12. Casino Royale
Casino Royale had some of the most elaborate gambling scenes in 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’s straight flush and a $1 million tip to the dealer.
The James Bond theme song had to support the grittier, more emotional Bond so they chose a strong male musician, American Chris Cornell, to write and produce the song along with David Arnold. You Know My Name was released in the winter of 2006 and peaked at number 79 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It reached number 64 on the Billboard Pop 100 chart and found its way onto charts across Europe. Its best performance was on the UK Singles Chart where it reached number seven.
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 U.S.
11. For Your Eyes Only
The theme tune to the 12th James Bond movie was For Your Eyes Only. It was written by Bill Conti and Mick Leeson, and performed by Scottish singer Sheena Easton who is the only singer to have ever performed a Bond theme song in the movie’s opening credits.
The single was released in June 1981 and shot to the top of the charts worldwide, earning a number four slot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and number eight on the UK Singles Chart. It was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards in 1982 and is still 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 number five in the UK and went all the way to the top in the band’s homeland of Norway. It’s still one of a-ha’s most played songs in live concerts.
The music video was shot at the specially-built 007 Stage in London and includes scenes from the film projected onto the band as they perform – an expensive, groundbreaking innovation at the time.
9. License to Kill
Coming in at number nine 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 number six on UK charts for 11 weeks and featured strongly in Europe, staying in the number one spot on the Swedish Singles Chart for eight weeks and hitting the top five in seven other European countries. It managed to reach number 79 on Canada’s RPM Top Singles chart but failed to make it onto the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
8. Die Another Day
Producers of the 20th 2002 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 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 number eight on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and was the U.S. top-selling dance song in 2002 and 2003. It 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 at number three. The hit earned Madonna a Golden Globe nomination 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 J.A.C. 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 5 hit in many other regions around the world. Its UK chart performance peaked at number two and took the number eight spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
The song garnered a number of awards from Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Brit Award for British Single of the Year, to a Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Song, Golden Globe, and Grammy Award.
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 the 1977 soundtrack is one of only two to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score (the other was Skyfall in 2012).
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 number two on the U.S. Billboard and stayed in the number seven spot for 12 weeks in the UK. It was 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 number five on our best James Bond theme songs list. The theme song to the 1973 Bond movie of the same name, 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.
It climbed to number one on major U.S. charts, took the second spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and reached number nine on the UK Singles Chart – making it the most successful Bond theme song at that point.
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 get to number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
Written by 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 number one in the U.S. and number two on the UK Singles Chart where it remained for three weeks.
Both Duran Duran and legendary Bond composer John Barry were nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 1986.
Goldfinger was composed by John Barry as the title tune for the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger. Lyrics were by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, and the song was performed by Shirley Bassey.
The single reached number eight and number two on the Adult Contemporary chart and took the number 21 slot in the UK. The song was honored by the American Film Institute as the 53rd top tune in American cinema, and in 2008 it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
The song is still performed at live shows in Las Vegas casinos and even if you prefer to play casino games online, try putting the tune on in the background the next time you play for some instant ambiance!
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 number one on the Official Singles Chart and became Smith’s fifth UK number-one single in two years. Not as popular in the U.S., it peaked at number 71 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at 43 in Canada while also charting in several European countries. It was a Gold release in the U.S. with sales in excess of 500,000 and took Platinum in the UK with sales of 626,000.
1. No Time to Die
Coming in at number one on our best James Bond theme song list is the 2020 release No Time to Die by Billie Eilish. The song 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 U.S. at number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached number one on the UK and Irish Singles Charts.
The hit brought in a load of firsts for Eilish. At 18 years old she was the youngest artist to write and record a James Bond theme song. No Time to Die 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 number one.
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 U.S. streams.
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