Billie Eilish has become the latest in a long line of musicians tasked with writing and performing a James Bond theme song – making history in the process by becoming the youngest artist in history to do so.
Eilish adds her name to an elite club that already includes the likes of Shirley Bassey, Paul McCartney, Duran Duran, Madonna and Adele, with many of the theme songs remaining iconic years later.
We’ve compiled a list of all the theme songs to have accompanied a Bond release so far, starting with Eilish and stretching all the way back to Monty Norman’s iconic theme for Dr No in 1962.
Billie Eilish – No Time to Die (2020)
Written by Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell, the latest Bond theme song has not yet been release – nor has the name of the track been officially released. However, given that the news of Eilish’s involvement called it a ‘title song’ rather than a ‘theme song’, we’re willing to bet that, like the upcoming film, it will be titled No Time To Die.
Sam Smith – Writing’s on the Wall (2015)
Prior to the announcement that Smith would be performing the theme song for 2015’s Spectre, it had been heavily rumoured that Radiohead would be recording one – and indeed it later emerged that the band had had an effort turned down by the producers. Smith’s Writing on the Wall, written with Jimmy Napes went on to notch both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Song.
Adele – Skyfall (2012)
Probably the most well-known Bond theme song in recent years, Adele recorded Skyfall shortly after the massive success of her second album 21 – and the track became a huge hit, reaching number one in 11 different countries. It also has the honour of being the first Bond theme to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song, Brit Award for British Single of the Year, Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Song, Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, and the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media.
Jack White and Alicia Keys – Another Way To Die (2008)
White Stripes frontman Jack White wrote the song for Quantum of Solace, sharing vocals with R&B superstar Alicia Keys. Like the film it soundtracked, the song had something of a mixed reception – with many commenters saying it was a strange fit as a Bond theme song.
Chris Cornell – You Know My Name (2006)
The Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman’s Bond theme for Casino Royale became arguably his best known song, and was highly praised in the media – with one critic labelling it “the best Bond theme since ‘A View to a Kill.'” It was seen by many as the ideal track to introduce Daniel Craig – who was making his first appearance as 007.
Madonna – Die Another Day (2002)
Producers apparently wanted a high profile singer to perform the theme tune for Pierce Brosnan’s final turn as Bond – and it’s safe to say they delivered. Despite something of a mixed critical reception, the song performed well in the charts and marked a significant departure from the more traditional style of previous Bond themes.
Garbage – The World Is Not Enough (1999)
Scottish-American rock band Garbage were rather a big deal back in the late 1990s, and this only boosted their profile further. Relatively ‘classic Bond’ in style, the track was received warmly by most critics and reached number 11 in the UK charts.
Sheryl Crow – Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
This track was chosen by producers despite numerous other songs being solicited by producers, most notably by k.d lang, who’s similarly-titled song was instead used over the end credits. Crow’s song was one of the more poorly received in the franchise, but still managed to garner Golden Globe and Grammy nominations.
Tina Turner – GoldenEye (1995)
Written by U2 stars Bono and The Edge, GoldenEye was a huge hit for Tina Turner, particularly in Europe, later appearing on her album Wildest Dreams. The song was fairly conventional as Bond theme – unlike the film itself, which was the first not to be based on any of Ian Fleming’s works.
Gladys Knight – Licence To Kill (1989)
Knight was enlisted to perform the song for License To Kill after an earlier plan to have Eric Clapton and original Bond theme guitarist Vic Flick write a theme fell through. A big hit in Europe, it was based on the horn line from Goldfinger and is the longest James bond theme to date – at 5 minutes 43 seconds.
A-ha – The Living Daylights (1987)
Norwegian pop band A-ha were considered a rather unusual choice for a Bond theme, but this Europop number remains one of their more enduring hits. It was chosen for the theme after an earlier track by the Pet Shop Boys was rejected by the studio.
Duran Duran – A View To A Kill (1985)
One of many themes to be written with legendary Bond composer John Barry, A View To A Kill was an enormous hit for the new wave band, making it to number two on the UK singles charts for three weeks and being nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.
Rita Coolidge – All Time High (1983)
All Time High was the theme for 1983’s Octopussy and marked a return for John Barry after an absence from For Your Eyes Only. Apparently the song was not named after the film because it would have been too much of a challenge to write a song with the title Octopussy! It was the first Bond theme to have an accompanying music video.
Sheena Easton – For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Nominated for an Academy Award, this track written by Bill Conti was preferred to an alternative theme that had been recorded by Blondie. It was one of few Bond tracks at the time that John Barry had not been involved with and remains one of Easton’s most well-known songs.
Shirley Bassey – Moonraker (1979)
Bassey’s third Bond theme had previously been offered to numerous stars including Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis and Kate Bush. It was recorded at very short notice, and for that reason Bassey has never considered it to be her own song – performing it far less frequently than her other two Bond themes.
Carly Simon – Nobody Does It Better (1977)
This track from The Spy Who Loved Me was the first Bond theme not to be named after its corresponding film since Dr No. It was a major hit and was nominated for Golden Globe and Academy Awards, whilst in 2004 was listed as the 67th greatest film song ever by the American Film Institute.
Lulu – The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)
John Barry considers this track to be his weakest musical contribution to the franchise, and is the only Bond theme not to have charted in either the UK or America. It is also considered by some to be one of the more raunchy numbers to have graced the series, with Lula warbling about villain Scaramanga’s “powerful weapon”. A-hem.
Paul McCartney & The Wings – Live and Let Die (1973)
Still one of the most iconic Bond themes, this notable track reunited McCartney with George Martin – who had produced many of The Beatles biggest hits and most famous albums. At the time of its release it was the best performing Bond song ever – charting at number two in the US and nine in the UK, and being nominated for the Best Song Oscar.
Shirley Bassey – Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Another iconic title song (and Bassey’s second entry to the Bond theme canon) this track was nonetheless despised by producer Harry Saltzman, allegedly due to the innuendo in the lyrics.
Louis Armstrong – We Have All The Time in the World (1969)
This was actually the secondary theme to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – there was also a self-titled orchestral number. The title is taken from the final words George Lazenby’s Bond utters in the film.
Nancy Sinatra – You Only Live Twice (1967)
Considered by many to be one of the best Bond themes, this track has been widely re-recorded – and is especially known for its striking opening, which has been described as “perfection.”
Tom Jones – Thunderball (1965)
Jones allegedly fainted while singing the final high note of this song – which might not had been a Bond theme at all had the original track, titled Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (which had versions recorded by Dionne Warwick and Shirley Bassey) not fallen through.
Shirley Bassey – Goldfinger (1964)
The first of Bassey’s three Bond theme songs and arguably still the most iconic, this was Bassey’s only song to break the US top 40, and was named the 53rd best film song by the American Film Institute.
Matt Monro – From Russia with Love (1963)
This was the first Bond film for which Barry was the primary composer, with the title song sung by popular cabaret singer Matt Monro. An instrumental version plays over the opening credits – the full song is first heard in the film over a radio, before playing as the closing credits roll.
John Barry & Orchestra, Monty Norman – James Bond Theme (1962)
One of the most famous pieces of film music of all time, this has featured in every single Bond film in some form or another since it played over the opening credits of Dr No back in 1962. The definition of iconic!