James Bond: The 10 Best Theme Songs, Ranked
James Bond has been a cinematic institution for almost 60 years, and a big part of the franchise’s enduring success is the music. Each new Bond movie has brought us a new theme tune, adding up to a remarkable songbook that reflects the changing trends in popular music over the decades, whilst also honouring an ongoing tradition. There’s no mistaking a Bond theme song – and these, in our humble opinion, are the ten best the series has produced so far.
10. The Living Daylights – A-ha
Norwegian pop trio A-ha may be best remembered for their worldwide smash hit Take On Me, but they’re also responsible for one of the best James Bond theme songs of them all, for Timothy Dalton‘s 007 debut The Living Daylights in 1987.
Co-written by guitarist Pål Waaktaar and legendary Bond composer John Barry, the song may be inescapably of 80s origin with its synth-driven sound, but it’s also got that timeless bombastic Bond quality in abundance.
9. Skyfall – Adele
Beloved English singer-songwriter Adele scored a huge hit with the title track to Daniel Craig‘s third outing as 007, Skyfall. Critics widely hailed the 2012 film as potentially the best in the entire series, and praise was equally high for the theme song.
On top of being awarded a Grammy and a Brit Award, Skyfall is notable for being the very first Bond theme to win Best Original Song at the Oscars.
8. A View to a Kill – Duran Duran
A View to a Kill also holds a rare milestone, as the only Bond theme to date to reach the number one spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
7. GoldenEye – Tina Turner
When Pierce Brosnan took over as Bond on 1995’s GoldenEye, it marked a return to the classic, over-the-top 007 sensibility after the more grounded Timothy Dalton era. This point was hammered home with GoldenEye’s wonderfully melodramatic theme song.
6. Diamonds Are Forever – Shirley Bassey
1971’s Diamonds Are Forever marked Sean Connery’s last (official) appearance as Bond. Not unlike A View to a Kill, the film itself tends not to be considered a franchise highlight – but the accompanying theme song (once again composed by John Barry) is the stuff of legend.
The second of three Bond themes performed by the iconic Welsh songstress Shirley Bassey, Diamonds Are Forever is an unforgettable track. In more recent years it’s been sampled by a number of musicians, most famously Kanye West on his song Diamonds from Sierra Leone.
5. You Only Live Twice – Nancy Sinatra
Best known for being the daughter of Frank Sinatra and having some Boots that were Made for Walkin’, Nancy Sinatra also lent her voice to the theme song of 1967’s You Only Live Twice, Sean Connery’s fifth film as 007. 32 years later, Robbie Williams would use elements of the song on his hit single Millennium.
Interestingly, the younger Sinatra was given the job at the behest of her legendary father, who Bond producer Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli had originally asked to perform the song.
4. Live and Let Die – Paul McCartney and Wings
Roger Moore’s introduction as Bond in 1973’s Live and Let Die represented a bold new direction for 007. With this in mind, the producers approached Paul McCartney (who had not long since parted ways with The Beatles) to provide the first James Bond rock song.
Co-written by McCartney’s wife Linda and performed by their band Wings, Live and Let Die remains well-loved by fans of both Bond, and rock. In 1991, it would be covered by notorious hard rockers Guns N’ Roses.
3. Nobody Does It Better – Carly Simon
1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me was Roger Moore’s third outing as 007, and it’s widely considered the very best film made in the Moore era. Hand in hand with this, Carly Simon’s title track Nobody Does It Better is undoubtedly the best Bond theme song of the 1970s.
Amusingly, Carly Simon (otherwise best known for her 1972 hit You’re So Vain) was selected to sing the track after co-writer Carole Bayer Sager remarked on how “incredibly vain” the lyrics were.
2. We Have All the Time in the World – Louis Armstrong
1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (second 007 actor George Lazenby’s sole film in the role) was an unusual entry in the Bond series, venturing into hitherto unexplored regions of genuine emotion. This comes across in John Barry and Hal David’s song We Have All the Time in the World.
So great is the emotional resonance of the track as performed by Louis Armstrong, it became the only Bond theme song to be used again in a later film in the series, featuring prominently in Daniel Craig’s 007 swan song No Time to Die.
1. Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey
1964’s third Bond movie Goldfinger was the entry with which the filmmakers pretty much nailed the 007 formula which endures to this day – and a big part of that is the theme song. Composed by John Barry, and performed with remarkable bravado by Shirley Bassey, Goldfinger is truly the gold standard for Bond themes.
Brash, operatic and unforgettable, Goldfinger is one of the most widely played and covered of all Bond themes. It also became the root of legal action on a later Bond theme song, 1989’s Licence to Kill, which borrowed Goldfinger’s horn section melody without initially giving credit to the original songwriters.