James Bond’s 25th instalment, No Time to Die has finally found its theme song, and it’s coming from pop sensation (and fashion icon) Billie Eilish. While we don’t know what to expect from Eilish’s breathy melodic style, we do know that James Bond’s past is filled with so many catchy hits and iconic tunes that she’ll contend with. These are Gizmodo’s favourite James Bond themes, and why we love them so much.
Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey
‘Goldfinger’ is a jazzy ditty, and a truly iconic one at that. Sung by Shirley Bassey in 1964, the song is sultry and sonorous, elevated by Bassey’s booming delivery and vibrato. Goldfinger is one of James Bond’s most famous movies, being the the franchise’s first major blockbuster, and followed the foiling of Auric Goldfinger’s gold-smuggling operation by Sean Connery’s Bond. It remains a powerful and brilliant theme.
Diamonds are Forever – Shirley Bassey
‘Diamonds are Forever’ written in 1971 is another enduring, vivacious hit from Shirley Bassey. Bassey’s voice was so impressive that she was actually asked to record three separate themes for the franchise, for Goldfinger, Diamonds are Forever and later, Moonraker. There’s some great harp work going on in ‘Diamonds are Forever’, and the subtle jazz/trombone combination is a real gem.
Live and Let Die – Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney had an impressive solo career post-Beatles fame, and went on to write ‘Live And Let Die’ for the 1973 film. Unlike many of the other James Bond themes, it’s a slow number, with accompanying visuals filled with slow motion flame, wide eyes and drama. ‘Live and Let Die’ is such a banger that it found its way to mainstream radio, and many people may not be aware it was originally a James Bond theme at all.
Die Another Day – Madonna
It’s not just classic bond films that have catchy themes, and Madonna stepped in for 2002’s Die Another Day to let the world know. Yes, the lyrics make very little sense and the opening is filled with naked flaming ladies, but it’s catchy and punchy as hell. It’s also got a rad combination of strings and synth. Put simply, Die Another Day slaps.
You Know My Name – Chris Cornell
The extremely talented, and now sadly departed, Chris Cornell, sung the first theme of the Daniel Craig Bond era, and ensured it arrived in style with this soulful pop-rock anthem. Cornell’s voice is gritty and orchestral, and he’s backed by a host of twangy guitar and boppy horns. Plus, the visuals of the theme are just plain cool, with a completely animated sequence themed around playing cards and murder. Good stuff.
The World is not Enough – Garbage
Pierce Brosnan’s run as Bond may have been wild, wacky and oh-so-very-90s, but nearly every theme from his films totally slaps. Garbage’s ‘The World is not Enough’ is another soulful dirge, and probably the theme that skews most closely to Billie Eilish’s musical style with vocalist Shirley Mason providing the breathy, subtle notes that give the song its Bond ‘sexiness’.
Skyfall – Adele
Adele might is one of the most talented singers of the modern era, and she lent her vocals well to the heightened drama of 2012’s Skyfall. The song is one of the longer Bond themes, but complimented by a variety of key changes and codas that aid the visual narrative. In terms of pure visuals, the Skyfall opening is one of the impressive, and it’s thanks, in no small part, to Adele’s brilliant theme.
Besides these tracks, an honourable mention should also go to Radiohead’s brilliant Spectre theme that ended up being cut and replaced by Sam Smith’s rendition. Oh, what could have been.
James Bond has a long history of iconic and enduring themes, and there’s no doubt that with a singer as talented as Billie Eilish at the helm, No Time to Die’s musical number will be no exception to the rule. Luckily, we don’t have long to wait – No Time to Die opens on April 8 in Australia.