For Your Ears Only − Ranking The 22 Bond Theme Songs From Worst − Sorry Jack and Alicia! − To Best

James Bond Theme Songs

Despite the silliness, sexism, and let’s face it, more than a handful of bad movies, James Bond has endured as a franchise for 50 years because deep down inside, all of us, at one time, wanted to be spies, and as anyone living vicariously through the movies knows, a good spy needs a great theme song. For better or for worse, presented below are all 22 James Bond title songs and sequences, ranked in order from worst to best. Get your martinis and Walthers ready, ladies and gentlemen…

22. Quantum of Solace

I’ve got nothing against Jack White or Alicia Keys, but yikes. This sort of mash-up is just not what James Bond is about. The grating production and completely asynchronous arrangement would be irritating as a standalone song: in a Bond film it’s borderline insulting. The visuals aren’t too great either, and look like some sort of digitally upgraded B-roll from The Mummy Returns.

21. Die Another Day

Fans said goodbye to Pierce Brosnan in 2002, and it’s hard to determine exactly how
many films he overstayed his welcome by. Rest assured, however, that Die Another
Day
will go down in history as one of the worst Bond films of the modern era, and
the cookie-cutter, auto-tuned, glitchy mess of a title track by Madonna (speaking
of stars who overstayed their welcome…) isn’t going to be fondly remembered any
time soon, either.

20. The World Is Not Enough

It’s hard to tell when performers began hoping a James Bond film would get them
exposure rather than the other way around, but it’s safe to bet that it was well
before Garbage performed the title track to 1999’s The World is Not Enough, since
I imagine the bulk of kids in the theater went “who?” when the phrase “title song
performed by Garbage” flashed across the screen. Still, the song is serviceable, and
the sequence impressively slick.
19. Moonraker

Ugh. Poor Shirley Bassey deserved better than this. After having her name attached
to one certifiably classic and one so-so Bond film, Moonraker had to go and mess
with the program. Clearly the producers insisted that Bassey drop the completely
unmusical phrase “Moonraker” somewhere into the track, and it’s laughably bad. I
would have just turned in a new cut of Goldfinger with the titles swapped out, but that’s why I’m not in charge of such things.

18. For Your Eyes Only

This song and sequence are notable only because they ushered James Bond into
the 1980s with plenty of appropriate glam and glitter, and because Sheena Easton
appeared in the opening sequence. Otherwise there’s not much else to say.

17. The Living Daylights

Remember A-Ha, better known as “that Norwegian band who did Take on Me”? Well, they had another hit song two years after their award-winner: the theme to Timothy Dalton’s on-screen debut as James Bond. It’s a nice synthed-out dance number, perfect for 1980s 007, but the visuals look like the director just turned on the camera, told the naked girls to writhe around, and then went to lunch. A little effort, people! (Bonus factoid: Joe Don Baker appears in this film, many years before his turn as a CIA operative in Goldeneye).

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Comments

  • Jake says:

    You Only Live Twice, or YOLT, as I like to call it, AT NUMBER 15?!?!?!?!?!

    I don't want to insult you, John Jarezahaoihdaos, but you must be insane. Of all the music ever created for the Bond series, this is the pinnacle of Bond-y Bond-iness. It's perfect. And it goes perfectly with Sean Connery hiding out as a Japanese man. This should be at least top 5. And you throw it down to 15? Beat out by Goldeneye? And OCTOPUSSY?!?!?!?!?!?!?! You should get some taste, bro. Seriously, that's ridiculous. Let me guess, you still giggle at the word Octopussy and that's why you ranked that terrible terrible song so high. RIDICULOUS!!!

    - Jake

    PS. Welcome to Movieline. If you have written any other articles, sorry I missed them. Or am I?

    PPS. This ribbing is meant to be good natured. I know everyone's list is going to be different and I'm just joking around with you... kind of. But seriously. When me and my friends talk about the best theme songs ever from the Bond movies, no one is talking about Goldeneye and everyone is swooning over YOLT. You need to rethink your inks on this one.

  • John Jarzemsky says:

    Thanks for the comment! YOLT got dropped only because I expected so much more for a Connery Bond film from Nancy Sinatra. It just felt kind of phoned-in. And I'm not a huge fan of Octopussy the flick, but "All Time High" is a great tune. You are correct in assuming this is my first column for Movieline. Look for others in the future!
    --J

    • Jake says:

      Your welcome. Look forward to other articles from you that we might disagree on... :)

      As for YOLT the movie, it has a nice level of cheesiness that I kind of miss from some of the older Bonds. And you are right that Connery feels like he's phoning it in. I mean, the whole set up is kind of ridiculous. But that song!!! Seriously such a great song.

      But many songs on your list are pretty fantastic. Diamonds are Forever should be a little higher, only because of the Kanye remix that I can't help but hear anytime I read or hear those words. And A View To A Kill was a great choice. It's just a great all around Bond film because of a couple of things. Duran Duran, Grace Jones, and Christopher Walken saying the word schedule as "Shedgul." I saw it a month or two ago and had forgotten just how bad the female lead was though. She was ditzy, even for a Bond girl. And that's saying something.

  • Kara says:

    Definitely agree with last place - that QoS song sounds like someone screeching to me. I remember wanting to walk out of the theatre until it was done.

    Music aside, I like the Casino Royale credits the best, if only because there aren't a bunch of naked women writhing around in it.

  • Shawn Gordon says:

    Ugh! This just reminds me of just how many lousy 007 themes there are, and that some people actually like that shite! This list is in all kinds of wrong order, for example "Nobody Does it Better" is a terrible song and horribly out of place for a Bond adventure. 007 themes should be all kinds of crazy sexy cool, it's a shame how often they fail to be any of the three.

  • Jay B. says:

    ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE "one of the most forgettable Bond films"? On the contrary, it's rep seems to grow every year.

    Disagree with a lot of your song rankings, too, but that's life. But I do have to say that "License to Kill" may have the dumbest lyrics of the series: "Got a license to kill anyone who tries to tear us apart..."

  • The Cantankerist says:

    Yes yes yes, VERY happy to see "Tomorrow Never Dies" somewhat belatedly getting the respect it deserves. Great vocal performance from Crow, and the strong, subversive, underappreciated lyric seals the deal, giving an overdue voice to the peril of the Bond girl. "Darlin', I'm killed / I'm in a puddle on the floor / Waiting for you to return." Listen to it again. It's a cracker.

  • badblokebob says:

    Any list that tries to rank the title sequences and the songs at the same time is doomed to failure, as this list most assuredly does. Maurice Binder seemed to lack almost any inspiration during the '80s, but that doesn't mean any of the songs are bad; I also don't care for the "greatest hits" montage of the OHMSS titles, but the main theme is absolutely tremendous; inversely, You Know My Name is a middling song, but the title sequence is arguably the franchise's absolute best.

    Any which way, there's no Bond film called "A License to Kill".

  • Stephen Seitz says:

    With a handful of exceptions, I would cheerfully chuck this whole list.

    The title theme to "You Only Live Twice" and its accompanying score are among the heights of cinematic music. This is a classic case of John Barry enhancing what might otherwise be one of the lesser Bond films. I have been studying cinema all my life, and to this day have yet to hear anything which transports me as this score does.

    As for the rest: the author is clearly a product of the video game age, which puts dazzle and graphics over content and total appreciation.

  • The Cantankerist says:

    Also, there should be a side-category award for They Might Be Giants' "Dr Evil" song from Austin Powers 2.

  • Brian Massey says:

    Hey John J.... I look forward to avoiding your articles in the future you knucklehead.

  • Jabod says:

    The reviewer's scathing comments about On Her Majesty's Secret Service are rather odd considering that it is nowadays regarded as one of the better Bond movies (81% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is better than most of the Moore and Brosnan movies and also the sub-par Connery flicks that came immediately before and after). Despite the public's dislike of Lazenby, the film had a strong plot, great alpine locations and chases, a memorable Bond girl in Diana Rigg, and the most poignant and memorable ending. Also one of the most rousing and atmospheric theme tunes.

  • Cubs Dan says:

    Casino Royale's by Chris Cornell is by far my favorite. I think it completely set the tone for not just the film, but the entire new era with Daniel Craig at the helm. But maybe that's just me. I also think the Quantum of Solace theme deserves at least a spot in the middle of the pack. There is some real garbage you put in front of it.

  • Cubs Dan says:

    Also, agree with Jabod. Except for Lazenby being in it (which yes, may seem Ironic since he was the title character), On Her Majesty's Secret Service is in the top 3 for Bond girls, plot, locale, action, finale, and I even think the theme is fine. Also, it's hard to criticize Lazenby too much - did he even have a chance to succeed in the first place following Connery? He's the guy who opened up the door for Moore and Craig to have the impact they have had.

  • Jeff says:

    That's not Die Another Day by Madonna playing over the credits in #21.

  • AndrewD says:

    I respect your try at the list. Here is mine: #1- Dr No , #2- Gold Finger , #3- You only Live Twice , #4- For your Eyes Only , #5- Nobody Does it Better , and forget the rest.

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  • Evelyn says:

    I pay a quick visit everyday some sites and sites to
    read content, however this website provides feature based articles.

  • Graham says:

    Whoever compiled this list knows NOTHING about movies or music!!!

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  • Renee says:

    Excuse you, but Die Another Day was my very first Bond Film, and I'll I can really say is that I disagree with your opinion. It is a wonderful Bond Film. Plus, that is not the opening song that you posted for it.

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  • Mike M. says:

    Tomorrow Never Dies at number 6 when it's the second best song in the movie? kd Lang's Surrender is the best Bond song bar none.

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