Chris Gelderd ranks the James Bond theme songs from worst to best…
Following in the footsteps of Sirs, Dames and music royalty, 18 year old American singer Billie Eilish will write and perform the theme song for the 25th James Bond film No Time To Die. With a collection of awards already under her belt such as American Music Awards, MTV Music Awards and Grammys, Billie has the credentials and appeal to bring 007 slap-bang into a new era.
With Hans Zimmer taking on composing the film score, Billie has the other equally daunting and (sometimes) credibility breaking role of giving us a theme song that not only compliments the film’s theme and content, but resonates for days, weeks and years to come as a memorable entry.
Writing and performing the three minute theme is an honour not given to just anyone. Those who have come before have a track record of being at the beating heart of music creativity, success and talent for their time. Yet just because the honour is bestowed upon you to launch a 007 film with a theme song, it doesn’t mean the world will automatically love it and rank you with the best.
Sometimes it goes perfectly and forms a symbiotic relationship with the film and 007 himself. Other times it goes horribly wrong, often for no fault of the singer, and just doesn’t reflect the Bond of that time and so fades away into obscurity, tarnishing the film it opens like a stain that can’t be removed.
As the youngest ever singer / songwriter to take on a Bond theme, and a track record of the Daniel Craig era 50:50 when it comes to popular themes, a lot rests on Billie’s shoulders.
But before her debut hits the big screen in April, we take a look back over a 58 year history of the Bond themes. Taking in numerous polls, opinions, charts and legacy, we present a countdown of the theme songs from worst to best.
Even though it’s hard not to include the often more popular secondary songs played during the film, such as ‘We Have All The Time In The World’ by Louis Armstrong, that become the unofficial theme, these are the definitive main themes that open each film as planned during production.
00-24 ‘Die Another Day’ (Madonna, Mirwais Ahmadzaï) from ‘Die Another Day’, 2002. Performed by Madonna.
00-23 ‘Another Way To Die’ (Jack White) from ‘Quantum Of Solace’, 2008. Performed by Jack White & Alicia Keys…
00-22 ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’ (John Barry, Don Black) from ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’, 1975. Performed by Lulu.
00-21 ‘James Bond Is Back/From Russia With Love/James Bond Theme’ (John Barry, Lionel Bart, Monty Norman) from ‘From Russia With Love’, 1963. Performed by John Barry.
00-20 ‘Writing’s On The Wall’ (Sam Smith, Jimmy Napes) from ‘SPECTRE’, 2015. Performed by Sam Smith.
00-19 ‘Moonraker’(John Barry, Hal David) from ‘Moonraker’, 1979. Performed by Shirley Bassey.
00-18 ‘For Your Eyes Only’ (Bill Conti, Mick Leeson) from ‘For Your Eyes Only’, 1981. Performed by Sheena Easton.
00-17 ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ (Don Black, John Barry) from ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, 1971. Performed by Shirley Bassey.
00-16 ‘All Time High’(John Barry, Tim Rice, Stephen Short) from ‘Octopussy’, 1983. Performed by Shirley Rita Coolidge.
00-15 ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (John Barry, Hal David) from ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, 1969. Performed by The John Barry Orchestra.
00-14 ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ (Sheryl Crow, Mitchell Froom) from ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’, 1997. Performed by Sheryl Crow.
00-13 ‘You Only Live Twice’ (Leslie Bricusse, John Barry) from ‘You Only Live Twice’, 1967. Performed by Nancy Sinatra.
00-12 ‘Thunderball’(Don Black, John Barry) from ‘Thunderball’, 1965. Performed by Tom Jones.
00-11 ‘The World Is Not Enough’ (David Arnold, Don Black) from ‘The World Is Not Enough’, 1999. Performed by Garbage.
00-10 ‘Skyfall’ (Adele, Paul Epworth) from ‘Skyfall’, 2012. Performed by Adele.
00-9 ‘GoldenEye’ (Bono, The Edge) from ‘GoldenEye’, 1995. Performed by Tina Turner.
00-8 ‘Licence To Kill’(Narada Michael Walden, Jeffrey Cohen, Walter Afansieff) from ‘Licence To Kill’, 1989. Performed by Gladys Knight.
00-7 ‘The Living Daylights’ (John Barry, Pål Waaktaar) from ‘The Living Daylights’, 1987. Performed by a-ha.
00-6 ‘A View To A Kill’ (John Barry, Duran Duran) from ‘A View To A Kill’, 1985. Performed by Duran Duran.
00-5 ‘You Know My Name’ (David Arnold, Chris Cornell) from ‘Casino Royale’, 2006. Performed by Chris Cornell.
00-4 ‘Nobody Does It Better’ (Marvin Hamlish, Carole Bayer Sager) from ‘The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977. Performed by Carly Simon.
00-3 ‘Goldfinger’(Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley, John Barry) from ‘Goldfinger’, 1964. Performed by Shirley Bassey.
00-2 ‘Live And Let Die’ (Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney) from ‘Live And Let Die’, 1973. Performed by Paul McCartney & Wings.
00-1 ‘James Bond Theme’ (Monty Norman) from ‘Dr.No’, 1962. Performed by John Barry & Monty Norman.
???? (Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell) from ‘No Time To Die’, 2020. Performed by Billie Eilish.
Where will Billie and her theme end up? Will she stand tall with the likes of McCartney, Cornell and Bassey? Will she simply coast along the middle ground, or is she doomed to be frowned upon like Madonna, White and Smith?
Stay tuned to Flickering Myth to find out…