How does Billie Eilish's 'No Time to Die' stack up?
There are few honors more coveted in popular music today than being asked to perform the James Bond theme song. Those artists who have recorded a Bond theme make up an exclusive club, stretching back to the '60s and spanning genres, but all sharing one thing in common: they're cool (or at least they were cool at the time). Some of these Bond theme songs have made their mark on film history, while others have faded into obscurity. There are Oscar-winning tunes among this batch, as well as chart-topping radio hits. There is also a song by A-ha.
What makes a Bond theme great? Moodiness helps. Sometimes strings, sometimes horns. Almost always a bravura vocal performance. But what distinguishes the wheat from the chaff is a Bond theme song's ability to transcend its limited role as the accompaniment during the title sequence. Great Bond theme songs can overshadow mediocre Bond movies, while mediocre Bond theme songs can start great Bond movies on the wrong foot. They don't merely emulate John Barry's iconic instrumental theme, but they build off of it in dynamic, unexpected ways to create something both wholly original and complementary to the narrative of the debonair 007.
Billie Eilish is the latest star to join the Bond theme song club, fresh off being this year's Grammy darling due to the success of her debut LP, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Her ballad, "No Time to Die," will accompany a film by the same name. Given that this movie will close out the Daniel Craig era of Bond, the 18-year-old Eilish—who has so far been near-universally beloved by both taste-making critics and a growing legion of hardcore fans—has either been presented with her first real opportunity to swing and miss, or a chance to advance her music career to even loftier heights.
How does Eilish stack up against other themes from over nearly 60 years of movie history? Here's our ranking, from worst to best, of all the James Bond theme songs.
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