James Bond movies tend to have a familiar formula, no matter who the directors or actors are involved. Fans can expect spectacular scenes featuring casino table games, luxury fast cars and much thrilling action. We might also expect a killer piece of music that truly captures the spirit of the film to accompany the opening credits (which are often visually elaborate, and “drop” after the first action sequence.) Let’s take a look at some of the top-earning 007-themed songs. You could even use our list to make a playlist for the next time you play online poker!
12. Casino Royale
The 2006 version of Casino Royale had some of the most elaborate gambling scenes in the Bond franchise history. This time, directors chose to introduce a more aggressive and complex Bond, played by Daniel Craig, by setting him against a typically sinister villain in a classic casino game of Texas Hold’em poker that ends with Bond landing a straight flush and suavely handing a $1 million tip to the dealer.
The movie’s theme song had to support the grittier, more emotional Bond, so the filmmakers chose a strong male musician, American Chris Cornell, to write and produce it, along with film composer David Arnold. “You Know My Name” was released in the winter of 2006 and peaked at No.79 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It also reached No.64 on the Billboard Pop 100 chart and found its way onto charts across Europe. The song’s best performance was on the UK Singles Chart, where it reached No.7.
The single sold 148,000 copies in 2006 in the UK and by 2017 had sold 323,000 digital copies with 3.5 million streams in the US.
11. For Your Eyes Only
The theme tune to the 12th James Bond movie was the eponymously titled “For Your Eyes Only.” It was written by Bill Conti and Mick Leeson, and performed by Scottish singer Sheena Easton who is the only person to have ever performed a Bond theme song in a movie’s opening credits.
The single was released in June 1981 and shot to the top of the charts worldwide, earning a No.4 slot on the US Billboard Hot 100 and No.8 on the UK Singles Chart. It was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards in 1982, and remains one of the biggest hits of Easton’s career.
10. The Living Daylights
Norwegian pop group A-ha performed the signature tune for the 1987 installment of the Bond franchise. “The Living Daylights” was written by guitarist Pål Waaktaar and released in the summer of 1987. It peaked at No.5 in the UK and went all the way to the top in the band’s homeland. It’s still one of A-ha’s most played songs in live concerts.
The music video was shot at the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios in the English county of Buckinghamshire and included scenes from the film projected onto the band as they performed – an expensive, groundbreaking innovation at the time.
9. Licence to Kill
Coming in at No.9 on our best James Bond theme song list is “Licence to Kill,” performed by Gladys Knight for the 1989 movie of the same name. The song was written by Jeffrey Cohen, Narada Michael Walden and Walter Afanasieff, and released in May 1989.
The tune peaked at No.6 on UK charts for 11 weeks and featured strongly in Europe, staying in the No.1 spot on the Swedish Singles Chart for eight weeks and hitting the top five in seven other European countries. It managed to reach No.79 on Canada’s RPM Top Singles chart, but failed to make it onto the US Billboard Hot 100.
8. Die Another Day
Producers of the 20th James Bond installment, Die Another Day, wanted a high-profile singer to perform the theme song and they definitely got this in Madonna. The theme tune for the 2002 film was written and produced by the American pop sensation, along with Mirwais Ahmadzaï and French composer Michel Colombier.
“Die Another Day” was released as a single in October 2002 and, although it drew mixed responses from music critics, the song reached No.8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was the US top-selling dance song in 2002 and 2003. It also climbed to the top of the charts in Canada, Italy, Romania and Spain, and made the top 10 in several countries around the world, including the UK, where it got to No.3. “Die Another Day” also earned Madonna nominations for a Golden Globe and two Grammys.
English singer and songwriter Adele performed one of the top-earning James Bond theme songs of all time – “Skyfall,” for the 2012 movie of the same name. Written by Adele and producer Paul Epworth with orchestration by JAC Redford, the award-winning song captured the movie’s plot with lyrics that were dark and moody.
Fans and critics were unanimous in their praise of “Skyfall,” and the song topped the charts in 11 countries and was a top five hit in many other regions around the world. Its UK chart performance peaked at No.2 and took the No.8 spot on the US Billboard Hot 100.
The song scooped a clutch of awards, including an Academy Award for Best Original Song and a Brit Award for British Single of the Year, as well as the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Song, a Golden Globe and a Grammy.
“Skyfall” is not only a James Bond classic, it’s one of the best-selling digital singles of all time with more than 7.2 million sales worldwide.
6. The Spy Who Loved Me
The Spy Who Loved Me was the 10th Bond movie and its 1977 soundtrack is one of only two to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score (the other being “Skyfall.”)
Composed by Marvin Hamlisch with lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager and performed by Carly Simon, the theme song “Nobody Does it Better” was the first to not carry the title of the movie. It shot to No.2 on the US Billboard and stayed in the No.7 spot for 12 weeks in the UK. The song was also nominated for an Oscar, Golden Globe and two Grammys.
It has remained a popular tune, reappearing in a number of successful movies over the years and earning the honor of being voted the 67th greatest film song as part of the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Songs countdown.
5. Live And Let Die
“Live And Let Die” earns its spot at No.5 on our best Bond theme song list. It was written by Paul McCartney and his wife Linda, and performed by their band, Wings. McCartney worked again with former Beatles producer George Martin to produce the song for the 1973 Bond movie of the same name.
It climbed to No.1 on major US charts, took the second spot on the US Billboard Hot 10, and reached No.9 on the UK Singles Chart – making it the most successful Bond theme song to date.
4. A View To A Kill
The theme song for the 1985 Bond movie, A View To A Kill, was the only Bond song to ever reach No.1 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
Written by legendary Bond composer John Barry and performed by English new-wave and synth-pop band Duran Duran, the song was recorded at Maison Rouge Studio and CTS Studio in London with a 60-piece orchestra. It was released in May 1985 and hit No.1 in the US and No.2 on the UK Singles Chart, where it remained for three weeks.
Both Duran Duran and Barry were nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 1986.
“Goldfinger” was composed by John Barry (him again!) as the title tune for the 1964 Bond classic of the same name. Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley wrote the lyrics, and Shirley Bassey performed the song.
The single reached No.8 in the US Billboard Hot 100 and No.2 on the Adult Contemporary chart and took the No.21 slot in the UK. The song was also honored by the American Film Institute as the 53rd top tune in American cinema and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.
“Goldfinger” is still performed at live shows in Las Vegas casinos but if you prefer to play casino games online, try putting the tune on in the background the next time you play for some instant ambience… It might inspire you to choose the right type of casino game to bring you some good fortune!
Sam Smith’s “Writing’s On the Wall” was the theme song for the 2015 Bond installment, Spectre. It was the first Bond theme to reach No.1 on the UK Official Singles Chart and became Smith’s fifth UK No.1 single in two years. Not as popular in the US, it peaked at No.71 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at No.43 in Canada, while also making the charts in several European countries. “Writing’s On the Wall” became a Gold release in the US, with sales topping 500,000, and took Platinum in the UK where it managed sales of 626,000.
1. No Time To Die
Coming in at No.1 on our list is “No Time To Die” by Billie Eilish. It was created for the Bond movie of the same name, and was released through Darkroom and Interscope Records in February 2020.
The song debuted in the US at No.16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached No.1 on the UK and Irish Singles Charts.
The hit brought in a load of firsts for the American singer-songwriter. At 18 years old, Eilish was the youngest artist to write and record a James Bond theme song. “No Time To Die” also became her first number-one single in the UK and Eilish set a record for the first artist born in the 21st century to top the chart. The song also claims the biggest opening week for a Bond theme with 90,000 chart sales and 10.6 million streams to debut at No.1.
“No Time To Die” is now the top Bond theme song on the Digital Song Sales chart, with 25,000 downloads sold in its first week of release and 20.6 million US streams.
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