The Best Bond Theme Songs of All-Time: From 'No Time to Die' to 'GoldenEye'

Whenever a new 007 film is set to come out, speculation begins around who will be singing the Bond theme song. These tracks serve as introductions to the action, usually speaking about the movie's lead or foreshadowing dramatic twists to come.

In early years, these were mainly ballads accompanied by orchestras, although some of the 1960s songs sat firmly in the time they were recorded.

Of course, there was also the famous theme from Monty Norman, arranged by John Barry, which has accompanied the gun-barrel sequence in every movie except 2006's Casino Royale.

In the 1990s and 2000s, these songs mainly occupied a pop-rock space, though the more recent outings from Sam Smith, Adele and Billie Eilish have sought to return to the soaring vocals of the past.

Some songs, sadly, get forgotten as new movies and themes emerge, like Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name", the theme for Casino Royale, or Madonna's "Die Another Day."

Even "Thunderball", sung by Tom Jones, is not particularly remembered, while others have become iconic.

Newsweek have listed some of the greatest Bond themes ahead of No Time to Die, as well as what makes them so special.

Rita Coolidge - "All Time High" from Octopussy (1983)

Needless to say, the team at Bond decided not to use the movie's title in this song. The song is a classic 1980s ballad, with the sultry saxophone to begin proceedings. The lyrics are very romantic indeed, perhaps almost too much so given Bond's brutal way with the ladies.

Gladys Knight - Licence to Kill (1989)

Gladys Knight's song could be considered a little cheesy for a Bond track, but she brings some real style with those incredible ad-libs.

Adele - Skyfall (2012)

The first Bond theme to win an Oscar, Adele's Skyfall theme brought the franchise back to the sweeping, moody ballads of the early years, after more rock-focused soundtracks had dominated. Her song accompanied an opening sequence which showed graveyards and Javier Bardem's character, foreshadowing the plot.

Shirley Bassey - Goldfinger (1965)

Goldfinger broke the mold, despite only being the third movie in the franchise. The song was the first original song to be played over the opening credits, and featured Shirley Bassey's unmistakable vocals warning us to avoid Goldfinger's web of sin.

Billie Eilish - No Time to Die (2020)

Too often, new singers are tasked with Bond and find themselves abandoning their roots for a style which, though fitting for the film, may not reflect their own art. Billie Eilish is not one of these, instead using her understated vocals to build tension, until the orchestra explodes as Eilish's voice soars over the top.

Garbage - The World is Not Enough (1999)

Many have tried and failed to blend rock ballads with Bond, but this is really the best example. While it didn't manage to make it into the Billboard charts, it has a place in the hearts of Bond fans, though the film itself did not make quite the same impact.

Sheena Easton - For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Sheena Easton is the only singer to appear in the film's opening credits, singing while surrounded by various dancing women. The theme is another of its time, but the dreamy ballad reached Number Four in the Billboard charts.

Shirley Bassey - Diamonds Are Forever (1973)

The return of Sean Connery to the Bond franchise in Diamonds Are Forever needed a strong opening song. For the first time (discounting John Barry's various work) Bassey was the first to return as the singer of a Bond theme, and gave a gentler take on the classic tune.

Nancy Sinatra - You Only Live Twice (1966)

The opening to You Only Live Twice needed a moody, romantic song to follow, and Sinatra offered exactly that. The song is incredibly of its time, and featured the iconic violin riff which has been utilized many times since.

Paul McCartney and Wings - Live and Let Die (1973)

The song was very much of its age, starting with McCartney's voice over quiet piano accompaniment until things speed up with the famous guitar riff. The song then takes a turn into almost reggae before returning to the previous sections.

The song was unlike any other which had gone before, and has followed. It was the first Bond theme nominated for an Oscar.

Tina Turner - GoldenEye (1995)

GoldenEye leaves fans begging one question: how did it take this long to get Tina Turner to perform for the franchise? Written by Bono and The Edge of U2 fame, the song has sex appeal, drama and intensity: everything you could want from a Bond theme song.

Carly Simon - "Nobody Does it Better" from The Spy Who Loves Me (1977)

This was the first Bond theme song with a different title to the movie itself. It is jazzy, sultry and references The Spy Who Loved Me in its lyrics, sung incredibly by Carly Simon.

The new James Bond movie No Time To Die comes out on October 8, 2021.

Daniel Craig James Bond
Daniel Craig's final outing as James Bond in "No Time To Die" will be out on Friday October 8, 2021. Nicole Dove/DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM