This year marks the 60th anniversary of Ian Fleming’s James Bond movie franchise, and what better way to celebrate than a retrospective look at the top 5 James Bond theme songs?
Since the very beginning, the production of these iconic films, as well as their accompanying music has always been a prominent part of popular culture. Although the brand has always been consistent and rooted in tradition, it’s still very much part of the entertainment industry.
This leaves room for collaboration with some of the top artists, producers, and songwriters of the time who were able to evolve the formula, resulting in some of the most memorable movie themes of all time.
Which are the Top 5 James Bond theme songs?
There have been so many that caught our ears over the years, but without further ado, here are our Top 5.
Dr. No (1962)
It all started with the famous original theme from Monty Norman with that unmistakable guitar riff played by Vic Flick on his Clifford Essex Paragon De Luxe.
The way the big band-influenced arrangement with its chromatic chord sequence moved suddenly into the hooky swing jazz section signified to viewers that things were “about to get a bit messy” and the audience lapped it up.
We were instantly intrigued, and from that moment on the music became a completely inseparable aspect of the James Bond mystique.
Gibson ES-335 Satin Vintage Natural
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
John Barry was responsible for the music score composition throughout the first three decades of Bond films, working on several occasions with Shirley Bassey who was famous for her eccentricity during recording sessions.
A Neumann M49 was generally preferred for Bassey’s distinctive voice, although she is pictured with other microphones at different studios throughout her career.
The lyrics for Diamonds Are Forever were written by Don Black, and this theme was later immortalized when it was sampled by Kanye West in 2005 for his song, Diamonds From Sierra Leone.
Neumann M49V Set
A View To A Kill (1985)
For many, the 1980s marked the age of excess. So it only makes sense that, Duran Duran‘s theme from A View To A Kill would be the first Bond theme to top the Billboard charts.
The song was co-produced by Jason Corsaro and Chic‘s Bernard Edwards, who had just finished working on Madonna‘s Like A Virgin at the Power Plant in New York, with Nile Rodgers.
The reverse sample hits from the Synclavier are a key element that takes you instantly back to the time of massive hair and ridiculous recording budgets, or is it the other way around?
Although the project was originally pitched to Depeche Mode, the band was still on The Devotional Tour and was unable to fit the project into their schedule.
So instead, GoldenEye was written for Tina Turner by Bono and The Edge of U2 and produced by the phenomenal Nellee Hooper, who had just completed work on Massive Attack‘s seminal sophomore album, Protection.
Unsurprisingly, Turner actually disliked the sound of Bono’s demo initially, but warmed to the project over the recording process, delivering an unforgettable vocal performance.
No Time To Die (2021)
The pandemic era took the wind out of the sails of so many projects across the film industry, and No Time To Die was surely one of them. The theme song was released almost two years before the film, which is far from ideal in terms of marketing.
The dream team of Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell, and Hans Zimmer created a masterfully mature ballad that suited Billie’s delicate vocal style perfectly.
The lyrics have a definite edge for such a young songwriter, but I can’t help thinking of George W. Bush‘s “Old saying from Tennessee” speech.
Neumann TLM 103 Studio Set
That’s our Top 5, but what are your favourite Bond themes of all time? We’ve surely missed a few, so please let us know in the comments below!
More about James Bond:
*This post contains affiliate links and/or widgets. When you buy a product via our affiliate partner, we receive a small commission that helps support what we do. Don’t worry, you pay the same price. Thanks for your support!
- Vic Flick's Clifford Essex Paragon De Luxe: Invaluable
- Billie Eilish performing at Lowlands festival 2019.: Ben Houdijk