker, stranger, more twisted part of the song … like, well … maybe the whole rest of the song: I know everything / Everything you do / Everywhere you go / Everyone you know
Take a moment to look up the reviews for Morrison Hotel, the album that contains the song The Spy. In the most complimentary ways they can, the reviewers use such terms as horrifying, ballsiest, and evil rock. So maybe the guy in the song is a spy. Yes. A creepy, bottom-dwelling, noir kind of spy, for sure. In reality, the song is on this list because it is SO Doors.
And that’s a good thing.
SPY SONG EIGHT: “THE SPY HUNTER” by PROJECT 86
#8: The Spy Hunter – No more Mr. Nice Spy.
As the world turns, perhaps it needs music for a different generation of secret agents. Like Project 86 itself, these spies would be heavy, edgy, rock/post-hardcore / alternative-style spies Give this track a go. Easy to imagine it running along with Kingsman: The Secret Service, on steroids, right?
We caught you plotting murder And now the tide is turning We'll light our souls, heat our bones Upon your empire burning
That’s all sssssssizzle, not Sizzlean!
SPY SONG SEVEN: “SPY” by THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS
#7: Spy – This track by They Might Be Giants is about as far away from the John Barry’s slick Bond scores as a track star is from doing the 100-yard dash on the surface of the moon. However, this song, among spy songs, has its charms and works very well in a quirky, almost Circus of Spies kind of way.
I see you from my spy plane, baby I see you walking on the ground I see you through my spy glasses, baby I can see right through the ground If you want to be a spy Then you must really see And you must really see If you want to be a spy like me
EXTRA: Online Games That Put Music Above All Else – CLICK HERE
SPY SONG SIX: “I SPY FOR THE FBI” by JAMO THOMAS
#6: I Spy For The FBI – I got a X-ray camera hidden in your house / To see what I could see / That man you was kissin’ last night / Definitely wasn’t me Woah!
Like a few other spy songs in our list, this catchy little tune isn’t really about a spy working for the FBI, unless that acronym actually does stand for Female Body Inspector. Fortunately, the jilted singer does employ certifiable investigatory techniques in his efforts to pin the crime on his soon-to-be-ex:
I got the facts in the file / Baby I don’t have to guess / Took that agent’s fingerprints / Right off of your new red dress Woah!
SPY SONG FIVE: “COME SPY WITH ME” by SMOKEY ROBINSON AND THE MIRACLES
#5: Come Spy With Me – We can work by the code of love / Please accept my invitation / Come on, spy with me / We’ll be a brand new spy sensation
This song is certainly no You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me, however even Smokey’s middle-of-the-road songs are transcendent. His voice is smooth as silk. It’s that voice and clever lyrics that place Come Spy With Me so high in the count. I chose to look the other way when I discovered that Come Spy With Me actually is tied to a 1967 film that was so spectacularly dreadful that it has never been released for home viewing. No harm, no foul – right, spy lovers?
SPY SONG FOUR: “THE LONELY SPY” by LORI & THE CHAMELEONS
#4: The Lonely Spy – The Lonely Spy channels a bit of the spirit of the James Bond film From Russia With Love. It has a playful Slavic tone and the male chorus provides a chilling counterpoint to Lori Lartey’s enticing vocals. The lyrics capture the desolation of the games spies played, especially inside the former Soviet Union! Since the song was written in the 1970s, those games were much more close to the bone.
The Red Square winds are blowing Snow drifts from my feet And there's no way out of Russia When the Iron Curtains meet The Kremlin walls are laughing And only I can see There's no way out of Russia For the lonely spy and me
SPY SONG THREE: “JIM DANDY” by LaVern BAKER
#3: Jim Dandy – Sung originally by LaVern Baker and covered by an insane number of other artists, Jim Dandy placed #352 on Rolling Stone’s Greatest Songs of All Time. In 1956 it hit the top of the R&B charts and was #17 on the US pop charts. The song is about Jim Dandy, an action hero who rescues women from impossible predicaments. James Bond does that and he’s totally a spy. So because we’re profiling spy songs, we’ll give old Jim Dandy the benefit of the doubt and sign him up!
Jim Dandy in a submarine / Got a message from a mermaid queen / She was hanging from a fishing line / Jim Dandy didn’t waste no time / Jim Dandy to the rescue / Go, Jim Dandy / Go, Jim Dandy
SPY SONG TWO: “SECRET AGENT MAN” by JOHNNY RIVERS
#2: Secret Agent Man – Secret agent man / Secret agent man / They’ve given you a number / and taken ‘way your name.
Instant classic. Peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1966. It’s all about that spy guy lifestyle and is incredibly easy to hum along to. Amazingly, the song began as a demo by the songwriting team of Sloan and Barri when CBS needed catchy music to replace Live Wire, the song that accompanied the British TV show, Danger Man when it was imported to the US. After the track was accepted, Sloan and Barri expanded it and it became a signature song for singer Johnny Rivers.
SPY SONG ONE: “AGENT DOUBLE-O-SOUL” by EDWIN STARR
#1: Agent Double-O-Soul – The Classic ’60s vibe that launched Edwin Starr‘s career at Ric-Tic records in Motown. It’s really nice to know that Starr sang something other than War. After all, what is it good for? In this case, absolutely somethin’!!!