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Top 10 James Bond Theme Songs


James Bond films have developed a tradition of commissioning top contemporary singers and songwriters to produce theme songs for each film. Some of these have become major pop hit songs, and others are better left forgotten. This is a list of 10 of the best.

1. Paul McCartney & Wings - "Live and Let Die" (1973)

Courtesy United Artists

Paul McCartney had already proven himself as a master of the pop music suite with the #1 hit single "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" when the James Bond movie franchise came calling. He throws everything including the kitchen sink into this grand production then lightens it with pop-reggae breaks. This is Paul McCartney at his best, and it sounds just as good today as 30 years ago.

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2. Shirley Bassey - "Goldfinger" (1965)

Goldfinger - Soundtrack
Courtesy EMI

It's tough to give this classic second place. The song is great and Bassey's bravura performance is amazing.

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3. Carly Simon - "Nobody Does It Better" (1977)

The Spy Who Loved Me - Soundtrack
Courtesy EMI

Nobody spelled out the sexiness of the James Bond films better than Carly Simon. The song was written by Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager and holds the distinction of being the first Bond theme that did not carry the same name as the accompanying film. In this case, the film was The Spy Who Loved Me. Radiohead's Thom Yorke has declared onstage that "Nobody Does It Better" is "the sexiest song that was ever written."

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4. Adele - "Skyfall" (2012)

Adele - "Skyfall"
Courtesy Columbia

Adele digs in to the classic sound of such James Bond themes as "Goldfinger" and "Diamonds Are Forever" while also echoing the ominous atmosphere of "Live and Let Die." The result is the best James Bond theme in decades. With the name of Adele attached, the song instantly flooded pop radio and stormed the digital sales charts.


5. Nancy Sinatra - "You Only Live Twice" (1967)

You Only Live Twice - Soundtrack
Courtesy United Artists

In contrast with many Bond themes, "You Only Live Twice" is more of a moody ballad than a brassy attention-getter. Nancy Sinatra's performance and a memorable melody help it stand out from the crowd. This classic was sampled on Robbie Williams' hit "Millenium."

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6. Duran Duran - "A View to a Kill" (1985)

A View to a Kill - Soundtrack
Courtesy EMI

Many prognosticators predicted disaster when the new wave pop band Duran Duran were enlisted to record a Bond theme song. Despite predictions, this is one of the best, and it is the only Bond theme to hit #1 on the pop singles chart in the US. Simon Le Bon's sexy and dramatic vocal performance carries the day.

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7. Shirley Bassey - "Diamonds are Forever" (1972)

Diamonds are Forever - Soundtrack
Courtesy EMI

Kanye West re-introduced the world to this classic when he used it as the base for his recording "Diamonds From Sierra Leone." In the mode of "Goldfinger," it's another big, brassy performance from Ms. Bassey.

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8. Chris Cornell - "You Know My Name" (2006)

Casino Royale - Soundtrack
Courtesy Sony

The most recent Bond theme from Casino Royale is a keeper. Chris Cornell is best known as the lead vocalist for Soundgarden and Audioslave. It's unique among the other themes in being a true rock song and being the first theme sung by an American male vocalist.

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9. Tom Jones - "Thunderball" (1966)

Thunderball - Soundtrack
Courtesy Capitol Records

The follow-up to "Goldfinger" was originally intended for Shirley Bassey, but the producers settled on Welsh performing legend Tom Jones. It's not as memorable as "Goldfinger," but it's still a pleasing addition to the James Bond canon.

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10. Sheena Easton - "For Your Eyes Only" (1981)

For Your Eyes Only - Soundtrack
Courtesy EMI

Sheena Easton was a hot new singer coming off her very first pop smash "Morning Train" when she was tapped to record a Bond theme. "For Your Eyes Only" is a bit dated, but the memorable melody still lingers in the brain.

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