If you’ve just bought yourself an Aston Martin and are looking for a playlist to drink martinis to on your maiden voyage, then we’ve got you covered. From over 50 years of Bond movies, we’ve picked out the top 10 theme songs.
We’ve tried not to let the quality of the movie interfere with these tracks, but let’s be honest, no one remembers the theme song for Sean Connery’s 7th movie, Never Say Never.
A staple of the soundtrack industry, the James Bond theme songs are nothing if not dramatic, wonderfully orchestral and riddled with class.
Adele – Skyfall (2012)
If it weren’t for the fact that it was played to death on most radio stations, Skyfall would be a near perfect Bond song. The quiet start, the foreshadowing lyrics, that goosebump inspiring brass line – not to mention the breathtaking vocals from Adele. It’s not a wonder Skyfall is the only Bond theme from the 23 made so far to win an Oscar for Best Original Song.
Wings – Live and Let Die (1973)
Written by Paul and Linda McCartney, and performed by post-Beatles band, Wings, this song saw McCartney once again team up with ‘the fifth Beatle’, Sir George Martin. With brutal lyrics that sum up Bond’s lifestyle and a chorus that comes out of nowhere, much like how a surprise assassination attempt, it’s a superb theme for the Roger Moore classic.
Chris Cornell – You Know My Name (2006)
For the reboot of the series and introduction of Daniel Craig they needed a big song and Chris Cornell made it huge. The combination of gritty guitar sounds over a classic brass section made for a different take on the theme; but Cornell has stated that this was intentional, and a reflection of Bond’s inexperience in Casino Royale.
A-ha – Living Daylights (1987)
Despite a sticky falling out between A-ha and composer John Barry which ended in A-ha saying Barry shouldn’t be credited in the song and Barry comparing the Norwegian band to the Hitler Youth, The Living Daylights is still a stand out Bond song.
Carly Simon – Nobody Does It Better – 1977
Successful Bond themes have always matched the mood of certain scenes within the movie. High tempo brass hits pair well with those top of train/mid-flight helicopter fight scenes while songs like this reflect James’ endless romantic pursuits. The song by Carly Simon is one of the sexiest in the series through its flattering lyrics, gentle piano lines and the wooing vocals from Carly.
Shirley Bassey – Goldfinger (1964)
There’s nothing more ‘classic Bond’ than Goldfinger. While it was the third film of the series, it had a budget greater than the first two combined and it showed the start to those key Bond staples; the brilliant villain, the beautiful love interest and of course an amazing theme song.
Sung by Shirley Bassey who’s often considered the voice of the franchise, you can see how this film set up the series to last for over 50 years. After the huge success of Goldfinger, Bassey was asked back for two more Bond themes and a number of secondary songs.
Dionne Warwick – Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (1992)
Dionne Warwick’s contribution is the only song on the list that isn’t the official theme tune for a Bond film. Back in 1965, Albert Broccoli decided that all the theme songs had to have the same name as the movie, so Tom Jones’ Thunderball was chosen instead.
Luckily the matching the movie title rule was lifted before Quantum Of Solace came out because that would’ve been a tricky one to rhyme with.
Tom Jones – Thunderball (1965)
With its slinky brass sounds and forceful vocal performance, it’s no surprise Tom Jones pulls the classiest Bond theme of the lot.
Sheena Easton – For Your Eyes Only (1981)
The 80s were a strange time for the Bond themes. As with all adaptable franchises, the films tried to keep the score up to date for the viewers, which meant bringing in 80s acts for the theme.
Nothing screams 80s more than this synth infused power ballad by Sheena Easton.
Nancy Sinatra – You Only Live Twice (1967)
While we haven’t seen any YOLT bumper stickers, the theme song by Nancy Sinatra stands out for one reason and one reason alone; that swanky violin line at the start of the song.
While Sinatra’s vocals didn’t make her an obvious pick for a Bond song , the sublime string orchestration from John Barry lands this song a spot on our list.
While you’re here, check out our list of the best movie soundtracks of all time.