James Bond is an iconic spy. No matter which actor plays the character, movie buffs just cannot get over the charm and thrill Bond singlehandedly brings to the
screen. However, if you feel that Bond movies do well on the box office just because of the protagonist’s dapper looks, thrilling story line, and action-packed sequences, you are mistaken. The soundtrack of the Bond movies has played a pivotal role in contributing to their worldwide success. No other thriller and spy genre movie soundtracks and theme songs have become as famous as those of the Bond movies.
Personally I think most of the recent theme songs have pretty much been shit songs for a long time now. Note how the composers stopped being consistent around the times the songs began to suck. It seems like the franchise owners pretty much stopped overseeing the quality of the music, opting to pick the flavor of the day, regardless if the performers understood what makes a Bond song memorable. Chris Cornell was the last good one… he got it right. It’s not that all the theme songs have been phenomenal; some songs couldn’t deliver the thrill that we resonate with a Bond movie while some were so good that they raised the bar for future theme songs.
Please note that we are just reviewing the official Bond movies’ theme songs, and omitting those that didn’t make it to the final cut. Such as Radiohead’s theme song for Spectre wasn’t used in the movie; therefore, we didn’t rank it.
So, here is the ranking the top 26 theme songs of the 007 franchise for you, from worst to best.
#26. Title Song: “No Time to Die”
Composed by: Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell
Performed by: Billie Eilish
Film: No Time to Die, 2020
Billie Eilish finally broke the stereotype associated with the Bond movie theme songs, that is, these are supposed to be haunting and somber. In our opinion, slow-paced songs have only brought disappointment and yawns. In contrast, this track by the young singer Billie Eilish has filled the song with unanswered questions that only pique your curiosity. It gives an overall mysterious identity to the musical piece. Our verdict- this song will leave you wanting to know more as she targets your inquisitiveness with her laid-back singing, which contradicts the idea of having “No Time to Die.”
#25. Title Song: “Writing’s on the Wall”
Composed by: Sam Smith, Jimmy Napes
Performed by: Sam Smith
Film: Spectre, 2015
Usually, a theme song can have two approaches- it could be an upbeat track or melancholic ballad. Unfortunately, Smith’s composition is neither. It is not just slow but extremely somber and sad. That’s now how a Bond theme song is supposed to be, right? We want poppy tracks, something that reflects the same passion, excitement, and thrill that Bond movies are all about. However, what Smith gives us is just high-pitched whining and not crooning. The piano and strings merely cannot save a disaster of a song. Just check out the self-pitying lyrics. Our verdict- not at all an exciting song by any means despite that it won an Oscar.
24. Title Song: “Die Another Day”
Composed by: Madonna, Mirwais Ahmadzai
Performed by: Madonna
Film: Die Another Day, 2002
Die Another Day is, in our opinion, a pop song that is a decent fit for a spy movie but not a Bond movie. It did ok on the pop charts, probably attributed to the popularity of the movie. With the sensational vocals of Madonna, the Queen of Pop, and the enthralling violin, sci-fi electric, and a psychological thriller theme, this song was bound to become a hit. Our verdict- Madonna went rogue and created a masterpiece that the whole world would remember as one of the best Bond themes ever.
23. Title Song: “Another Way to Die”
Composed by: Jack White
Performed by: Jack White, Alicia Keys
Film: Quantum of Solace, 2008
If White and Keys had sung the theme song separately, the impact would have been far superior. Although Another Way to Die isn’t a bad theme song, but it just doesn’t meet the expectations we have from a Bond movie soundtrack. It somehow helps us understand why Agent 007 works alone. Our verdict- this song is disjointed, unsatisfying, and jarring.
22. Title Song: “Skyfall”
Composed by: Adele, Paul Epworth
Performed by: Adele
Film: Skyfall, 2012
There couldn’t be anyone as suitable to sing this track than Adele. Her powerful voice with her mezzo-soprano vocal range gives Adele and undue advantage over the other singers, and Skyfall is proof of that. She relishes the drama in the song and hits the high notes with such perfection, jolting people out of a trance. Our verdict- Adele can make you dance around her pinky finger just by her music, and Skyfall is its perfect example.
21. Title Song: “Tomorrow Never Dies”
Composed by: Sheryl Crow, Michel Froom
Performed by: Sheryl Crow
Film: Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997
This theme song’s unstable opening has a magnetic energy that draws you in with its high and low musical orchestra working like an alternating current. The song will keep you in stupor throughout with Crow’s steady vocals. Overly enthusiastic sentences are nothing new to bond themes and create a scenario of gloom rather than energetic. Our verdict- this song is one of the perfect prototypes of how to create a great James Bond theme song.
20. Title Song: “GoldenEye”
Composed by: Bono, The Edge
Performed by: Tina Turner
That brief moment of an interlude as Tina Turner pauses after “Time….time is not on my side.” is what encompasses perfection. As Turner lets the instruments take over, she thrives over the power she holds and her inhumane capabilities. Our verdict- the song scores full points in creating an environment of thrill and curiosity while captivating us even if it makes us a part of the ungodly things to come.
19. Title Song: “The World Is Not Enough”
Composed by: David Arnold, Don Black
Performed by: Garbage
Film: The World Is Not Enough, 1999
Everything that glitters is not gold. Hence James Bond’s life isn’t exactly what it is made up to be. The glamour, the wealth, the thrill, the ladies, and the mouthwatering symbolic drinks make it look like he has it all. However, in reality, he has a sad life filled with loneliness and grief. The World is Not Enough is a song that highlights the sadness that surrounds James Bond’s life. “The world is not enough / But it is such a perfect place to start, my love” these lyrics hauntingly express how wretched a life this iconic spy lives. Our verdict- the song is outstanding, and the background music fueled by the orchestra and guitar only adds to its tragic vibes.
18. Title Song: “All Time High”
Composed by: John Barry, Tim Rice, Stephen Short
Performed by: Rita Coolidge
Film: Octopussy, 1983
This song is uninspiring and downright bland. No wonder it couldn’t create any good vibes among Bond fans and was quickly forgotten. When we listened to this track, all we could think of is that it should have been the theme of a b-grade sitcom. And, the lyrics are simply cruel. Listen carefully to the song to know what we mean. How could anyone come up with lyrics like this, that too, for a Bond movie? We think that it is too romantic for a spy thriller genre movie. Our verdict- not a praiseworthy effort from the composer and the singer.
17. Title Song: “The Man With the Golden Gun”
Composed by: John Barry, Don Black
Performed by: Lulu
Film: The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974
The Man with the Golden Gun has to be the gaudiest songs ever produced by the Bond franchise. The track has been appreciated tremendously and criticized horribly by people, creating a divide between the two fan bases. The supposed assassin and his gun are the targets for this song, the beat of which is then emphasized with corny boasts. Our verdict- this isn’t exactly what we expected from the bond series, but the ludicrous song needs to be enjoyed by letting go and just having fun.
16. Title Song: “From Russia With Love”
Composed by: John Barry, Lionel Bart, Monty Norman
Performed by: Matt Monro
Film: From Russia with Love, 1963
This was the first-ever Bond movie that introduced the idea of having a dedicated Bond Theme. John Barry’s instrumental version (not Monro sung version) is played, as well as classic the Norman theme song, during opening credits; Monro sung version played during movie (over the radio in a scene) and during the end titles. It’s a pity that the track plays at the end credits, which thankfully wasn’t the case in the Bond movies released afterward. Maybe, the makers of From Russia with Love wanted to play it safe as they were trying the theme song style for the very first time. John Barry is the man behind many memorable Bond theme songs, including Goldfinger and A View to a Kill, but From Russia With Love will be remembered as the sophomore outing as far as Bond theme songs are concerned. Our verdict- listen to it as it’s a groundbreaking song.
15. Title Song: “Moonraker”
Composed by: John Barry, Hal David
Performed by: Shirley Bassey
Film: Moonraker, 1979
In our opinion, very few singers have done justice to Bond movie theme songs, and Shirley Bassey is one of them. She sang three massively popular and memorable Bond themes, which is a clear proof of how perfectly she has captured the movie’s true essence. Bassey’s powerful vocals give this song a tremendous uplift and the much-needed intensity. But, in this song, she has employed a restrained approach, which is somewhat surprising because, in this movie, Bond goes to outer space. We would have loved a more enthralling and high-pitched track. Our verdict- the song does live up to the hype to some extent.
14. Title Song: “Diamonds Are Forever”
Composed by: John Barry, Don Black
Performed by: Shirley Bassey
Film: Diamonds Are Forever, 1971
Something so eye-catching and valuable as diamonds deserved to have a song all about them, and Shirley Bassey did just that. This song is all praises for the gem, while some parts also whisper the underlying forlornness that chasing diamonds and wealth brings. Materialism is the underlying concept of the song as it favors the life of shiny gems and wealth. Our verdict- the music supports the love of the lifestyle as well as the misery it broods.
13. Title Song: “For Your Eyes Only”
Composed by: Bill Conti, Mick Leeson
Performed by: Sheena Easton
Film: For Your Eyes Only, 1981
When you listen to this song, you’ll instantly go back to your high-school days. We bet you would revisit the Prom Night because this theme song has all the teen romance vibes. It is evident that the song is too trite and sappy, and it doesn’t belong to the Bond movie at all. It would have fit the stereotypical 80’s rom-com genre movie more than a thriller.
12. Title Song: “The Living Daylights”
Composed by: John Barry, Pål Waaktaar
Performed by: A-ha
Film: The Living Daylights, 1987
As the name suggests, this song is on the darker side of the spectrum. It creates an aura of eeriness as A-ha’s spine-chilling vocals are paired with haunting synth effects. Surprisingly A-ha’s voice has incredibly vast ranges. After all, the singer has produced masterpieces like “Take on Me,” which have been everyone’s hidden favorite. Our verdict- it’s dramatic and intense, and the vocals do all the magic.
11. Title Song: “Thunderball”
Composer by: John Barry, Don Black
Performed by: Tom Jones
Film: Thunderball, 1965
Thunderball is a utopian version of a 007 title track. The song, in our opinion, does feature all the essential and primitive contents of a James Bond theme, including loud horns and lyrics. The song describes the entire plot of the movie, which more or less has been the way Bond themes are created. It seems like a third-hand replica of “Goldfinger” as it can never match its supremacy. Our verdict- Thunderball appears to be making fun of itself, which, to be honest, is quite unusual, and that is the reason it gained a spot on this list.
10. Song: “We Have All the Time in the World”
Composer by: John Barry, Hal David
Performed by: Louis Armstrong
Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1970
Though this is not the opening title song; The secondary theme from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service initially seems like it belongs to another movie because we cannot relate it with Bond. However, listen to it the second time, and you’ll find yourself in love with the distinctive vocals of Louis Armstrong. The lyrics are a little bit somber. The song’s title is inspired by a dialogue Bond says to Tracy, his wife, just before she gets murdered. That’s the reason why there’s a melancholic feel to this song. Our verdict- it’s deep and impactful.
9. Title Song: “You Only Live Twice”
Composer by: John Barry, Leslie Bricusse
Performed by: Nancy Sinatra
Film: You Only Live Twice, 1967
This song has one of the most significant beginnings in history. Comprising of only French horns and violins, the opening part has a whole other league of its own. It takes you to places you haven’t been before, like a dream that is not so far from reality. The first part of the ballad gained more fame and appraisal than the remainder of the song. However, we believe that the latter part is sung commendably by Sinatra. Our verdict- the prelude is the real star in this theme song as it pushes the singer far away from the spotlight.
8. Title Song: “License to Kill“
Composer by: Narada Michael Walden, Jeffrey Cohen, Walter Afanasieff
Performed by: Gladys Knight
Film: License to Kill, 1989
This is what we would call a killer Bond theme song. It’s everything a Bond movie features; it is blunt, poignant, but not subtle or subdued. Bond movies have a persona of their own. These are thrillers but have some element of emotion instilled rather interestingly. That’s why audiences connect with them almost instantaneously. The same feelings we get from this theme song. Our verdict- it’s an exhilarating love song.
7. Title Song: “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”
Composer by: John Barry, Hal David
Performed by: The John Barry Orchestra
Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969
We include the “official” title song for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service with John Barry’s Orchestra plays title song for the film; Louis Armstrong’s “We Have All the Time in the World” is played during the movie; it was played during James Bond’s courtship with Tracey (Bond); Bond’s wife by the end of the film.
6. Title Song: “Nobody Does It Better”
Composer by: Marvin Hamlisch, Carole Bayer Sager
Performed by: Carley Simon
Film: The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977
Nobody Does it Better broke many Bond traditions that we had become accustomed to so far, such as having a title other than the movie’s name. The song stimulates a whole new sense of comfort that you don’t get from Bond films usually. Our verdict- compelling best describes this song as Carly Simon’s soothing voice takes you into a comfort zone that makes you realize- “Nobody Does it Better” than Bond.
5. Title Song: “You Know My Name”
Composer by: David Arnold, Chris Cornell
Performed by: Chris Cornell
Film: Casino Royale, 2006
Usually, Bond theme songs feature the same title as the movie, but that’s not the case with You Know My Name. It is among the few Bond themes with a different title than the movie. Moreover, this song is the perfect theme to welcome Daniel Craig as the new Mr. Bond. The title “You Know My Name” clearly hints at the famous dialogue of Mr. Bond. Our verdict- this song created a new genre for the bond themes with loud ragged guitar sequences giving a whole other precarious vibe rather than the usual comforting ones.
4. Title Song: “A View to a Kill”
Composer by: John Barry, Duran Duran
Performed by: Duran Duran
Film: A View to a Kill,1985
A View to a Kill couldn’t become a fantastic 007 theme song, despite that Duran Duran gave it the best possible treatment as far as vocals are concerned. It didn’t appeal to us as much as we expected it to is its retro synth music and immature lyrics such as “dance into the fire.” Our verdict- the song missed the mark on being a great theme song, but in the future, it can gain some followers and views as it is a Duran Duran rendition.
3. Title Song: “Goldfinger”
Composer by: Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley, John Barry
Performed by: Shirley Bassey
Film: Goldfinger, 1964
This golden song deserves a place at the top of our list. The riches and wealth of Agent 007 are bragged about, and his sinister ways are highlighted in this Shirley Bassey classic. The piercing horns act as a caution for incoming danger. Bond’s villainous nature is given a boost to a great extent, and we are made to feel as a component of the ensuing adventure. Our verdict- it’s the whole movie franchise squeezed into a 3-minute song, the poster child for Bond themes.
2. Title Song: “Live and Let Die”
Composer by: Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney
Performed by: Paul McCartney and Wings
Film: Live and Let Die, 1973
This song comes bearing a faux embrace that provides an unnerving sense of warmth. It takes you high to the sky and brings you back down with sheer force through the scintillating guitar riff by none other than the eminent Paul McCartney. The song pulls you out of the soothing beach-like trance that McCartney created with the Wings working their magic. Paul McCartney blessed the world with this energetically divine symphony and produced a masterpiece that would have conquered the first position on the list but lacked connection towards the film. Our verdict- McCartney sure does make people groove to this musical number from the spy series.
1. Title Song: “James Bond Theme”
Composer by: Monty Norman
Performed by: John Barry & Orchestra; Monty Norman
Film: Dr. No, 1962
This is the quintessential opening Bond theme…. what more can be said for perfection and iconic.
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