When it comes to the James Bond franchise, there is perhaps nothing more iconic to it than the title themes made for the opening credits of each film. From soulful, instant classics, to 80s pop-rock, to whatever the late 90s were, every Bond song is instantly recognizable. I’m here today to rank them, but not in a boring, how-good-are-they kind of way. I don’t know anything about music theory to do something like that. No, I’m ranking them based purely on how I vibe with them in spur-of-the-moment decisions.
A couple of points before I get started: First, these rankings are not indicative of the quality of the artist performing their respective tracks. And second, as Dr. No does not have its own song, there is no listing for it, but to have the rankings be a clean 25 entries I have included a song that was made for one of these films but was rejected. Which one? Well, you’ll have to read on…
25. “Writing’s on the Wall” – Sam Smith
A song that wishes it could be “Skyfall” but fails at being memorable in any way other than how bad it is. The worst kind of vibes.
24. “The Man with the Golden Gun” – Lulu
Film: The Man with the Golden Gun
This song is not good. At all.
23. “The World Is Not Enough” – Garbage
Film: The World Is Not Enough
This was sung by a band called Garbage and that’s indicative of its quality. The world does not have enough vibes to make this enjoyable.
22. “Die Another Day” – Madonna
Film: Die Another Day
Instead of a Bond song by Madonna, we got a Madonna song being used for a Bond film. That’s a big difference and it leads to the vibes just not being there in this one.
21. “Live and Let Die” – Paul McCartney & Wings
Film: Live and Let Die
The second worst Beatle performs one of the worst Bond songs whose only memorable feature is its opening. Let the vibes die.
20. “Tomorrow Never Dies” – Sheryl Crow
Film: Tomorrow Never Dies
The late 90s, early 2000s were not kind to Bond songs, and unfortunately, Sheryl Crow is not the right kind of singer to make this one work for what it needs to be.
19. “All Time High” – Rita Coolidge
They were cowards for not having this song be named after the film it’s featured on. Defeatist vibes.
18. “You Only Live Twice” – Nancy Sinatra
Film: You Only Live Twice
The most average of Bond songs. That’s all I’ve got. Perfectly average vibes.
17. “Another Way to Die” – Jack White and Alicia Keys
Film: Quantum of Solace
The opening guitar riff helps give this some pretty enjoyable vibes.
16. “Diamonds Are Forever” – Shirley Bassey
Film: Diamonds Are Forever
There’s a personal bias I have to all of Shirley Bassey’s Bond songs thanks to our shared Welsh heritage, but this is her weakest contribution to the series. The vibes were, unlike the diamonds, not forever.
15. “License to Kill” – Gladys Knight
Film: License to Kill
The legend that is Gladys Knight helps the song not come across as a Shirley Bassey clone, giving it a license to vibe all of its own.
14. “GoldenEye” – Tina Turner
It takes nearly a whole minute for Tina Turner to start singing, which means it barely makes its way into the top 15.
13. “Moonraker” – Shirley Bassey
While the song itself is great, this is from a film that sees Bond go to space at the tail end of the 70s. It should have been a disco track, even if disco was in its last days then.
12. “The Living Daylights” – a-ha
Film: The Living Daylights
I unequivocally love a-ha, so of course, I massively vibe with this one.
11. “Spectre” – Radiohead
Film: Spectre (Unreleased)
Here we have the bonus song I mentioned up top. Radiohead submitted this for use in, you guessed it, Spectre, but for whatever reason, the producers went with Sam Smith’s terrible track instead. The most hauntingly beautiful Bond song that never was.
10. “A View to a Kill” – Duran Duran
Film: A View to a Kill
It’s Duran Duran, and at one point they sing the lyrics “dance into the fire”. Shit fucking rules y’all. They should have called it “A View to a Vibe” amirite?
9. “For Your Eyes Only” – Sheena Easton
Film: For Your Eyes Only
Perhaps the hottest a Bond song has ever been. There are some very spicy vibes contained within. Bonus points for Sheena Easton actually appearing in the title sequence.
8. “Thunderball” – Tom Jones
Another Welsh artist means there’s a lot of bias towards this one, but once you learn that Tom Jones actually passed out while holding the astonishing final note, you can’t help but vibe with it.
7. “Goldfinger” – Shirley Bassey
For that brass section alone this gets the biggest possible chef’s kiss I can give. Some truly unbeatable vibes right here, which only reinforces how incredible the remainder of this list is.
6. “Skyfall” – Adele
Despite how frequently this was played on the radio when it was released, to the point of over-saturation, it’s hard to deny just how iconic “Skyfall” is. The vibes, as the kids would say, are lit.
5. “From Russia with Love” – Matt Monro
Film: From Russia with Love
Matt Monro’s voice makes me want to hop in a 1960s convertible Ferrari and drive down the Italian coast. Impeccable vibes.
4. “No Time to Die” – Billie Eilish
Film: No Time to Die
I don’t believe in recency bias, but if there ever was such a thing, then this is the deserving benefactor of it. I vibe so much with “No Time to Die.” Billie Eilish nails every single thing you need to make a Bond song iconic. I can’t wait to see it used in the film itself.
3. “We Have All the Time in the World” – Louis Armstrong
Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
One of the most romantic songs ever made. And I mean, how can you go wrong with Louis fuckin’ Armstrong? Great vibes, and based on a couple sneak peeks at Hans Zimmer’s No Time to Die score, seems to be featured quite heavily in the new release.
2. “Nobody Does it Better” – Carly Simon
Film: The Spy Who Loved Me
When they say nobody does it better, they mean it. Carly Simon understands the assignment like few others have. Not just excellent vibes, but one of the greatest Bond songs. The best kind of vibes.
1. “You Know My Name” – Chris Cornell
Film: Casino Royale
And here we come to the top entry, the title theme I vibe the most with. From the collaboration between Chris Cornell and composer David Arnold to its integration in the film itself as a proto-Bond theme, it’s hard to explain just how incredible “You Know My Name” is. 15 years on, this remains unsurpassed.
And lastly, I just want to end by giving a shout-out to Joe Cornish’s excellent parody song made for the release of Quantum of Solace. It never fails to make me laugh.