Spy music is generally music in the style of classic spy movies like the James Bond franchise. These are generally orchestral or lounge jazz pieces with an exotic feel designed to excite and stimulate the listener. Spy music pieces used in spy films are often designed to coordinate with the action on the screen, with sound effects and orchestra hits to highlight major plot changes and action scenes. It is characterized by an open smooth beat with a suave bass line complemented by short, staccato hits from wind instruments. Spy music can also include songs that are about spies.
The style of most spy music is often similar to lounge jazz with a touch of surf rock. Instruments used in this type of music can vary, but generally include orchestral percussion with a guitar, some wind instruments like flutes or brass instruments, and some strings. This genre often has female city blues or lounge singers on its tracks. One of the most well-known singers in spy music is Shirley Bassey, who is most famous for her work in the theme songs to the James Bond classic film "Goldfinger." In contrast with the orchestral spy music of years past, newer music is often largely electronic with a fast beat, resembling the music found in most action flicks.
Since spies have long popular subjects of music and movies, some popular music artists have written songs about spies. Some of these songs are written for spy movies, and some were written for the sake of writing about spies. One famous song about spies is “Secret Agent Man,” a song that was written by Steve Barri and P. F. Sloan. This song was most famously performed by Johnny Rivers for the British series “Danger Man." This song has been recorded by many other artists, including crooner Mel Tormé and the 1980s art music act Devo.
The smooth, driving beat of spy music is different from the darker, more dissonant sound found in detective music. Detective music is a related genre that generally appears on movies and television shows about police and private detectives. This type of music usually only involves one or two instruments, rather than the orchestral groups used to make spy music, and the instruments often play a simple but memorable thematic theme. A popular example of detective music is the theme to “Alfred Hitchcock Presents," a mystery show that ran on television in the 1950s and 1960s.