The Best James Bond Themes Of All Time, Ever

Well, five of 'em...

Happy James Bond Day! Sharp suits, fast cars, innovative gadgets, megalomaniac villains, oh and the odd vodka martini (shaken not stirred!) all of this and more are synonymous with Mr double-oh-seven himself. 

“Bond, James Bond.” Arguably one of the greatest lines of dialogue in movie history (well, it’s at least up there with “May the Force be with you”, “I’ll be back”, and “Heeeeeerrrrrrrreeeeee’sssss Johnnnnnnnnyyyy!”)

The Best James Bond Themes Of All Time, Ever

To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the release of the first ever James Bond film Dr. No in 1962, Emma Harrison revisits five of the best James Bond theme tunes that should be on your Bond playlist. 

The franchise has given us over 25 opening numbers and whilst everyone has their favourite Bond (Connery! Craig! Moore!) It’s fair to say that everyone has their favourite James Bond theme song too. 

So, what makes the perfect James Bond theme song? Can the right composition help elevate and distil the experience of what lies ahead?

Out of the 25 James Bond theme songs, there are ones that have been spectacular and ones that have just left us shaken and not stirred. Sorry Lulu, Madonna and Sam Smith, we are looking at you here…

But, our (martini) glass remains half full as opposed to half empty, so for your eyes only, here are the most kick ass James Bond theme songs.

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

After a succession of soaring ballads, Paul McCartney and his merry crew decided to shake things up a bit and the result was ‘Live And Let Die’. Legendary producer George Martin also worked his magic on the production (as well as scoring the rest of the soundtrack for the film).

From the dramatic key changes to the rip-roaring guitars to the sublime orchestral break and the infectious refrain, it’s easy to see why ‘Live And Let Die’ is considered to be one of the best James Bond theme songs of all time.

It was the first Bond theme song to be nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars and it also attained a Top Ten chart position. You can’t deny the exhilarating, almost frenetic section that follows the slow intro then segues into the mesmerising (and admittedly unexpected) reggae section in the middle. 

The change in musical direction for the franchise coincided with the debut of Roger Moore in the film of the same name. ‘Live And Let Die’ was an integral part of McCartney’s rebound in a critical context in the early 1970s after being on the receiving end of some rather unfavourable press. 

Is ‘Live And Let Die’ the best song to emerge from the Bond franchise? 100% unequivocally yes!

‘No Time To Die’ –  Billie Eilish (2020)

Sometimes slow and steady wins the race and the newest of the James Bond theme songs – ‘No Time to Die’ by Billie Eilish – is the epitome of this ethos. It’s haunting, intoxicating and ominous all at the same time, especially thanks to its slow-building piano riff at the beginning.

Lyrically, this is on the nose for any Bond-esque theme song with emotive lyrics like “are you death or paradise / now you’ll never see me cry / there’s just no time to die” and that combined with the collaboration with Eilish’s brother, co-writer and producer Finneas O’Connell, the outstanding orchestral arrangements by Hans Zimmer and with legendary guitarist Johnny Marr lending his talents makes this a modern classic for the franchise. 

Billie Eilish with her delicate and understated delivery became the youngest artist in history to record a song for the Bond franchise and it also scored the biggest opening week of all time for a James Bond theme in the UK charts and in addition it garnered Billie her first ever UK number one.

‘A View To A Kill’ – Duran Duran (1985)

From the get-go, this doesn’t feel like an atypical Bond theme song and truth be told it’s not.

 ‘A View To A Kill’ catapulted Duran Duran to the top of the Billboard charts for the first time. The track was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, thanks to a heady combination of storming guitar riffs and synth-laden effects. Well, it was the 80s after all! 

Written and recorded for the James Bond film of the same name, the band famously threw their hat into the Bond-shaped ring after bassist John Taylor drunkenly asked to write the ‘theme song’ for the next Bond film.

Sure some of the lyrics are a little abstract and meaningless such as “dance! into the fire!” which frankly JB doesn’t have time to do when he’s too busy wooing the ladies, fighting antagonists and driving classic motors and so on. Time management aside, if you ignore the bonkers element of the song and take it for what it is – it’s a breezy, fun, and just a little bit tongue-in-cheek track that epitomises the eighties perfectly, especially at the end of the song’s accompanying video with that classic immortal line being delivered: ‘Bon… Simon Le Bon!’ 

‘Nobody Does It Better’ – Carly Simon (1977)

Carly Simon’s song truly personifies Roger Moore’s turn as James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me… It’s effortless, elegant and understated. 

This song sits on the right side of seductive and hero worship with a proclamation that ‘NObody does it better’. From the delicate, slightly whimsical piano intro, the song builds into something more substantial and satisfying with its soaring crescendo which is a musical metaphor for Bond’s sexual prowess and magnetism. 

The captivating power of his sexuality is reflected in the lyrics – ‘How’d you learn to do the things you do?’ …Well, it’s not Bond’s first rodeo is it?!

‘Nobody Does It Better’ is the perfect juxtaposition of vulnerability and sensuality and how with the right person, we can really fall under their spell.

‘Diamonds Are Forever’ – Shirley Bassey (1971)

Take one powerhouse and couple it with illustrious composer John Barry’s song for the movie of the same name. Shirley delivers the song in the most graceful and achingly-cool way. 

This iconic and dreamy song has been covered by many including Kanye West and Arctic Monkeys and is widely regarded as one of the most iconic James Bond songs. Shirley Bassey has performed more James Bond themes songs than any other artist.

Lyrically, the diamond is a metaphor for love and how love (the right kind of love) is eternal. Whilst the film itself may not have been one of Sean Connery’s finest, but at least this track delivered in spades (yes we are going for the playing cards puns!)

It’s sultry, evocative and groove-laden and is quintessentially the epitome of a classic Bond song.

October 5th is James Bond Day, and to celebrate Prime is hosting all 25 Bond films, alongside The Sound of 007: LIVE from the Royal Albert Hall.

Words: Emma Harrison

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