Top 10 James Bond Theme Songs

With the memory of Spectre still fresh, Luke Miksa breaks down his definitive list of Bond tunes.

Spectre, the 24th James Bond film, has been out for a few weeks now to mixed reviews. I personally liked it, despite its flaws, but one thing that disappointed me was the new theme song from Sam Smith, “The Writing’s On The Wall”. This is a track which lacks excitement and is, frankly, just a little bit boring.

Don’t give me that look, Sam Smith, with your George Michael earrings and perfect voice.

Look, it’s definitely not the worst Bond theme ever produced — that honour goes to Madonna‘s “Die Another Day” (yuck!) — and it’s got some nice Bond-esque orchestration, but it is mid-tier in the canon of Bond themes. It’s especially apparent since Spectre is where modern-era Bond finally embraces some of the sillier tropes of the franchise, the song’s lovelorn lyrics simply do not resonate (much like the love story of Spectre itself).

There is a rich history of Bond music ever since that weird calypso version of “Three Blind Mice” from 1962’s Dr. No, so I have scoured the 50-plus year history to present you the Top 10 James Bond Theme Songs:

Note: The classic James Bond Theme is out of the running, because it is ubiquitous with every film. Dr. No, you’re cut.

10. “You Know My Name” Chris Cornell – Casino Royale (2006)

This song fits the era so well. Daniel Craig‘s debut as James Bond in Casino Royale was designed to update the character for modern audiences in a post-Jason Bourne world. As was the style at the time, the Bond franchise was to get its very own “gritty reboot”, highlighting a raw an inexperienced 007 for the very first time.

“You Know My Name” captures that tone perfectly, with classical Bond pomp and circumstance dropped for an appropriately grungy number from Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell. This was James Bond, but as you’ve never seen him before. You know my name, indeed.

9. “Nobody Does It Better” Carly Simon – The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

A guilty pleasure. At this stage, Roger Moore was halfway through his stint as 007, and the movies themselves had skewed into the quip-laden, ‘wink wink’ nature that was synonymous with his run. “Nobody Does It Better” is one of the more commercially successful Bond songs, and is among singer Carly Simon‘s most popular songs (that aren’t about Warren Beatty).

If we’re talking about bedding babes and thwarting criminal geniuses, it’s true that nobody does it better than James Bond. But The Spy Who Loved Me wound up being Moore’s highest grossing and critically acclaimed film, so really, when it came to making successful movies, nobody did it better. Top marks for confidence.

8. “Thunderball” Tom Jones – Thunderball (1965)

It doesn’t matter that it may be riffing a little too hard on Shirley Bassey‘s ultra-iconic “Goldfinger”; the smooth, smooth tones of Tom Jones on “Thunderball” just can’t be matched. An early and reliable James Bond classic from the vintage Sean Connery era of films.

7. “The World is Not Enough” Garbage – The World is Not Enough (1999)

Proof that a sub-par Bond film doesn’t necessarily make a sub-par Bond theme song. An out-of-the-box artist choice in pop-grunge band Garbage to perform “The World is Not Enough” made a surprisingly fluid collaboration. The Pierce Brosnan era was quickly heading to camp territory (landed there by Die Another Day), but this track juxtaposed by being unusually moody and dark.

6. “A View to a Kill” Duran Duran – A View to a Kill (1985)

Cheesy 80’s synth-pop heaven. Duran Duran were flying high in 1985, and their style was shockingly appropriate for the now much older Roger Moore‘s swan song in the tux. Catchy hooks were a Duran Duran specialty, and “A View To A Kill” is the biggest earworm on this list. This song is just an 80’s pop classic, you guys, plus you can dance to it: a Bond rarity.

5. “Skyfall” Adele – Skyfall (2012)

Adele‘s voice was made for a Bond theme, and “Skyfall” is a throwback to the 60’s era Shirley Bassey belters. Amazing orcestration, subtle integration of Bond motifs, and incredibly melancholy; it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2013 and rightly so. Skyfall was a monster blockbuster and this song brought back some of that vintage old-school cool that the franchise has always been known for. The best track from the Daniel Craig era thus far.

4. “Live and Let Die” Paul McCartney & Wings – Live and Let Die (1973)

One of Wings most popular songs, and a terrific way to re-introduce the Bond character in Roger Moore‘s very first outing. Having Paul McCartney perform your title track was sure to get noticed, and this was the first time you could really rock out to a Bond tune. It’s also perfectly sets the tone for the voodoo hijinks that drive Live and Let Die, a cheeky favourite Bond film.

3. “Tomorrow Never Dies” Sheryl Crow – Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Another amazing track from the Pierce Brosnan era from an unexpected artist. Sheryl Crow is mostly known as a pop/folk/country singer: definitely not what you expect from a Bond theme song. But there’s just something about her raspy vocals mixed with the fairly dark lyrics which make “Tomorrow Never Dies” so memorable. This is the most re-playable song on the list, unlike the film which is a tad ordinary.

2. “Goldfinger” Shirley Bassey – Goldfinger (1964)

The ultimate classic. Shirley Bassey is the queen of the James Bond theme, having also performed the title tracks from Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker (“Diamonds are Forever” just missed the cut), but “Goldfinger” is the gold standard of Bond themes. This is one of the most iconic pieces of music associated with the character, and a damn cool, sexy number. All Bond themes from this point forward used “Goldfinger” as their template (with obviously mixed results).

1. “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” The John Barry Orchestra – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

Out of left field! An actual instrumental tops the list in a choice that is sure to leave you shaken and stirred.

There have only been two times when the Bond theme has had no lyrics: composer Monty Norman‘s classic James Bond Theme from Dr. No (performed by John Barry), and the title track from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service composed and performed by John Barry.

Both Barry tracks are quintessential Bond themes, and carry with them the essence of the character. Never mind the fact On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is one of the most criminally underrated films in the Bond canon, largely due to it being the sole outing of George Lazenby as 007. Give OHMSS a chance, people! It’s a film which delves into the psyche and relationships of James Bond, well before the current era made it cool.


You’ve got to give credit to the Bond franchise, their opening credits sequences — whether of quality or not — are iconic and memorable, and always a talking point of every release. They should be especially commended and treasured in the current landscape of films which shy away from opening sequences altogether. Bring back opening titles, Hollywood!

Which entries do you not agree with? Did I fail to include your favourite? The comments are below, and as always, Facebook and Twitter.

James Bond Gun barrel

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