More than any other film franchise, the long-running James Bond series has a rich musical history. Sure, the Star Wars score is peerless, but each Bond film brings with it the excitement of a major pop star recording a new song suited for the 007 series.
It wasn’t always that way, of course. Bond’s first big-screen foray, Dr. No, boasted the first appearance of the iconic, oft-imitated surf guitar Bond theme music — but no major pop hit. The next one, From Russia With Love, found English pop singer Matt Monro crooning the title track, but again, it wasn’t all that memorable.
It wasn’t until the third Bond film that the gauntlet was truly thrown. Oozing drama, danger and kitschy sensuality, Welsh singer Shirley Bassey sang the Goldfinger title track and set the tone for the next 50-plus years of Bond themes.
While plenty of lists have been devoted to the best Bond theme songs, we’re taking a more historical perspective and looking at which Bond themes actually made a mark on the charts.
From the lowest to the highest charting Bond themes in America, here’s the history of 007 on the Hot 100.
Honorable mentions: Tina Turner‘s wonderful “GoldenEye” (written by Bono and the Edge) just nearly missed the Hot 100. The 1967 film Casino Royale — a Bond spoof featuring Peter Sellers and Woody Allen — boasted a Burt Bacharach song called “Casino Royale” that peaked at No. 27 on the Hot 100, as recorded by easy-listening legends Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.
Jack White & Alicia Keys, “Another Way to Die” from Quantum of Solace (2008) – No. 81
The only James Bond song performed by two separately credited artists, “Another Way to Die” found the blues-leaning garage rocker and the Grammy-winning soulstress combining forces for Daniel Craig’s worst-reviewed Bond film.
Chris Cornell, “You Know My Name” from Casino Royale (2006) – No. 79
The Soundgarden frontman gave the Bond franchise one of its hardest-rocking songs, and the result earned him a Grammy nomination.
Sam Smith, “Writing’s On The Wall” from Spectre (2015) – No. 71
Sam Smith’s dramatic, falsetto-filled Bond song has strong ’60s shades, and peaked at No. 71 on the Hot 100. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2016.
Shirley Bassey, “Diamonds Are Forever” from Diamonds Are Forever (1971) – No. 57
Bond’s most prolific vocalist, Shirley Bassey’s memorable, menacing “Diamonds Are Forever” hit No. 57 but returned to the Hot 100 nearly 40 years later when Kanye West sampled it for “Diamonds of Sierra Leone,” which peaked at No. 43.
Nancy Sinatra, “You Only Live Twice” from You Only Live Twice (1967) – No. 44
One of the best Bond songs, Nancy Sinatra’s entry hit No. 44 on the Hot 100, but in a markedly different version than the one in the film. The charting single version, produced by Lee Hazelwood, emphasized guitars over orchestral production.
Rita Coolidge, “All Time High” from Octopussy (1983) – No. 36
Soft rock singer Rita Coolidge earned her last Hot 100 hit with “All Time High,” the main song for Octopussy. It’s safe to say had she sang a titular track for the film, it would not have been a top 40 hit.
Tom Jones, “Thunderball” from Thunderball (1965) – No. 25
British belter Tom Jones gave the fourth Bond film the dramatic “Thunderball,” which peaked at No. 25.
Shirley Bassey, “Goldfinger” from Goldfinger (1964) – No. 8
The song that set the tone for every Bond song to follow, Bassey’s big voice (backed by vamping horns) demanded attention. The lyrics are ridiculous, but she delivers them with such conviction you barely notice.
Madonna, “Die Another Day” from Die Another Day (2002) – No. 8
In addition to producing one of Bond’s biggest hits, Madonna also appeared in the film as a fencing master who crossed blades with Bond.
Adele, “Skyfall” from Skyfall (2012) – No. 8
The first James Bond song to win an Oscar, “Skyfall” was Adele’s stop-gap between her 21 and 25 albums.
Sheena Easton, “For Your Eyes Only” from For Your Eyes Only (1981) – No. 4
Best remembered for “9 to 5” (aka “Morning Train), Sheena Easton scored another big hit with the title track to James Bond’s first ’80s film. The song was nominated for an Oscar.
Paul McCartney & Wings, “Live and Let Die” from Live and Let Die (1973) – No. 2
Produced by longtime collaborator George Martin, Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles band scored a massive, enduring hit with this fiery rocker. It’s also the first Bond song to be performed by the person who wrote it.
Carly Simon, “Nobody Does It Better” from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) – No. 2
Like McCartney, Simon was one of the ’70s biggest hitmakers, and her bedroom Bond ballad gave the series one of its biggest hits and its second Best Original Song Oscar nomination.
Duran Duran, “A View to a Kill” from A View to a Kill (1985) – No. 1
The only James Bond song to top the Hot 100, “A View to a Kill” is a memorable song from one of the series’ least memorable films. It’s also one of two Duran Duran No. 1s (“The Reflex” was their first chart topper).