Julien Neaves – Editor
A few days ago BBC News reported that No Time To Die by Billie Eilish, the theme for the 25th James Bond film of the same name, has become only the second-ever 007 theme song to reach the top of the UK singles chart; previously Sam Smith’s Writing’s On The Wall from Spectre hit the top in 2015.
From the Facebook chatter (shout out to James Bond Enthusiasts and The Ultimate James Bond Experience) the song is pretty divisive among fans, so I decided to do an article about it and the other Daniel Craig-era themes. Now I am no music expert so if you want a deep musical analysis of these five tracks you are not going to find that here. So for my completely subjective ranking here are All Five Craig Bond Themes Ranked:
5. Another Way to Die by Jack White and Alicia Keys – Quantum of Solace
There is just something unmemorable about this song. It is so forgettable I can never remember its name or how it goes. And then when I go back and listen to it and I realise that is a blessing. Now I grew up listening to the melodic voice of Alicia Keyes though I was not familiar with Jack White. But whoever thought of putting the two of them together should be sentenced to five years of listening to this song on repeat.
The metal intro goes into somewhat decent verses but then descends into a discordant screaming match in the chorus in a misguided attempt to meld the two very disparate voice of Keys and White. My poor ears! I guess it is fitting that Craig’s worst film, the extremely underwhelming Quantum of Solace, should also have the worst theme of his tenure.
4. Writing’s on the Wall by Sam Smith – Spectre
Now Sam Smith has a fantastic, resonant voice and on paper he seems like a great fit for a Bond theme. But in this case the writing just wasn’t on the wall. Get it? You get it. There’s just something kind of off about the melancholy tune that doesn’t really fit with the franchise. Some sweet strings in the melody though.
In Trinidad and Tobago when someone is lovesick you call it “tabanca”. Well this song is a tabanca tune and James Bond is not about that tabanca life. So while a lovely song in its own right, a great Bond theme it is not.
3. No Time to Die by Billie Eilish – No Time to Die
Now there was a lot of apprehension when it was announced that 18-year-old American singer Billie Eilish would be singing the theme for No Time to Die. And a lot of that apprehension was from people who didn’t have a clue who she was. To be fair, she was coming after Adele, who everybody and their grandma knows. But the young singer has really blown up in recent years and with her rich, soulful voice she deserved her shot to add to the musical history of the franchise.
Now when I first listened to No Time to Die (the song) I found it started a tad slow and it never picked up the pace that much. But the more I listened to it the more it grew on me and the more I liked it. There is something classic and beautiful about this mournful tune that is both uniquely Bond and uniquely Billie. And you can’t not love that little classic nod at the end.
2. You Know My Name by Chris Cornell and David Arnold – Casino Royale
One of the highest compliments to a Bond theme would be that it makes you want to go and watch a Bond film. And as one of the Bondiest (yes, I made up that word, what about it?) of Bond tunes You Know My Name makes you want to pop in a DVD and enjoy a 007 thriller. Or stream it somewhere for you young uns who don’t know what a DVD is.
This engaging tune just conjures up images of spy shenanigans and is pure fire when combined with Cornell’s edgy vocals. This song sadly gets forgotten somewhat among Bond tunes, but fans definitely should know its name. Puns – I got em!
1. Skyfall by Adele – Skyfall
Yes, this number one is going to surprise no one. And did anyone think one of the best singers of all time wouldn’t deliver a banger of a Bond tune? Is that a hand up in the back? Oh, you were just stretching. Better be stretching.
The song is just masterful from the opening bars to Adele belting out the end. The lyrics touch on both the film Skyfall (“where we start”) and franchise lore (“you may know my number”) but the song is powerful enough that it can be appreciated not just by Bond fans but every breathing human being. Shirley Bassey is the undisputed queen of classic Bond themes but with Skyfall the torch was passed to a worthy successor. We can only hope, like Ms Bassey, Adele returns for a follow-up in the future. And in her immortal words: “This is the end.”
For the Top 10 Best and Worst Bond Films you can click here.
Julien Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel but dreams of being Batman. Also loves creating board games and is an aspiring Caribbean sci-fi author. Says things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”.