Every Single Bond Theme Song, Ranked

From Shirley Bassey to Sam Smith, EW ranks five decades of music from the iconic movie franchise.

  1. 1

    "Goldfinger" by Shirley Bassey

    FILM: "Goldfinger," 1964 The platonic ideal of a Bond tune: Bold, brassy, sexy, and cool. The first breakout Bond hit was composed by John Barry (also responsible for the iconic Bond theme music) and was the highest-charting song of Bassey’s storied career. — KA

  2. 2

    "A View To A Kill" by Duran Duran

    FILM: "A View To A Kill," 1985The only Bond theme to top the Hot 100, “A View to a Kill” was born after Duran Duran bassist John Taylor approached "A View to a Kill" producer Cubby Broccoli at a party and asked him, “When are you going to get someone decent to do one of your theme songs?” They responded with a bridge to the MTV generation, leaving behind big band bombast in favor of cinematic New Wave trickery. It’s awesome, and serves as a fitting swan song for the original members of the band: the founding five members of Duran Duran wouldn’t record together again until 2001. — KA

  3. 3

    “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney & Wings

    FILM: "Live and Let Die," 1973 The first Bond theme without a co-write by John Barry, “Live and Let Die” was not only one of the most successful tunes from the film franchise (it peaked at no. 2 on the Hot 100) but was also one of Wings’ biggest hits. Produced by George Martin, “Live and Let Die” was the first time McCartney had collaborated with the fabled Beatles producer since "Let It Be." It’s gigantic, almost to a fault. — KA

  4. 4

    "You Only Live Twice" by Nancy Sinatra

    FILM: "You Only Live Twice", 1967Featuring music by John Barry and lyrics from British composer Leslie Bricusse ("Goldfinger"), "You Only Live Twice" is often cited as one of the best songs in the franchise’s history. And rightfully so. Released in 1967, the title track from the fifth Bond film with Sean Connery in the leading role hit no. 44 on the Billboard chart and has frequently remained in the pop culture conversation since: Robbie Williams snatched the opening for "Millenium," while Matthew Weiner memorably used "You Only Live Twice" at the end of the "Mad Men" season 5 finale. — CR

  5. 5

    "Diamonds Are Forever" by Shirley Bassey

    FILM: "Diamonds Are Forever," 1971 Returning to the Bond franchise seven years after setting the gold-standard for themes with "Goldfinger," Shirley Bassey was tasked with singing the jazzy "Diamonds Are Forever" from the film of the same name. Not nearly the cultural sensation that her original foray into the world of 007 proved to be, Bassey's "Diamonds Are Forever" did receive a 21st century bump thanks to Kanye West. The rapper sampled the Bond theme for "Diamonds from Sierra Leone." — CR

  6. 6

    "Nobody Does It Better" by Carly Simon

    FILM: "The Spy Who Loved Me," 1977 "The sexiest song ever written" according to Thom Yorke, who covered the "Spy Who Loved Me" theme with Radiohead. "Nobody Does It Better" is one of the most successful Bond songs ever. It spent three weeks at No. 2 on the Billboard chart, and was such a hit for singer Carly Simon that she named her greatest hits album after the track. With music from Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager, "Nobody Does It Better" is also an anomaly among Bond themes: It was the first proper Bond theme to have a different title than the movie. ("Dr. No" did not have a sung theme, but instead used the classic "James Bond Theme" as its opening track.) — CR

  7. 7

    "GoldenEye" by Tina Turner

    FILM: "GoldenEye," 1995What happens when you take two members of the biggest rock band in the world (that'd be U2's Bono and the Edge) and pair them with one of the greatest singers of the pop era (that'd be Tina Turner)? A slinky, sexy, thoroughly modern Bond theme that leaves us stirred and shaken. — MV

  8. 8

    "Thunderball" by Tom Jones

    FILM: "Thunderball," 1965The theme for “Thunderball” was originally a song called “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and first recorded by Shirley Bassey, before Dionne Warwick re-recorded it. The tune was scrapped because it didn’t share the film’s title, so the bombastic and cool “Thunderball” was created at the last minute and handed to Jones. Three movies in, the Bond franchise was already a sandbox in which musicians wanted to play: the legendary Johnny Cash also submitted a song called “Thunderball,” but it went unused (and unreleased until 2011). — KA

  9. 9

    "James Bond Is Back" / "From Russia With Love" / "James Bond Theme"

    FILM: "From Russia With Love," 1964From those massive brass stabs in the intro to the swooning string melodies, John Barry's symphonic theme song isn't just an iconic Bond opener—it's one of the best in all of movie history. And Matt Monro's vocals on the so-cheesy-it's-good ballad is saccharine, late-'60s pop-balladeering at its finest. — KO

  10. 10

    "We Have All the Time in the World" by John Barry Orchestra and Louis Armstrong

    FILM: "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," 1969Another one of Barry's intricate symphonic scores leads off the titles to this 1969 flick, but we're ranking late jazz icon Armstrong for his gorgeous, string-laden ballad, which played during the end credits. Composed by Barry, "We Have All the Time in the World" has had a legacy beyond the silver screen: the BBC reported this tune has become a favorite at weddings and everyone from noise-rock icons My Bloody Valentine to Iggy Pop have offered their own takes on this classic. — KO

  11. 11

    "Licence to Kill" by Gladys Knight

    FILM: "Licence to Kill," 1989This theme hasn't aged so well 26 years after its release: it's thick with '80s pop cliches (a big fat key change! Vegas-style female backup singers! MIDI'd-out synths!) but the legendary Knight saves this one from DOA status thanks to her warm, smokey vocals. — KO

  12. 12

    "Die Another Day" by Madonna

    FILM: "Die Another Day," 2002The most disco-oriented Bond theme ever—and perhaps the only thing worth salvaging from Madonna's otherwise disappointing 2003 album 'American Life.' And even if Bond fans couldn't get their hips swaying to Mirwais' glitchy production—the track features almost no melodic references to the classic Bond theme—the Queen of Pop's fans certainly did: "Die Another Day" was the 35th Madonna single to hit the Top 10 and it's popped up in her live shows since. — KO

  13. 13

    "Skyfall" by Adele

    FILM: "Skyfall," 2012Written by Adele and Paul Epworth (who collaborated with the powerhouse for her instant classic “Rolling in the Deep”), “Skyfall” has all the drama listeners have come to want — nay, need! — from the Brit singer. But while Adele certainly sounds great—this is the singer with the Golden Voices, after all—it feels as if she's holding back. — MV

  14. 14

    "Writing's On The Wall" by Sam Smith

    FILM: "Spectre," 2015The newest entry in the Bond theme oeuvre, "Writing's On The Wall" is pleasant enough—a world-class voice like Smith's tends to do that—but this one lacks urgency. And while British production duo Disclosure have production credits here, their forward-thinking take on electronic music is barely detectable on "Writing's On The Wall." — ERB

  15. 15

    "Tomorrow Never Dies" by Sheryl Crow

    FILM: "Tomorrow Never Dies," 1997Sheryl Crow plays the seductive villain in this song, and though the track is sexy as hell with slow building percussions and slinking piano chords, Crow never quite brings the track to the operatic heights it needs to kill. — JG

  16. 16

    "Moonraker" by Shirley Bassey

    FILM: "Moonraker," 1977Originally a song set aside for Johnny Mathis, Shirley Bassey stepped in to sing "Moonraker" at the 11th hour, her third Bond theme following "Goldfinger" and "Diamonds Are Forever." Memorable, it's not: "Moonraker" only hit 159 on the charts, and Bassey never performed it on stage save for a 2005 concert. — CR

  17. 17

    "The Man With The Golden Gun" by Lulu

    FILM: "The Man With The Golden Gun," 1974Where Paul McCartney and Wings struck the sweet spot between '70s glitz and Bond melodrama with 1973's "Live and Let Die," the title sequence for the following year's "The Man With the Golden Gun" missed the mark. Performed by the British starlet Lulu, who had worked on BBC themes and with David Bowie, "The Man With The Golden Gun" featured amped-up electric guitars, blaring horns, and the singer's powerful pipes—but amounted to a hodgepodge of trendy sounds that hasn't aged well. — ERB

  18. 18

    "All Time High" by Rita Coolidge

    FILM: "Octopussy," 1983A sense of foreboding pervades the best Bond themes. That's not the case with "All Time High," Rita Coolidge's bland song for 1983's "Octopussy." The ornately produced ballad feels more suited for a cheesy NC-17 flick on Skinemax. "We're on an all time high," she croons. Couldn't be further from the truth. — ERB

  19. 19

    "For Your Eyes Only" by Sheena Easton

    FILM: "For Your Eyes Only," 1981Producers approached New Wave icons Blondie to record the 1981 theme, But when film execs asked them to use a song from songwriter Bill Conti, they balked. So Sheena Easton was recruited instead. And while the Prince protege certainly had pop bonafides under her belt, the final result is a schlocky, melodramatic, overly produced dud. — ERB

  20. 20

    "The Living Daylights" by a-ha

    FILM: "The Living Daylights," 1987 The Norwegian New Wave group never matched the success of their groundbreaking 1985 music video "Take On Me"—and doing a Bond theme a few years later didn't help their case either. Sure, it became a staple of their live shows, but neither a sexy sax solo nor singer Morten Harket's thin, high croon could help give it the gravity of iconic themes by singers like Bassey. — KO

  21. 21

    "The World Is Not Enough" by Garbage

    FILM: "The World Is Not Enough," 1999Written by David Arnold and Bond theme vet Don Black, "The World Is Not Enough" has potential to be grandiose, but with forced synths hanging over the classic Bond vibes the result is, well, more than enough. — JG

  22. 22

    "You Know My Name" by Chris Cornell

    FILM: "Casino Royale," 2006The arrival of Daniel Craig as James Bond represented a series of resets for the franchise, including the approach to its music: “You Know My Name” was only the second Bond theme that does not share its title with the movie it is in (after “All Time High,” from "Octopussy"), and the first time a male voice had introduced Bond since 1987. It’s fine enough, but doesn’t do much to capture the energy of the movie nor the sleekness of Craig’s re-imagined Bond. — KA

  23. 23

    "Another Way to Die" by Jack White and Alicia Keys

    An unlikely collaboration—and the first duet in Bond music history—yields an unmemorable song for a middling movie. Like “You Know My Name” and “Skyfall,” “Another Way to Die” suffers from the same bouts of self-seriousness that constantly threaten to derail the Daniel Craig-era movies. What’s more frustrating is the original plan for Solace was to have Amy Winehouse sing the tune, but her session with producer Mark Ronson was abandoned because the troubled Winehouse was, according to Ronson, “not ready to work.” — KA

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