All 24 James Bond theme songs ranked from worst to best

5 October 2020, 12:16

Shirley Bassey, Tina Turner and Adele have all sung James Bond themes
Shirley Bassey, Tina Turner and Adele have all sung James Bond themes. Picture: Getty/Columbia

By Tom Eames

It's not long before we'll be enjoying the 25th outing for James Bond at the cinema, and we can't wait. Well, hopefully.

But before we don our finest suit and order a martini for No Time To Die in 2021, we thought that was a good excuse to look back at Bond's previous adventures.

And what's the most important thing about a new Bond movie, we hear you ask? The theme tune of course!

See our official ranking below to see if you agree:

  1. Rita Coolidge - 'All Time High' (Octopussy)

    Yep, it's the one you probably forgot about and normally have to look up which film it was the theme tune for.

    It's not a bad song at all, in fact it's a cracking '80s sax-fest. But it's just not a great Bond theme in comparison to the rest. It sounds like it should be the theme to a Moonlighting spinoff.

  2. Shirley Bassey - 'Moonraker'

    Compared to Shirley's previous efforts ('Goldfinger' and 'Diamonds Are Forever'), this was a sadly forgettable theme. Sorry, Shirls. Brilliant chorus, though.

  3. Lulu - 'The Man with the Golden Gun'

    Another example of when the theme tune was one of the best parts of the movie in question, and this time it was Lulu's turn.

    However, composer Barry wasn't a fan, later saying: "It's the one I hate most... it just never happened for me."

  4. Madonna - 'Die Another Day'

    Disclaimer: We have a strange soft spot for this bonkers Bond theme from the Queen of Pop, but...

    While it was amazing to secure one of the biggest popstars of all time, the choice to go down the electropop route with lines such as "Sigmund Freud: analyse this", was just an odd way to go for Bond.

  5. Sam Smith - 'Writing's on the Wall'

    Now, this is a beautiful ballad by Sam Smith, but it just doesn't quite sound like a Bond theme.

    It's got all the moody strings and all, but it doesn't really go anywhere. Sam's voice is hauntingly brilliant as ever, though. It was however the first Bond theme to finally go to number one in the UK.

  6. Matt Monro - 'From Russia With Love'

    The first 'proper' Bond theme came from the UK's answer to Frank Sinatra, and was composed by Oliver!'s Lionel Bart.

    An old school take on a Bond theme, it describes the plot of the movie without delving into the innuendo nature of later tunes.

  7. Sheena Easton - 'For Your Eyes Only'

    Like 'Nobody Does It Better' before it, this '80s ballad is able to exist as a genuinely great love song in its own right.

    Dusty Springfield and Donna Summer were also considered before newcomer Easton was selected, and she remains the only singer to actually appear in the movie's famous intro.

  8. Garbage - 'The World is Not Enough'

    Lyricist Don Black teamed up with composer David Arnold for this Brosnan-starring title track, taking Bond into the late '90s alt-rock era.

    Like Sheryl Crow before, it may have been forgotten in comparison to others, but it's one of the hidden gems of the Bond theme oeuvre.

  9. Billie Eilish - No Time To Die

    After a highly successful couple of years, 18-year-old became the youngest person ever to write and record a James Bond theme song.

    A moody and dark theme that doesn't quite have the bombastic nature of classic Bond themes, it's a refreshing take on the genre and one that will potentially sum up Daniel Craig's final outing as 007.

  10. Jack White and Alicia Keys - 'Another Way to Die' (Quantum of Solace)

    In a rather forgettable Bond outing, this was one of the few shining lights for Craig's second film.

    It's a bit of a Marmite song, with a pairing that we would never have thought of at the time, but the pounding piano and guitars are so awesome that it works.

  11. Sheryl Crow - 'Tomorrow Never Dies'

    KD Lang also recorded a song of the same name written by the movie's composer David Arnold, but this track by Sheryl Crow was chosen instead, with KD's slipped into the end credits.

  12. Tom Jones - 'Thunderball'

    What do you do after the success of Shirley Bassey's 'Goldfinger'? Get another Welsh powerhouse!

    While Tom Jones's effort isn't as well remembered as others, we'd argue this is an underrated song that's so much fun and couldn't be more '60s Bond if it tried.

  13. Shirley Bassey - 'Diamonds Are Forever'

    After critics weren't too kind with Lazenby's Bond at the time, the next instalment went back to the drawing board and brought back not only Sean Connery, but Shirley Bassey too.

    The theme tune was the best thing about the movie, with the lyrics written by the legendary Don Black.

  14. A-ha - 'The Living Daylights'

    After the success of Duran Duran, the first Timothy Dalton movie secured the services of another huge '80s band for the theme tune.

    While not quite as great as its predecessor, it was a brilliant way to usher in the new moody era of 007.

  15. Chris Cornell - 'You Know My Name' (Casino Royale)

    For Daniel Craig's first Bond movie, composer David Arnold worked with Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell on the main theme.

    It was an offbeat choice of artist compared to what came before, but it's underrated rocker that definitely deserves more love.

  16. Nancy Sinatra - 'You Only Live Twice'

    This was the first time Bond went a bit melancholic with its theme tune, and it worked brilliantly.

    Its famous opening strings were famously later sampled by Robbie Williams on his 1998 hit 'Millennium'.

  17. Louis Armstrong - 'We Have All the Time in the World' (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)

    OK, this was technically not the main theme tune for George Lazenby's single outing as Bond, but it's far more memorable than its instrumental title track.

    An ageing Louis was the surprise but perfect choice for this ballad, and was chosen by John Barry because he felt he could "deliver the title line with irony". The title line is taken from Bond's final and emotional quote in the movie.

  18. Carly Simon - 'Nobody Does it Better' (The Spy Who Loved Me)

    One of the few Bond themes which you can actually listen to as a downright amazing pop tune before you think about 007 at all.

    The power ballad broke away from the George Martin or John Barry mould of writing Bond themes, and it was a breath of fresh air.

    Extra points for always making us think of Alan Partridge with those 'clang-a-lang''s.

  19. Tina Turner - 'GoldenEye'

    For Pierce Brosnan's first Bond movie, they went for the tried and tested formula of landing a lendary soul icon to belt it out, and man it was amazing.

    You may not have realised that it was written by... U2's Bono and The Edge!

  20. Adele - 'Skyfall'

    There was only one person who was going to record the theme tune for Daniel Craig's third movie in 2012 (though Muse gave it a very good go too that year).

    It became one of the best-selling singles of all time, won an Oscar and is basically the most successful Bond theme ever.

  21. Gladys Knight - 'Licence to Kill'

    We reckon this Gladys Knight belter is an underrated gem of a Bond theme that harks back to the Shirley Bassey classics of old, bringing it smack bang into the late '80s.

    Try not banging along to the chorus, we bet you can't.

  22. Shirley Bassey - 'Goldfinger'

    This was the song that made James Bond's theme music come alive. In the first two movies, they were something of an after thought, but Shirley's theme tune to 'Goldfinger' went POW!

    Co-written by crooner Anthony Newley, the song was inspired by 'Mack the Knife' and was produced by Beatles legend George Martin.

  23. Duran Duran - 'A View to a Kill'

    After a somewhat strange choice the previous year in Rita Coolidge, they stepped it up a notch for Roger Moore's last movie, by hiring the biggest band on the planet.

    Written by the band alongside John Barry, it remains the only Bond theme to score a US number one.

  24. Wings - 'Live and Let Die'

    It was a stroke of genius hiring Paul McCartney's new band to record the theme tune to Roger Moore's first Bond.

    Even with the strange breakdown in the middle of the track, you can't argue that this song has something truly special and timeless about it.