The Top Ten Bond Theme Songs

The theme songs to Bond films have become a phenomenon all their own. Some of the biggest music superstars of all time have authored Bond themes. Paul McCartney, Madonna, Duran Duran. Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones. Carly Simon. Chris Cornell. Sheryl Crow… Jack Black and Alicia Keyes.

Many of the songs have earned lives of their own in pop music, topping the charts, and/or becoming beloved classics. They’re a highly anticipated, much talked about aspect of each new movie. Who will do the song, what it will be called, how good will it be.

It’s yet another element of the series that sets it apart and above other movie franchises. NO other film franchise has the association with popular music that Bond does. There’s a litany of incredible Bond theme songs that dates back into the 1960s, and continues to this day.

Read on to see the ten best!

10) “The World Is Not Enough” – Garbage

This installment’s winner of “The Best of the Rest” is “The World is not Enough” by Garbage. Not my favorite theme, certainly, but they do do a great job of building around the title.
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9) “All Time High”, theme from “Octopussy” – Rita Coolidge

Coolidge had been out of the limelight for a while prior to being called on to perform this song. She scored an adult contemporary #1 hit with it, and it’s a pleasant addition to a fun Bond movie.
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8) “For Your Eyes Only” Sheena Easton

A sweet enough pop ballad. Easton scored one of her biggest hits (top ten), and earned an Academy Award nomination for this theme to this 1981 Bond film.
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7) “Thunderball” – Tom Jones

There’s not much to point out on this theme aside from Tom Jones’ incredible set of pipes. Thankfully, that’s more than enough!

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6) “Another Way to Die”, theme from “Quantum of Solace” – Jack White, Alicia Keyes

This song just kicks ass, in my opinion. Modern and hard-driving, the pairing of White and Keyes made for a fantastic combination. His buzzsaw guitar and her piano and vocals made an unforgettable theme for me.
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5) “You Know My Name”, theme from “Casino Royale” – Chris Cornell

Cornell was a huge player in the Grunge era of the 90’s, and has an incredible voice. “You Know my Name” felt modern, yet called back classic elements at the same time. Having Cornell open “Casino Royale” loudly announced a new day had dawned for Bond.
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4) “A View to a Kill” – Duran Duran

Nothing says “80s” quite like Duran Duran. Legendarily this theme came to be after bassist John Taylor asked Bond producer Cubby Broccoli something to the effect of “When are you going to have a theme song that doesn’t suck?”

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3) “Live and Let Die” – Paul McCartney and Wings

Sir Paul contributes the series’ most famous Rock theme. Changing tempos as often as Bond does, Live and Let Die soothes you with a verse and then punches the gas and screams through an instrumental segment, only to sweep gently along again with another verse. Explosive, literally.
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2) “Goldfinger” – Shirley Bassey

Shirley Bassey with full accompaniment equals a blasting, classic Bond theme. There’s an unforgettable, almost bombastic quality to this one. Confident, bold… Bassey belts it out like no one’s business.
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1) “Nobody Does it Better”, theme from “The Spy Who Loved Me” – Carly Simon

Silky smooth and lyrically appropriate, Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does it Better” encapsulates the suave, ladies man side of Bond, leaving a trail of jilted lovers in his wake.
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A quick note: I’m choosing not to listen to the Adele song for “Skyfall” prior to actually seeing the movie.

Well there you have it folks, the Top Ten Bond Theme Songs! I expect there to be quite a debate here, as tastes in music vary even more wildly than taste in movies! :D Did I exclude any you’re a fan of? Rank something too high or too low? You know the drill, let us hear it!

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59 thoughts on “The Top Ten Bond Theme Songs

    • Thanks buddy. Yeah, I love that song, but it’s hard to unseat some of the others. Theyve been around longer, and have become ingrained in the pop culture more.

      Plus, outside of the actual film, I dont think that that Cornell song made so much as a ripple in the music world at large/pop culture.

      Could just be me, but if it did, I’m not aware of it…

  1. I totally agree with your top 2 pics here, but I’ve got to say that Chris Cornell’s theme song should be #3. If were were going off of complete listenablity I think it would be in a tie for #1 with Live and Let Die. I listen to both of those tunes on a regular basis. In fact, I’m going to listen to them right now!

    • :D My work here is done.

      Live and Let Die is great, of course. Saw McCartney play it live 20 years or so ago. :D How’s THAT? LOL

      I love the ones ahead of it too, though. Sometimes you just have to make the tough choices…

      I cant see moving “You KNow My Name” up though. As I was telling “Terry”, above, I dont think that song registered outside of the Bond world. Willing to be corrected though if it has…

  2. Fine list, Fogs. Especially with this series, everyone has their set of favorites. I still think “A View to a Kill” by Duran Duran remains the single best thing in that movie. Just about everything else I kick to the bottom of the pile for that one.

    • WHAAAT? Stacy Sutton is one of the best Bond girls! Ok, sorry wait, ok… Max Zorn is the greatest Bond Villain ever Hang on, I’ll get it, I’ll think of something Oh!! That firetruck scene is one of the best action scenes in Bond history Ok. Shit. I give up.

      May Day has her moments I guess. LOL

      • LOL. There’s nothing else to say… even if you WANTED to legitimately defend that film. :D And even then you have to hedge it, because she also has moments where you want to pour bleach into your eyes! LOL

        Let’s say this. If this list were “Theme Quality in Comparison to the Film They’re From”, “A View to A Kill” wins in an avalanche sized landslide. LOL

  3. I love the theme Live and Let Die. My favorite on music along. The opening sequence is also a stand alone element and I would have to rewatch the opening credits to remember my favorite.

    I know it is often NOT considered an ‘official’ Bond movie, and the song for it isn’t a good one, but it DOES get stuck in my head sometimes. Never Say Never Again. Things that are not very good can occassionally be ‘catchy’.

    • You know what’s sad, Night? I… I’m having trouble recalling it. I think its a function of not watching that movie as frequently. It’s not “official” and… well, its not good. LOL. I may have to YouTube it. Wasn’t it just an annoying little “Never, Never”… hang on…

      OhhhhGoddddd THEPAINAAAAINNNNN

      LOL :D Yeah, that’s… wow. Thats really bad. I can see how that little “diddy” segment could get stuck in your head though.

      • Actually, I think this movie is actually the reason I DON’T think Sean Connery is the best Bond. This came out in 1983? So I was 12 or 13. It would be one my earlier memories of James Bond. Definately the first one on the Big Screen. Because of this movie, I tend to favor Roger Moore.

  4. Pretty good list, Fogsy. I have a few random thoughts. First, Goldfinger is the most iconic Bond song ever and should be #1 on everyone’s list, although Nobody Does it Better is a close #2. Second, thank you for not including Goldeneye on here, because everyone talks about how great that song is, even though it’s horrible. Third, I like Another Way to Die but feel it would have been better with only Jack White singing; Alicia Keys adds a weird juxtaposition that doesn’t work.

    • There’s an argument to be made for Goldfinger at #1, no doubt. It IS iconic, certainly. But I think “Nobody Does it Better” is iconic, as well. And a slightly better song. I think they’re both solid choices… But it’s definitely Carly for me.

      I have no trouble with Keyes, I like that tune across the board, I really do. I think it rocks.

      In other news, yeah, Goldeneye. Not that great. I’m not a big fan, either. Especially given the talent surrounding it. :(

  5. Good list, Fogs. I can’t say agree with it, but I also wouldn’t agree with myself for any list I put together a mere year ago. :) My own top Ten List would depend on my mood at any given time.

    Here’s mine:

    10.) The World Is Not Enough – Shirley Manson does a great job doing a classic Bond theme in the modern day. This was actually surprising coming from alternative darlings like Garbage. Honestly, I didn’t know they had it in them.

    9.) Another Way To Die – of the Daniel Craig ones, I have to give an edge to Jack White and Alicia Keys. Partly because I always tie it to the cool intro graphics, one of my all time favorites. I love it when Ms. Keys hammers on the piano, and we’re looking at a spiraling sky with spherical graphics.

    8.) Live And Let Die – This is one of the weirdest Bond themes, hands down, and still the rockingest. It’s also very Paul McCartney, especially when it transitions to a ragtime-like tune in the middle. The Beatles never got to do a Bond theme, which is a shame… this may be the closest we’ll ever get.

    7.) Nobody Does It Better – Fine choice for #1, Fogs. However, I have the unfortunate case of associating this with the local Lite FM more than anything. They played this song a lot. I didn’t know until years later that it was a Bond theme.

    6.) Thunderball – I love Tom Jones, and I love this song. Bold and brassy, Texas style! It really gets you in the mood for an action movie with class. Some years, this is my #1 song, easy.

    5.) You Only Live Twice – I rank this high not for Nancy Sinatra, who acquits herself well here. (Got to see her perform this live, by the way.) The thing that sets this one apart is the John Barry tune, which is so great that Robbie Williams used it again not too long ago for his hit song, “Millennium” (which is surprisingly solid).

    4.) License To Kill – this one’s purely nostalgia for me, as this was one of my first Bond movie. Gladys Knight, you can take or leave, but I absolutely love the orchestral music that comes in after she sings, “License to killlllll….” (*bawwwwm bawwwwmm… wah wah wah wah bawwwwwm bawwwwwwmmmmmm…*)

    3.) The Living Daylights – his surprises me as I’m not really huge into 80’s music. It wouldn’t have made my Top 10 five years ago. But I do love a-ha, and I have been putting this on repeat whilst listening to the Bond playlist on my iPad. I really can’t explain it.

    2.) Goldfinger – We end this with two Shirley Bassey tunes. Goldfinger is of couse a stone cold classic. However, sometimes Ms. Bassey is a little … too brassy, if that makes any sense. Bus still, wen you hear this come on, it’s Bond time, yo.

    1.) Diamonds Are Forever – Ms. Bassey tones it down a bit, and the song is far better for it. The song is seductive yet epic, cheesy yet classy. Just like a Bond movie. Bassey’s lighter touch and repeating verses recalls the prismatic light filtered through a diamond . It’s beautiful.

    • Wow, man. there’s a couple on there that I really dont dig… :( I have “The Living Daylights” as one of the worst! YOLT has got that riff that’s very cool, but the song itself is strange. It’s kind of half pop, half asian, I really like the intro string melody, but once the vocals kick, I’m signing out on that one… Robbie Williams did well with it sampling it for Millenium, though, I like that song well enough.

      I dont mind “Diamonds are Forever”… but Moonraker is rough just because they tried to incorporate that title, and lyrically it just… doesnt make sense. LOL

      Its a close call for me between the two Craig themes. I like them both, I think that the Cornell theme registered a little better with people across the board… thus, it ranks higher for me. :)

      • See, that’s where we gotta part ways, Fogs, ‘cuz “A View To A Kill” would’ve been on my own “10 Worst” list. That’s right: a-ha over Duran Duran! Living’s in the way we die!

      • We’re at least all agreed that Madonna wrote the worst Bond song of all time, right? ‘Cuz I don’t want to live in a world where that’s not a stone cold fact.

      • Yeah, it’s either that or Lulu’s “The Man With The Golden Gun”, that song’s pretty harsh too. But I have no issues with Madonna at the lowest spot if you insist. LOL. It’s definitely bottom five for me, I havent sorted the lowest of the low, you know?

  6. Well you know, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no matter how WRONG!!!

    #1 is LIve and Let Die, always and forever, world without end, amen. To suggest otherwise is darkest heresy and WILL NOT BE COUNTENANCED! harumph.

    So, with that being said, the rest of your list is alright, except for #9, which is horrible. Also “Another Way to Die” which is also horrible AND associated with Q0S so it’s doubly damned. To quote John Warfin: Sealed with a curse as sharp as a knife. Doomed is your soul and damned is your life.

    And no love for Tina Turner?

  7. My fav is “The Living Daylights”. Did you know Alice Cooper did a version of “Man With The Golden Gun” but the producers decided to go with the Lulu version. Cooper’s version is on his album “Muscle Of Love”.

    • I’ve heard it, yeah. It’s not great either, but that Lulu song is one of the worst in the series. Not a great song and a terrible title to have to work in to a chorus. :(

      Meawhile, I’m flat out surprised that two people have mentioned “The Living Daylights”, I’ve always considered it one of the worst offerings in the series as well. I do, however, like Chrissie Hynde’s “If There Was A Man”, which plays over the end credits. [Shrugs]

  8. I seem to remember having this conversation before. The Carly Simon song is fine, a smooth, lite rock tune that has a high degree of repeatability. The problem with it is that it does not scream out “James F…ing BOND”. The images in the titles help but the song falls short of the perfection that your myopia causes you to see. Again, i am not dissing Carly or the song, just the way it fits into the Bond Canon. For the record the correct listing is :

    1. GOLDFINGER- anyone who says differently is trying to sell you something. Shirley Bassey, Bricuse and Newley and a John Barry arrangement. Brass and voice together forever. This song has balls.

    2. LIVE AND LET DIE -Paul McCartney does a Bond song. For crying out loud, how can anything since compete with that? It kicks in with a crash, has a continuous guitar riff that works throughout the whole movie, it changes tempo and mood to capture the rhythms of a 007 adventure. Anyone can listen and enjoy at anytime.

    3. SKYFALL – (You will understand when you hear it).

    4. THUNDERBALL – If James Bond had to be summarized by a story song, this is it. Delivered by a artist with a voice that could knock SPECTRE off the planet. It evokes in it’s lyrics the tough and brutal life of our gentleman spy.

    5. NOBODY DOES IT BETTER – I will concede to you that it is a Beautiful Song , performed by a sultry voice with the right tone and attitude. A little slow a little soft, just misses being iconic.

    Everything else we will consider in other places.

    • Myopia, huh? :D Thats fine.

      Aside from that, we seem to be in agreement. No love for the recent themes, though?

      NOBODY DOES IT BETTER – “Beautiful Song , performed by a sultry voice with the right tone and attitude.” Well put!

      A little slow a little soft, intentionally, obviously in order to get the aforementioned “right tone and attitude”

      just misses being iconic. Mmmnnnn… no, it doesn’t :D

      • I agree.

        I mean, every “Best of” Bond song lists have to discount Dr. No just because, you know, it’s unfair when that became the theme song to everything.

        Isn’t there some sort of compromise somewhere that the “Mango Tree” song is the unofficial Dr. No theme, owing to the

      • Mmmmmnnnnnnnn….

        No, I guess not. It’s kind of unfair to Dr No, yeah, but I think the common agreement is Dr No doesnt have a theme, seeing as the theme there IS the theme for the character.

        Otherwise, cmon. LOL We wouldnt even be talking.

  9. Yeah!!! Lots of my favorites are on here Fogs, esp. the song by Garbage and Rita Coolidge, LOVE those two! Can’t go wrong with the rest, save for “Another Way to Die” That might be on my WORST list, ahah.

    • Yeah, that’s been getting a mixed reaction. I like it myself, a lot. But I knew it would be divisive. It’s kind of cutting edge type stuff… songs like that rarely have across the board type appeal…

  10. Wheres Nancy Sinstra? “You only live twice” John Barry score…The Best Bond song in my eyes!!
    sacrilege that it’s not even on the list!!!! John Barry is God…

    • No Nancy Sinatra. Not a fan of that song once that lyrical little instrumental passes and the vocals with the quasi-asian stuff in the background start.

      John Barry represents on “View to a Kill”, though, which he co-wrote with Duran Duran…does that work for you Nik? LOL

  11. Believe it or not I find myself agreeing with you almost in entirety – including your order. I was making my way down the list and thinking – “yes, yes, yes”, almost wondering where my number one favorite would be…and then, there it was at the top of the tree. Good stuff.

    Glad you included the ones that often people don’t think of – ie. the songs for For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy. I really liked what they did with Quantum of Solace too. But there’s nothing that can beat The Spy Who Loved Me.

    • Niiiiice. I feel like emailing this comment to some of these other guys and going, see? See? LOL :D

      Great to hear Dan, I think All Time High and For Your Eyes only are really sweet songs. Fun in small doses…. They are a little saccharine to listen to them frequently. LOL But to kick off those movies? They’re great.

      Glad you respect the Carly choice. That song is incredible. And it just screams “Bond” to me.

  12. I really like your list and believe the pecking order is fine especially since your #1 matches one of my top Bond films, Spy Who Loved Me. I like Goldfinger song too as its vocal bravado is just perfect I think. I guess that’s why Shirley Bassey did two Bond themes, Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever, that both charted on Billboard. Billboard has a different ranking that includes a song I enjoy but may not be as melodic as others in this list, the Die Another Day theme.

    Here’s how songs peaked on Billboard:
    A View to a Kill – Duran Duran #1, 1985
    Nobody Does It Better – CSimon #2, 1977
    Live and Let Die – PMcCartney #2, 1973
    For Your Eyes Only – SEaston, #4, 1981
    Goldfinger – SBassey, #8, 1965
    Die Another Day- Madonna, #8, 2003
    Thunderball – TJones, #25,1966
    All Time High- RCoolidge, #36,1983
    You Only Live Twice- NSinatra #44,1967
    Diamonds Are Forever- SBassey, #57,1972

    • Heh. See? So if I went by the Billboard charts, AVTAK would be the top! Everyone should be happy I demoted them a spot or two, and gave Carly the crown! :D

      Glad to have your support for that pick. I have to say, even though Moore isn’t my favorite Bond, Spy Who is a great Bond movie, it’s top five, or six for me. I’ve yet to finalize the list.

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