Best James Bond Songs

The James Bond franchise has given the world more classic songs than any other film franchise. Since Matt Monro sang the title song of From Russia with Love in 1963, theme songs have been one of the most cherished elements of the James Bond films. Let’s look back at the best James Bond songs.

Goldfinger poster | LMPC via Getty Images

Adele – ‘Skyfall’

When Adele released her hit “Skyfall,” there hadn’t been a good James Bond song in a long time. Adele proved to be the perfect singer for the film; like the movie Skyfall, Adele’s music adeptly blends the old and the new to cater to the tastes of multiple generations.

Adele | Mark Davis/CBS via Getty Images

After the song opens with a snippet of John Barry’s famous score, it evolves into a melodramatic power ballad that fuses some of Adele’s best lyrics with a committed vocal performance.

Nancy Sinatra – ‘You Only Live Twice’

Nancy Sinatra | Gilles Petard/Redferns

“You Only Live Twice” was not Nancy Sinatra’s biggest hit, but it was probably her best. In keeping with the film’s Japanese setting, the film features lush, orchestral strings reminiscent of East Asian music.

A number of James Bond songs have difficulty working the name of the film into their lyrics, but Sinatra and company were able to take the title of You Only Live Twice and work it into a poetic, quasi-psychedelic song. It’s no wonder that the song has been covered by everyone from Björk to Coldplay.

Shirley Bassey – ‘Goldfinger’

Shirley Bassey in black and white
Shirley Bassey | Mondadori via Getty Images

Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger” is not the best James Bond song, but it set the template for all subsequent themes. Numerous other songs from the series include melodic tips of the hat to “Goldfinger.” The song combines jazz, big band music, and pop into an ominous calling card for the film’s villain. The track does have some awkward lyrics (why did they rhyme “Goldfinger” with “cold finger?”), but Shirley Bassey’s beautiful voice completely makes up for them.

Her haunting vocal performance opened the door for her to sing the theme songs of two more James Bond films –  Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker. Since then, Bassey has embraced her place within the franchise’s history; she would later record an album of Bond themes entitled The Bond Collection as well as a cover of Pink’s “Get the Party Started” that was done in the style of Bond music.

Rita Coolidge – ‘All Time High’

Rita Coolidge | Peter Power/Toronto Star via Getty Images

“All Time High” is cheesy in all the right ways. The track was written by Tim Rice, the legendary lyricist who co-wrote the Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, as well as the music for the Disney classics Aladdin and The Lion King. “All Time High” opens with a memorable saxophone riff that sounds like it’s straight out of a so-bad-it’s-good Cinemax feature.

The beautiful strings from the song’s chorus are far too good for the film that it’s from, as Octopussy is usually remembered as one of 007’s more embarrassing outings. John Barry composed a delicate instrumental version of the track for the film’s score that stands as one of his best works; it sounds like Ludwig van Beethoven could have written it.