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John Barry, 1933-2011.

John Barry, 1933-2011. (photo)

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This is the sound of cool:

Any man who has put on a tux, or ordered a shaken martini, or tried to learn how the hell to play baccarat has hummed it. It’s almost impossible to hear that iconic “James Bond Theme” and not pretend you’re holding a gun to your cheek, the way Connery and Moore did. That music is credited to composer Monty Norman, but the guy who arranged it and conducted the orchestra that first recorded it (and argued for decades that he, in fact, was the guy who created it) was John Barry, who died Sunday at the age of 77.

The Bond theme is truly is one of the most perfect pieces of film music ever written. It encompasses all the moods of James Bond from quiet and sultry, the perfect accompaniment to a life-or-death card game, to loud and bombastic, just what you need for a raid on a super-villain’s mountain fortress. It’s been tinkered with over the decades — a splash of strings here, a smothering of synthesizers there — but the original version, written by Norman and arranged by Barry, is timeless. It can be changed, but not improved upon.

Norman won several court cases over the right to be called the creator of the Bond theme, but Barry surely deserves at least some of the credit for sculpting it and for scoring eleven of the Bond films that followed. The most famous piece of music associated with Bond after the theme song is “Goldfinger,” which Barry wrote with lyricists Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse.

The Bond themes — every movie must have one, preferably named after the movie itself — are one of the series’ most charmingly nonsensical tropes. Why the hell do we need a song called “The Man With the Golden Gun?” Writing pieces of music to fit phrases like “Thunderball” or “Moonraker” must have been impossible, but Barry was one of the best at it. Take “Diamonds Are Forever,” with insane vocals by Shirley Bassey.

Barry had a long career beyond the world of 007 and won five Academy Awards, one for best song (“Born Free”) and four for his scores for “Dances With Wolves,” “Out of Africa,” “The Lion in Winter,” and “Born Free.” But he’ll be remembered for Bond. Whether he wrote it or not, he helped define the sound of cool.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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