The 10 Best James Bond Theme Songs
Yesterday “Skyfall,” Adele’s theme song to the upcoming James Bond film of the same name, was officially released, and it’s a doozy. The song is the latest in a long line of fantastic tracks from the series; Bond music is just as iconic and essential to the series as 007’s sharp suits and cool cars are. Here are the 10 best James Bond themes—so good, they’ll leave you shaken AND stirred.
10. Garbage, “The World Is Not Enough” (The World Is Not Enough, 1999)
One of the Bond themes that’s arguably better than the movie in which it was featured, “The World Is Not Enough” features Shirley Manson doing her best Shirley Bassey, crooning and brooding her way through this classic-sounding song.
9. Nancy Sinatra, “You Only Live Twice” (You Only Live Twice, 1967)
This grand plea to seize the day recently resurfaced in the season five finale of Mad Men. It captures the glamour of the ‘60s while also reminding us there’s “one life for yourself and one for your dreams.”
8. Duran Duran, “A View to a Kill” (A View to a Kill, 1985)
On paper, Duran Duran might not seem like the most natural choice for a Bond soundtrack, but theirs is the only 007 theme to reach No. 1 on the Billboard charts—although, we’ve got a feeling if you give it a few days, Adele’s “Skyfall” will be sitting pretty in that position as well.
7. Tom Jones, “Thunderball” (Thunderball, 1965)
Legend has it Tom Jones fainted in the recording booth after singing this song’s climactic high note. “I closed my eyes and I held the note for so long when I opened my eyes the room was spinning,” Jones told NPR.
6. Jack White and Alicia Keys, “Another Way to Die” (Quantum of Solace, 2008)
It’s easy to get sucked into the classic Bond aesthetic and attempt to recreate theme songs from the past, but nearly everything about this single screams “Jack White”—and we mean that in the best possible way.
5. Adele, “Skyfall” (Skyfall, 2012)
The decision to have Adele record the latest Bond theme seems like a no-brainer, and the results don’t disappoint. “Skyfall” is a slow burn, with Adele’s vocal gymnastics lending it the appropriate sense of glamour and intrigue—all the makings of a classic spy theme.
4. Shirley Bassey, “Diamonds Are Forever” (Diamond Are Forever, 1971)
Shirley Bassey is the queen of Bond themes, recording more than anyone else and consistently delivering the drama such songs require. Diamonds may be forever, but so is this iconic theme.
3. Carly Simon, “Nobody Does It Better” (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977)
This sexy power ballad was a massive hit for Carly Simon. It’s the first Bond theme to have a different title than the movie in which it appears, perhaps driving home the point that this song can stand on its own.
2. Paul McCartney and Wings, “Live and Let Die” (Live and Let Die, 1973)
The world-famous Liverpudlian reunited with Beatles producer George Martin and lent his talents to the British spy institution for this track, which was nominated for a Grammy as well as an Academy Award. It’s one of the most well-known from the Wings catalog, and for good reason: it’s undeniably great.
1. Shirley Bassey, “Goldfinger” (Goldfinger, 1964)
No Bond theme toes the fine line between dramatic and cheesy quite as expertly as “Goldfinger.” Shirley Bassey belts out the character traits of the man with the Midas touch while the horns blare, and—save for the main Dr. No theme that appears in every installment—it’s perhaps the most easily identifiable of the series.