Nobody does it better: Ranking all James Bond theme songs

Over 60 years of films and over 60 years of terrific theme songs.
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The best Bond songs of all time

7. “Thunderball” – Tom Jones

Another almost direct rewrite of Goldfinger still makes for a titillating track, delivered with husky panache by the Welsh Wonder, Tom Jones. Despite somewhat unwieldy lyrics (having to rhyme with “Thunderball” was never going to be easy), this is one of the strongest melodies of any Bond song. Also, according to legend, Jones passed out while singing the last note of this song!

6. “Goldfinger” – Shirley Bassey

The archetypal Bond song. Saucy, gauzy horns lead into a gutsy performance from Shirley Bassey – the patron saint of Bond songs. Clever lyrics and ample use of the classic Bond theme set the tone for all Bond songs that came after it.

5. “Live and Let Die” – Wings

It pains me to put this so low (though Top 5 makes it no slouch) as The Beatles, and Sir Paul in particular, are near and dear to my heart. The orchestral segment by George Martin would’ve made the Top 10 by itself but coupled with Paul’s ruminative intro (the less said about the faux-reggae section the better), this beauty rounds out the Top 5 with ease. This was the first Bond song nominated for an Academy Award.

4. “A View To A Kill” – Duran Duran

The only Bond song to ever hit #1 on the charts, Duran Duran’s rollicking “A View To A Kill” has all of the usual Duran Duran tropes – great production, rhythmic guitar flourishes, stellar bass work, and over-the-top synth orchestra hits. While the film certainly lacked the dramatic punch of some of the best Bond films, the song more than makes up for it. And what a chorus: “Dance into the fire! That fatal kiss is all we need!”

3. “Diamonds Are Forever” – Shirley Bassey

Brought back into the popular lexicon by Kanye’s “Diamonds From Sierra Leone”, Shirley Bassey’s second Bond song is a stellar track described by Matt Gourley of the terrific James Bond-themed podcast James Bonding as “boudoir music.” That serves as an apt description – Diamonds is a haunting torch song of the highest pedigree. A sultry intro, great lyrics, and a lively, percussive climax make this one of the best Bond songs of all time.

2. “Skyfall” – Adele

The highest-grossing Bond film of all time also happens to have one of the best theme songs as well. String swells and a subtle piano line leads into a truly iconic chorus hook delivered with verve and panache by Adele. An amazing song in any sense – not limited by the bonds of Bond.

1. “Nobody Does It Better” – Carly Simon

And here it is, the best James Bond theme song of all time (which some might call an unorthodox choice). Starting with a descending honky tonk piano line and leading into a pristine easy listening ballad with the finest chorus hook of any James Bond song (except maybe for Skyfall), Carly Simon sings it all with aplomb. Wistful and nostalgic, this song perfectly sums up Roger Moore’s time as 007. This song’s placement in the film, following a spectacular stunt and a particularly patriotic English parachute, is also notable.

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