For Bond fans, one of the most exciting staples of the series is the theme song. This one topic is the only thing more prominent than the ever-argued: “Who was the best Bond?” With every viewer having their favorites, it is hard to judge on either account. Just like the best Bond is up for interpretation, so too are the top James Bond theme songs.
Besides speculating about who will be the next actor to play James Bond or who will be the next villain, another big question for Bond fans is: Who will sing the next intro theme song? For Bond 25, No Time to Die, which comes out in 2020, fans are speculating that it could be Ed Sheeran or Harry Styles, but many others are in the mix.
While this speculation swirls in the minds of millions of Bond fans, let’s take a journey through some of the best James Bond theme songs of all time to see what the newest addition to the series has to contend with.
“Goldfinger” by Shirley Bassey
Starting the list is Shirley Bassey and the voice that began the opening credits for Goldfinger. This 1964 song, written by John Barry, Anthony Newley, and Leslie Bricusse, causes chills still today as Bassey’s voice carries those final words to emphasize the danger that our hero will find himself in. While being one of the first, this song also ranks on the list as one of the best Bond theme songs to date.
“Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney and Wings
“Live and Let Die” was the 1973 Bond theme song that introduced rock-n-roll to the sophistication of 007 movies. Paul and Linda McCartney wrote this song, which became a big hit for their band. Delivering a range of musical experiences in one theme song, “Live and Let Die” provided moviegoers with the collaborative efforts of Paul, Linda, and producer George Martin. Simply put: It’s a musical masterpiece applied to film.
“From Russia With Love” by Matt Monro
Matt Monro’s 1963 hit, “From Russia With Love,” gave viewers all of the intensity that was secret agent 007. With sounds that Bond lovers could feel in their bones, this theme song played its part in etching the Bond movies in the hearts of the masses. Though it would be replaced with vocal styles like that of Bassey and later artists, this was (and is) truly a powerful experience to hear that signifies the original James Bond and his intense and robust character.
“You Only Live Twice” by Nancy Sinatra
“You Only Live Twice,” sung by Nancy Sinatra to open Bond in 1967, provides a theme song that is psychedelically fitting for the time. This song not only makes it on the best Bond theme songs list, but it also proved to be one of Nancy Sinatra’s biggest hits. Her voice provided the seductive allure that personified Mr. Bond himself.
“Thunderball” by Tom Jones
Tom Jones’ 1964 song “Thunderball” lends a soothing, silky voice to the high impact of Sean Connery’s performance as Bond in the film that took our hero in and out of the water. Pulling on the popular Bond orchestra theme, this open number offers the intensity of the band and vocals that match the leading man.
“Skyfall” by Adele
With a leading character that exudes class, refinement, and sophistication, this list would not be complete without Adele’s 2012 Bond theme song, “Skyfall.” Adele’s voice is so strong that at times it seems she will overpower the intensity of the song itself. This makes for the perfect combination in a James Bond theme song because it won the singer/songwriter an Oscar.
“Diamonds are Forever” by Shirley Bassey
The final song on this list brings us back to Shirley Bassey and her 1971 Bond theme song “Diamonds Are Forever.” Combining Bassey’s voice with the strong sounds of horns in this opening song, the song supplies the audience with a preview of the coming clash between suave sophistication and intense action scenes played throughout this edition of the Bond thrillers.
Though every theme song that is tied to the James Bond movies holds a sweet spot in the hearts of fans and music lovers alike, these are some of the best songs to date that represent the character and every changing presence of the leading man. Want more movie songs? Check out our list of the top songs from musicals.