The next installment of Daniel Craig as British Secret Service agent James Bond is set for November 2015, and it looks like our newest 007 theme song diva will be Sam Smith. Unconfirmed reports indicate he edged out Lana Del Rey for the job.
It’ll make him the first openly gay singer to provide a Bond song. Fun.
Smith will be joining a pretty exclusive club by gracing the opening credits of the new film. It’s an impressive bunch to come before him, though not all the songs can be called “good” exactly.
These ones can, though.
Scroll down for a countdown of the 10 best Bond theme songs:
10. Alicia Keys & Jack White – “Another Way To Die” (Quantum of Solace, 2008)
This unusual pairing of talent paid off. The odd couple of brilliant songwriters delivered something rock enough to feel edgy for Bond, but still classy in its own right.
9. Louis Armstrong – “We Have All The Time In The World” (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969)
This was the last song Louis Armstrong recorded before he died, and rumor has it he laid it down in one take. There’s a bittersweet element to the track, perhaps because Louis’ own time was so close to being up as he sang “we have all the time in the world for love.” The song was rereleased in 1994 and got to number 3 on the UK charts.
8. Carly Simon – “Nobody Does It Better” (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977)
This song was a big hit for Simon, and in 1977 she was at the very top of her game. Cover versions can be heard in other flims — Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Little Black Book, Lost in Translation and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
7. Garbage – “The World Is Not Enough” (The World Is Not Enough, 1999)
Garbage did what a few artist before them had tried unsuccessfully to do and modernized the classic “Bond song” style. We hope Shirley Bassey was happy with this one, but more on her later.
6. Gladys Knight – “License To Kill” (License To Kill, 1989)
“I’ve got a license to kill, and you know I’m going straight for your heart.” The corny lyrics to this song set against a distinctly late-’80s synthesized soundscape are the exception to the rule. In this case, two wrongs definitely make a right.
5. Tina Turner – “Goldeneye” (Goldeneye, 1995)
Tina is the perfect seductive songstress in this mid-90s throwback to Bond’s classic late 60s, early 70s power ballads. Plus she can’t even be bothered to stand up for most of this video — she’s clearly confident the song does all the heavy lifting.
4. Madonna – “Die Another Day” (Die Another Day, 2002)
A new decade needed a new Bond sound, and Madonna served a track that worked in movie theaters and dance parties alike. We can’t be the only ones who had this one stuck in out heads for a few months.
3. Adele – “Skyfall” (Skyfall, 2012)
Adele was the perfect choice for a slicker, more stylized Bond. Her voice is simultaneously enormous and soulful, and the way she manages to incorporate the classic Bond theme is expertly done. And it’s just a damn good song.
2/1. Shirley Bassey – “Goldfinger” (Goldfinger, 1964) / “Diamonds Are Forever” (Diamonds Are Forever, 1971)
When you talk about Bond songs, there is only one real choice for number one. In this case, Shirley Bassey gets the one and two slots, for “Diamonds Are Forever” and “Goldfinger.” Shirley is the definitive image of a Bond diva — she created the template, after all. There’s a reason these songs feel iconic even decades after they were first heard in cinemas, and Shirley is it.
Jacked up list. Get rid of Madonna (forgettable pop not even deserving of “bond song” label gasp!) AND Gladys Knight (double gasp). Definitely toss out Garbage (song is garbage / they peaked on the Romeo and Juliet track which this sounds like). And as much as I like Alicia Keyes that song is utter crap and belongs on the 10 WORST bond song list.
I’m almost tempted to toss Adele as well since it just doesn’t ADD anything to the music and is classic, just almost too classic and too much of a copy of dame Shirley. Move it to #10 maybe.
I would add:
Thunderball – Bombastic Tom – sorta like a male Shirley in some respects and I love the beat
Live and Let Die – awesome Paul McCartney when he was still good.
For Your Eyes Only – Moves right behind Bassey – my personal favorite bond song.
You Know My Name – love Cornell’s voice and it was a great song that gets you pumped up for all the action to come.
And give Shirley the top 3 (yeah 3 – she’s earned it) with Moonraker.
Honorable mention to Duran Duran – if you’re gonna put 80’s pop in there, at least make it good 80’s pop instead of License to Kill.
So it’s more than 10 – Bond deserves it!
Charlie in Charge
Bassey may be the best but Goldeneye will always be my favorite (my first Bond movie).
I like Madonna but Die Another Day just didn’t feel like a Bond song – she was fun in the film itself, though.
Splendid list. I only wish Amy Winehouse had been in good enough health to join this fine group of singers with a Bond theme.
Definitely ditch Garbage and Gladys Knight to include For Your Eyes Only and Live And Let Die – both infinitely better songs. Also, Carly Simon’s Nobody Does it Better should move up to third place. Of all the Bond songs, it comes closest to being THE ultimate Bond theme, capturing both the nature of Bond as a character and the film series’ own tongue-in-cheek attitude to his sexual exploits. As great as the Bassey songs are, Nobody Does It Better actually says something about Bond, which few of the other songs do.
Ms Urethra Johnson
#1 Diamonds Are Forever – Shirley Bassey
#2 Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey
#3 GoldenEye – Tina Turner
#4 Skyfall – Adele
#5 To Live And Let Die – Paul McCartney & Wings
#6 Nobody Does It Better – Carly Simon
#7 A View To A Kill – Duran Duran
#8 You Only Live Twice – Nancy Sinatra
#9 For Your Eyes Only – Sheena Easton
#10 The Living Daylights – A-ha
#11 Tomorrow Never Dies – Sherryl Crow
#12 The Man With The Golden Gun – Lulu
#13 Licence To Kill – Gladys Knight
#14 Moonraker – Shirley Bassey
#15 Thunderball – Tom Jones
Honourable Mentions for “secondary songs”
#1 Surrender – K. D. Lang
#2 If You Ask Me To – Patti LaBelle
#3 We Have All The Time In The World – Louis Armstrong
Ms Urethra Johnson
Lana already has plenty of Bond sounding songs… maybe next installment (really hope so, perfect fit), plus she nailed the film thing with Young and Beautiful, the only good thing about that poopy soundtrack/film.
I think they wanted to give a chance to a local boy this time around.
Madonna’s was a “good” song, but not really dramatic/serious enough for the franchise’s image/mood.
I’ve always been “pissed” that K. D. Lang’s Surrender was only a secondary song. But I liked Sherryl too… must have been a very hard descision to make.
The strings in “You Only Live Twice” are the quintessential mood/progression of what most Bond songs after that were inspired from…
Dan, I guess you’re not a musician or DJ… or maybe too young? No offense intented.
Duran Duran was actually the ONLY #1 on Billboard for a James Bond movie theme song EVER, plus you had Grace Jones giving serious face in the music video…sooo…
Thanks for mentioning Garbage in this list. I absolutely love them and Shirley Manson would be one heck of a Bond villain
Ya I kind of hated leaving You Only Live Twice off my list because the thematic sound really fit in with the Asian locale of the film, but there could only be so many “favorites”. As much as I loooove my Miss Patti, I don’t think secondary songs count (and that one really is my favorite Patti Labelle song).
Heard Tina sing Goldeneye live on her Farewell tour a few years ago and it was just as awesome as when I first heard it in the theater.
Still kind of miffed at the short shrift the Academy Awards gave to the music from the films. I would have almost rathered have nothing than the junk they gave us.
If Sam Smith doesn’t wind up doing the song, I’m thinking someone like Hozier or the 1975 for something different. Elton John or George Michael could tear it up, too.
Take out the Alicia Keys/Jack White train wreck and the Gladys Knight mess that only had the Goldfinger riff going for it, and then you can put in Sheena Easton and Duran Duran, as well as bumping up Carly Simon a few notches, and then we can talk.
Kudos to mentioning classy entry The World is Not Enough, but Another Way to Die, Goldeneye and Die Another Day? Top 10? Are you friggin’ insane? It shouldn’t matter that they are sung by gay icons, they are awful awful awful Bond songs.
Alan down in Florida
@Ms Urethra Johnson: Well chosen. I don’t find anything to change around even if my personal favorite is Sheena Easton’s For Your Eyes Only which might be the best vocal she’s ever done.
Love me the Garbage classic!
How is “Live and Let Die” not on this list? Definitely a gross oversight. I also think “A View to a Kill” should be there, too. I do agree with Adele being one of the best Bond themes. I also like “For Your Eyes Only” a lot, even if it’s a very un-Bond sounding Bond theme.
How did Chris Connell’s “You know my name” not make any list in the main article or comments?
Shirley Manson makes the Bond song cool and edgy, she is so cool too. I hope Lana does it next even though Sam Smith has been apparently chosen for it. Would he be the first male singer?
Absolutely shocked at the Brosnan era being shown. The absolute worst era
Wheres Marr Munro? Nancy Sinatra? Sheena Easton? Duran Duran? A-Ha? Tom Jones? Chris Cornell? Wings?
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