If you have ever seen any James Bond movie, you know there’s a different theme song for each one. Yes, they can all sound the same which is fine; there is a classic sound for the Bond movie franchise, thanks to John Barry, the original Bond theme composer.
Each Bond movie comes with a new Bond, city, bond outfits, car, and even Bond girls; it is not outlandish to think all this newness deserves a new theme song to follow. Loads of artists over decades of the franchise have lent their voices to bring to life the movie’s theme, its intensity, and, of course, its beauty.
Below, I have listed out every one of the Bond theme songs throughout the franchise’s history and the artists responsible for the magic of the Bond OST (Original Sound Track) for each of our favorite movies from the franchise. There’s a chance you might have even not realized which song was for which movie; fret not, this article will fill in every gap.
From the 1962 introduction of the movie franchise with “Dr. No” to the latest installment in 2021, “No Time to Die,” we have been blessed with fantastic song renditions from arguably the top singers and composers of each decade.
Best James Bond Intro Theme Songs Over The Years:
1. No Time to Die – Billie Eilish (2020)
“No Time To Die” is the soundtrack for the latest installment of the iconic film franchise. Although Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell wrote the song, Billie Eilish performed it.
The song got released in February 2020 at the Brit Awards, which was supposed to be the same schedule window for the movie. But the film had to be delayed to September 2021, a whole 18 months, primarily due to covid and how it affected the entire world and access to cinemas.
Regardless of the delay, the song still went on to do well, winning a Grammy even.
2. Sam Smith – Writing’s on the Wall (2015)
According to rumor mills, Sam Smith was not the first choice for this soundtrack. Reports suggest that the band Radiohead would take on the prestigious opportunity. Still, unfortunately, the movie producers decided not to go with their entry.
That was where Sam Smith came in to perform what many fans believe ranks high in the modern-day Original Sound Track business. The song “Writing’s On The Wall” was written by Jimmy Napes and performed by Sam Smith snatched two awards; Academy Award and Golden Globe, both for Best Original Song.
3. Adele – Skyfall (2012)
Adele is probably one of the most successful singers of her generation and perhaps the most decorated. So, it was a no-brainer for her to do this, especially after the success of her second studio album, “21”.
The soundtrack for the 2012 Bond movie “Skyfall” is the first one to snatch an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Brit Award for British Single of the Year, Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Song, Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, and the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media.
Safe to say, Adele made the Skyfall, and it rained plaques and awards.
4. Another Way To Die – Jack White and Alicia Keys (2008)
For the 2008 installment to the franchise, the producers called upon the frontman for White Stripes and American RnB superstar Alicia Keys. Jack White wrote the song was and performed it alongside the lovely Alicia Keys.
The movie “Quantum of Solace” met with mixed reactions, and frankly, so was the soundtrack itself, leaving critics and fans alike scratching their heads. The consensus was that it was not an excellent fit for a Bond movie; perhaps it did not feel in tune with the movie’s core.
5. Chris Cornell – You Know My Name (2006)
For the best Bond theme song since the movie “A View to A Kill,” the frontman for the Soundgarden and Audioslave had to pull out all the stops. The song wasted no time to become the most famous song of his career.
It was written and performed by Chris Cornell for the introductory movie for Daniel Craig’s Bond character. As far as theme songs and original soundtracks, “You Know My Name” ranks high among critics and fans alike.
6. Madonna – Die Another Day (2002)
It was 2002, Pierce Brosnan’s time as James Bond had ended, and the producers wanted to send him off with a high-profile singer doing the theme song. A gesture to show just how immense he was as Bond.
Their choice? Madonna. And in all honesty, they made the absolute right call because her theme song changed how Bond theme songs were going to be subsequently. Truly a trendsetter. The song also enjoyed a significant performance on the charts even though fans and critics received it mixedly.
7. The World Is Not Enough – Garbage (1999)
The last people you would expect to do a Bond theme song are hardcore rock stars, but in 1999 that changed,
Garbage was a Scottish-American rock band that was a massive deal in the late 1990s, and they wrote the original soundtrack for the 1999 movie “The world is not enough.” Surprisingly, their submission was a more classic version and was well-received by fans and critics. The song went on to reach number 11 on the UK charts.
8. Sheryl Crow – Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Here’s a bit of history for you, while Sheryl Crow gets credited for writing the theme song for “Tomorrow Never Dies,” the end credits do not feature the song at all. The music played at the end is K.D Lang’s music with the same title.
The thing was, this movie got a lot of entries for a theme song, and the producers had to comb through a whole lot to arrive at one. Ultimately they agreed to use two instead so as not to leave everyone out.
The song was not well received by fans or critics when it came out, but it did not stop it from getting Grammy and Golden Globe Nominations.
9. Tina Turner – GoldenEye (1995)
The 1995 Bond movie “Goldeneye” scarcely draws any parallels with the works of Ian Fleming, the author of the books the franchise draws inspiration from. But this does not reflect in the theme song.
Tina Turner performed the song “Goldeneye,” but U2’s Bono and The Edge wrote the song. The song’s success was so massive, and it garnered popularity for Tina Turner in Europe and across the globe. She later included the music in an album, Wildest Dreams.
10. Gladys Knight – Licence To Kill (1989)
For “Licence To Kill” (1989), the producers wanted to bring back Vic Flick, the guitarist who worked on the original Bond theme, and for Eric Clapton to both lend their writing expertise on it.
Once completed, Gladys Knight was contacted to offer stellar vocals to what became a massive hit in Europe and holds the record for the longest James Bond theme song to date, at 5 minutes,43 seconds. The song also features a horn sample from the Goldfinger theme song.
11. A-ha – The Living Daylights (1987)
The Norwegian Pop band was not the first choice for the Bond theme song, but A-ha got called in after a song by The Pet Boys was turned down by the studio.
It remains the band’s biggest song in Europe, thanks to the glowingly positive reception from fans, audiences, and critics alike.
12. A View To a Kill by Duran Duran (1985)
Legendary Bond theme song composer John Barry makes his mark on the 1985 movie “A View To A Kill.” And as a testament to just how good the song was, it peaked at number 2 in the UK singles charts for straight three weeks and got nominated for Golden Globe Awards for Best Original Song.
And of course, for John Barry, this was not his last, nor was it his first experience with the fame for a refreshingly successful Bond theme.
13. Rita Coolidge – All-Time High (1983)
Bond theme composer and all-around legend John Barry came back on the soundtrack production after taking a break. The theme song for “For Your Eyes Only” did not include him.
He, however, makes up for it with “All-Time High” for the 1983 movie “Octopussy.” It owns the honor of being the first Bond soundtrack to have an accompanying video. Rita Coolidge performed it. The song has a differing title from the movie’s because it was pretty challenging to write a song titled “Octopussy.”
14. For Your Eyes Only – Sheena Easton (1981)
The movie “For Your Eyes Only” did not call on its most famous composer, John Barry; instead, they went with Bill Conti. The song, which later went on to get an Academy Award nomination, was performed by Sheena Easton.
Blondie recorded the first choice for the movie’s theme, but the producers opted for the one by Conti. The song remains Easton’s most famous song to this day.
15. Shirley Bassey – Moonraker (1979)
Shirley Bassey is no stranger to the Bond theme song task, having already worked on two previous ones. For “Moonraker,” the plan was not to have her do it, which is a surprise considering her genuine knack for making Bond theme songs.
The producers offered the opportunity to make the bond theme song to big names such as Sinatra, Kate Bush, and Johnny Mathis, but none fell through. When the responsibility fell back on Bassey, it was on short notice, meaning she had to rush the song. It did not, however, diminish the quality.
16. Carly Simon – Nobody Does It Better (1977)
Carly Simon gets a chance to leave a lasting mark on the franchise and does not waste it. For the 1977 bond movie “The Spy Who Loved Me,” he performed “Nobody Does It Better,” making it the first Bond theme song not to be named after the movie since “Dr. No.”
The song enjoyed glowing reviews and was generally accepted, earning it a Golden Globe nomination and a placement as the 67th greatest movie song ever made.
17. Lulu – The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)
John Barry says that this is probably the song the legendary Bond composer wishes to wipe from memory. He considers it his weakest addition to the franchise and the body of music in general.
Lulu, the singer, performed the song but got remembered for going on and on about the movie villain’s “powerful weapon,” making it one of the franchise’s raunchiest inclusion. The song was not well received either; it did not even make it to the charts, whether in the UK or US.
18. Paul McCartney & The Wings – Live and Let Die (1973)
For the 1973 movie “Live and Let Die,” the Beatles icon Paul McCartney teamed up with George Martin to create a song that is one of the more iconic Bond songs and a true masterpiece.
At the time of the song’s initial release, it was the most successful and best-performing Bond song ever, reaching number 2 on the US charts and number 9 on the UK charts and bagging an Oscar nomination for Best Song.
19. Shirley Bassey – Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Shirley Bassey delivers an iconic performance for the 1971 Bond movie’s theme song of the same name, “Diamonds Are Forever.” But even with the song’s quality, it did not flatter or please producer, Harry Saltzman who insisted the lyrics had worrying innuendos.
20. Louis Armstrong – We Have All The Time in the World (1969)
This song got intended to be the secondary theme for the 1969 movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” And it still is, but it gets a mention on this list because of how good it was.
Louis Armstrong performs the song with the title “We Have All The Time in the World,” which is not the same as the movie’s title but takes its name from the final words of James Bond (George Lazenby).
21. Nancy Sinatra – You Only Live Twice (1967)
This song, for me, is the best Bond theme song; a lot of people agree with me, and there’s ample justification for it. The music by Nancy Sinatra has a uniquely striking opening which experts describe as “perfection.”
22. Tom Jones – Thunderball (1965)
This theme song was almost not going to get used as a Bond theme song, which would have been unfortunate since singer Tom Jones fainted while singing the final high note of the music. There was a song the producers would go with instead by Dionne Warwick and Shirley Bassey.
23. Shirley Bassey – Goldfinger (1964)
“Goldfinger” is the first of Shirley Bassey’s immense contributions to the Bond theme song catalog. It is probably one of her most iconic works on the franchise.
It is Bassey’s only song from her three Bond theme songs to break into the US top 40 and has the honor of getting listed as the 53rd best film song by the American Film Institute.
24. Matt Monro – “From Russia with Love” (1963)
Speaking of first tries, “From Russia With Love” is where we first witness the genius of John Barry working solo. Barry was the primary composer for the song, which cabaret singer Matt Monro performed.
The song featured in the movie was genius; first, the instrumentals played in the opening credits, then the full music is played on a radio in the film, and then in the end credits.
25. John Barry & Orchestra, Monty Norman – James Bond Theme (1962)
Arguably the most iconic movie theme song of all time, this piece by John Barry is responsible for literally every other Bond theme song to this day. It is truly iconic and features in the first Bond movie, “Dr. No” (1962).
Every Bond into or theme song has such a solid connection to the movie that it would be lazy and incompetent to dismiss them as random music. There is such a sheer amount of work put into the songs that sometimes goes missing in other musical pieces.
As a composer, writing a Bond theme song is a great honor and an even more incredible privilege to perform it as a singer. The Bond theme songs have been the melodic cement holding together each movie since its inception in 1962 with “Dr. No” and even in “No Time to Die” in 2021.