One of the best parts of every Bond movie is the theme song during the opening credits, and there have been so many gems over the years, so here are the top 10 best James Bond theme songs of all time.
10. “You Only Live Twice” – Nancy Sinatra
In 1967’s You Only Live Twice, Nancy Sinatra became the first American to sing the theme song for a James Bond film, but still did a sterling job.
The film may not have been a stunner, but Sinatra’s slow-moving theme deviates from the more operatic qualities of the previous films, but is calming and simultaneously mesmerising enough to tap along to and enjoy as the credits roll.
9. “A View To A Kill” – Duran Duran
Roger Moore’s final outing as the super spy in 1985’s A View To A Kill wasn’t hailed like some of his best efforts, but the theme song, by Duran Duran, was a groundbreaking tune.
Apart from being the first Bond theme to top the charts, it also changed the dynamic of what a theme song could be, putting 007 firmly in the 1980s with an era-appropriate song with a fast beat, disco sounds and cool lyrics that make it a lot of fun to listen to.
8. “Die Another Day” – Madonna
2002’s Die Another Day was generally not praised by critics and Bond fans, and nor was the painful cameo by Madonna, who sang the theme song.
However, that song isn’t as bad as everyone says the rest of the film is. In fact, it’s a modern, energetic, techno pop song that’s totally different to every other Bond theme ever made. Yes, it may not have been so successful, but it’s the most unique theme from the 24 films, and is still pretty enjoyable anyway.
7. “GoldenEye” – Tina Turner
1995’s GoldenEye is seen generally as the last classic Bond film, before moving into the modern era where seriousness and action trumps class, innuendo and comedy.
And the theme song, sung by Tina Turner, mirrors that perfectly. A slow-moving and dramatic tune that plays well to Bond’s most iconic sounds, and in some sense, also paying tribute to Goldfinger from 1964 (more on that later). It may not be a hugely energetic and thrilling song, but it’s a classic and a beloved one all the same.
6. “Thunderball” – Tom Jones
The theme for the fourth Bond film, ‘Thunderball‘, is a brilliant example of why we love the classic era of 007: its drama, its thrills and its sheer class.
Having Tom Jones behind the microphone is fantastic, and the lyrics, all about Bond’s heroism, are great to listen to. But what makes this such a classic is that it plays along to the original Bond theme in the background, and, with Tom Jones’ vocals on top, has that iconic operatic feel to it.
5. “Nobody Does It Better” – Carly Simon
The theme for 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me may have a different name, but is an absolute classic in both Bond and music history.
It doesn’t really feel like a Bond theme, being so relaxing and easy-going to listen to, and is arguably now known better on its own than as a Bond theme, but the suggestive lyrics, subtle drama hidden beneath the calm atmosphere, and the beautiful singing by Carly Simon still point to its class as a great theme song for James Bond.
4. “Diamonds Are Forever” – Shirley Bassey
The voice of classic James Bond, Shirley Bassey recorded three theme songs from 1964-1979, and Diamonds Are Forever is easily one of the most iconic.
There’s almost nothing classier than diamonds, and no-one classier than Bassey behind the microphone, so you’ve got that criteria perfectly satisfied in this theme, but it’s also the again suggestive lyrics and high drama of the song that make it a true classic of the genre.
3. “Live And Let Die” – Paul McCartney & Wings
The theme for 1973’s Live And Let Die is definitely one of those that has sustained itself as not just a great Bond tune, but a brilliant song all on its own.
One of the few James Bond themes that weaves in and out of slow-moving drama and fast-paced thrills, Live And Let Die is so much fun. The lyrics are as cool as ice, the instrumental break is energetic and exciting, and despite the grammatical issues with the line: ‘In this ever-changing world in which we live in’, it’s still a fantastic toe-tapper.
2. “Skyfall” – Adele
The Daniel Craig era of Bond hasn’t had many great themes, but his third film, Skyfall, bucks that trend, thanks to a stunning number by Adele.
It feels just as classic as some of the early themes, with a cross between huge operatic drama and haunting eeriness. Although, being a modern song, it may not feature the same sort of classically suggestive lyrics that others do, it’s still a hugely impressive piece of music, and will definitely be remembered as one of the greatest Bond songs ever made.
1. “Goldfinger” – Shirley Bassey
When I said there was almost nothing classier than diamonds earlier on, I was referring to gold. And ‘Goldfinger’, sung again by Shirley Bassey, easily trumps ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ and the rest by miles.
There is no song as associated with Bond as Goldfinger, because it simply captures absolutely everything that makes the series so iconic. Class, drama, intrigue, danger, excitement and everything in between are what this theme brings across, and, even as an individual song, it’s still an incredible piece to listen to, full of everything that you want from a great theme, and that’s why it’s easily the number one of all time.