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The 100 Best Songs of All Time

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Best Songs Of All Time

The best songs of all time are essential for any music lover’s playlist.

You’ll find every song you could ever want in this article, from dancing tunes and breakup anthems to rockin’ headbangers and nostalgic hits; we’ve included them all! 

Keep reading to discover the greatest songs ever produced by the world’s best musicians, bands, and artists. 

 

Table of Contents

The Best Songs of All Time

We’ve chosen what we think are the greatest songs known to man from the most talented artists on the planet and ranked them for your convenience. 

Here’s our playlist of the 100 best songs of all time:

 

100. Firestone – Kygo ft. Conrad Sewell

If you’re searching for the best deep house tracks, this one definitely makes the cut!

The song is quite romantic, talking about how a woman has changed a man’s life for the better.

It took the charts by storm, earning #1 in Norway and #8 on the U.S. Hot Dance/Electronic charts in 2014.

 

99. Last Nite – The Strokes

“Last Nite” is an excellent song for indie rock fans!

The lyrics talk about a guy who breaks up with his girlfriend after she says he doesn’t care about her.

In 2006, NME (New Musical Express) ranked the song #1 on their list of the 50 Greatest Tracks of the Decade.

 

98. Adagio For Strings – Tiësto

Great songs have a solid beat that makes you move. That’s exactly what you get with this uplifting dance hit!

This instrumental used the melody from an original composition by American composer Samuel Barber.

It charted at #1 in Hungary, #3 on the UK Dance Chart and #4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Singles chart in 2005.

 

97. Darude – Sandstorm

Chances are, you’ve probably heard this played in a dance club at least once.

Because it’s purely instrumental, it doesn’t necessarily have a meaning. However, it definitely evokes a feeling of intensity.

As of June 2000, “Darude” was the first song by a Finnish artist to hit the top 3 in the UK.

 

96. Levels – Avicii

If you like progressive house, you’ll certainly want to add this to your go-to playlist.

“Levels” features a vocal sample Avicii wanted to use from Etta James’s song, “Something’s Got a Hold on Me.”

It peaked at #1 on the Swedish charts and #66 on the U.S. Hot 100 in 2011.

 

95. Proud Mary – Creedence Water Revival

“Proud Mary” is still one of the best southern rock tunes today.

The song has nothing to do with a riverboat. In reality, it’s about a woman who is a maid for a wealthy family.

It hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969. And in 1971, Tina Turner’s version of the song won a Grammy Award.

 

94. House Of The Rising Sun – The Animals

Although The Animals isn’t the original band, this song is widely considered the first folk-rock hit.

The tune advises young male listeners not to fall into gambling and alcoholism.

“House of the Rising Sun” made #1 in the U.S., the UK, and Canada in 1964.

 

93. Everybody Wants To Rule The World – Tears For Fears

“Everybody Wants To Rule The World” is among one of the most iconic songs ever released.

The lyrics describe how humanity craves control and power, which often leads to corruption.

It became a huge hit, charting at #1 in Canada and earning a spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985.

 

92. Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division

This post-punk song has truly left a legacy. Its lyrics discuss the lead singer’s marital issues and struggle with epilepsy.

New Musical Express named it the greatest single of all time in 2002.

 

91. Heart Of Glass – Blondie

Listening to Blondie is sure to take the edge off a long day.

The disco song centers around a romantic relationship that just wasn’t meant to be.

“Heart of Glass” took 66th in the UK’s highest-selling singles of all time.

 

90. Song 2 – Blur

Jam out to “Song 2” when you’re on an alternative rock kick.

This song was actually written to make fun of the grunge music that was popular in 1997.

In 2011, New Musical Express ranked it #79 on their list of 150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years.

 

89. Halo – Beyoncé

You can’t have a playlist without some Beyoncé!

“Halo” is a love song that compares a love interest to an angel with a “halo.”

The pop/R&B hit from 2009 won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 2010 Grammy Awards.

 

88. Crazy – Gnarls Barkley

This psychedelic soul tune will be a funky fresh addition to your playlist.

The song’s theme is the process of losing your mind but actually not minding it.

“Crazy” went on to win an MTV Europe Music Award for Best Song in 2006.

 

87. No One Knows – Queens Of The Stone Age

Here’s another stellar alternative rock anthem for you to enjoy.

This one is a true mystery, so much so that even the band members don’t know the song’s meaning.

“No One Knows” topped the U.S. Alternative Charts in 2002 and made the Billboard Hot 100.

 

86. Common People – Pulp

“Common People” is a good song to listen to when you need a good laugh.

This is a satirical song about a wealthy girl who wants to do what the working class do.

It hit #2 on the UK Singles chart in 1995 and was voted the greatest Britpop song by Rolling Stone readers in 2015.

 

85. Blue Monday – New Order

Synth-pop meets alternative dance in this hit by English band, New Order.

In the song, the narrator thinks about how he’s constantly mistreated by a person he trusts.

“Blue Monday” entered the top 10 in multiple countries in 1983, from New Zealand to the UK.

 

84. Fools Gold – The Stone Roses

“Fools Gold” features an interesting mash-up of rock and funk that you’re sure to love.

The song mainly talks about the problems of greed and how it makes people turn on each other.

It peaked at #8 on the UK Singles Chart and remained in the Top 75 for 14 straight weeks.

 

83. Viva La Vida – Coldplay

“Viva La Vida,” otherwise known as “long live life,” is not only a great song, but it’s also one of the best songs to wake up to, in our opinion.

The lyrics are written from King Louis XVI’s point of view right before he was executed during the French Revolution.

In 2009, it won a Grammy for Song of the Year and sold more than 9.4 million copies worldwide.

 

82. Gangnam Style – PSY

This one’s probably the strangest on the list, but it’s a hit nonetheless!

“Gangnam Style” is a K-pop jam that makes fun of people who pretend to be wealthy when they aren’t.

As of 2012, the song was the most liked video on YouTube, according to Guinness World Records.

 

81. Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson

One of the most famous pop songs of the 2000s is “Since U Been Gone” by the legendary Kelly Clarkson.

This pop-rock anthem walks through a girl’s difficult breakup but focuses on how she is better off.

It took home a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 2004.

 

80. Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’Connor

Interestingly enough, this song was actually written by Prince.

The somber pop ballad focuses on how the narrator misses her loved ones, admitting that nothing compares to them.

In 1990, Billboard named the song the #1 World Single of the year.

 

79. Strobe – Deadmau5

If you’re into progressive house instrumentals, you’ve got to check this one out!

It features warm synth sounds and intriguing melodies that will get you on your feet.

The dance hit peaked at #13 on the UK Dance charts and #29 on the U.S. Dance/Electronic Digital Songs charts.

 

78. Umbrella – Rihanna ft. Jay-Z

You’ll also find “Umbrella” on our best karaoke songs playlist, as it’s just that good!

The hip hop/pop song’s lyrics focus on the fact that the female narrator will always be there for her man.

In 2008, Rihanna and Jay-Z took home a Grammy award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.

 

77. C.R.E.A.M. – Wu-Tang Clan

This Wu-Tang Clan hit is often described as one of the best hip hop songs in music history.

“C.R.E.A.M.” stands for “Cash Rules Everything Around Me” and shares the group’s stories of survival on the streets.

The East Coast hip hop tune went #60 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1994.

 

76. Paper Planes – M.I.A.

“Paper Planes” is an alternative hip hop song with an intriguing beat and catchy lyrics.

The lyrics have a deeper meaning, focusing on visas, immigration, and many people’s fears about foreigners.

The song peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2008 after its release.

 

75. Big Spender – Shirley Bassey

Jazz fans, we didn’t forget about you! This jazz hit will be a great addition to your playlist.

It’s basically a song about a girl trying to get a guy to give her a chance.

Bassey’s version hit #21 on the UK Singles chart in 1967.

 

74. Gold Digger – Kanye West ft. Jamie Foxx

“Gold Digger” is a must-have hip hop song for your playlist, and it’s also one of the best songs about money ever written!

It describes a female who is only interested in her man’s money, not his love.

This famous song from 2005 was a record-breaker, selling over 80,000 digital copies within a single week.

 

73. Killing In The Name – Rage Against The Machine

Out of all Rage Against The Machine songs, this one is a crowd favorite.

“Killing In The Name” is a protest song about police brutality and systematic racism.

Guitar World ranked the song at 89 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time in 2007.

 

72. Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin

If you’re looking for some hard rock to soothe your soul, this Led Zeppelin hit is for you.

The lyrics feature a man declaring his intense attraction to a woman of interest.

VH1 named it the 3rd greatest hard rock song of all time in 2009.

 

71. Strawberry Fields Forever – The Beatles

“Strawberry Fields Forever” came out in 1967, making significant waves in music.

The psychedelic rock song describes an actual place from John Lennon’s childhood.

It peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967 and earned the title of 23rd most celebrated song of all time by Acclaimed Music.

 

70. Dreams – Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac has released some of the best soft rock music to date.

This particular song is about a woman who dates a man who wants to be with other women.

“Dreams” took the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1977.

 

69. Get Ur Freak On – Missy Elliot

Missy Elliot makes the list as the only female rapper!

In an interview with Blender magazine, Elliot said the song could be about anything, from dancing to a sexual encounter.

In 2011, Rolling Stone ranked it #14 on their list of the Best Songs of the 2000s.

 

68. Nuthin’ But A G Thang – Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg

This song is one of West Coast hip hop’s finest. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog rap about the “gangsta” lifestyle, from getting all the ladies to being skilled in music.

It topped the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop Singles and Tracks chart at #1 in 1992.

 

67. How We Do – The Game

“How We Do” will make you roll your windows down and turn up the volume!

Basically, the song talks about the rapper’s crew and how they behave.

The single peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, where it stayed for 28 weeks in 2004.

 

66. Sweet Dreams – Eurythmics

“Sweet Dreams” is one of those new wave pop songs that get stuck in your head all day.

The lyrics encourage listeners to chase their dreams even if their current situation seems hopeless.

In 1983, it went #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 in the UK.

 

65. Save A Prayer – Duran Duran

“Save A Prayer” talks about a one-night stand where the people don’t care about their moral standing.

The music video also became popular on MTV, featuring the band in Sri Lanka.

The new wave/synthpop song took #2 on the UK Singles chart in 1982.

 

64. Straight Outta Compton – N.W.A

“Straight Outta Compton” is a song every rap fan should have on their playlist.

Its lyrics detail the highs and lows of living as a gangster in south-central L.A.

The gangsta rap song holds the #6 spot on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.

 

63. In Da Club – 50 Cent

Here’s one for all the rap enthusiasts out there.

“In Da Club” talks about being in a nightclub, partying, and celebrating life.

The music video won Best Rap Video at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards.

 

62. Paranoid – Black Sabbath

If you’re searching for some heavy metal from the 70s, this one’s perfect.

The lyrics explore a man’s struggle with finding happiness and satisfaction in life.

“Paranoid” took #4 in the UK and #61 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1970.

 

61. Back In Black – AC/DC

This hard rock song is bound to make you whip out your air guitar.

“Back In Black” is a tribute to Bon Scott after he passed away, stating that he’d live on through his music.

In 1981, the song hit #37 on the Billboard Hot 100.

 

60. One More Time – Daft Punk

Here’s one of the world’s greatest party songs, perfect for any celebration.

“One More Time” encourages listeners to have fun and keep on dancing.

The French house jam made #1 on the French Singles chart and #2 in the UK in 2000.

 

59. Insomnia – Faithless

Play this song if you’re finding it hard to get to sleep.

“Insomnia” explores an insomniac’s struggle to sleep and how difficult it is to live with such a condition.

In 2013, Mixmag ranked it as the 5th greatest dance song of all time.

 

58. Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi

“Livin’ On A Prayer” is another hit song that appears on our best party songs playlist.

Its lyrics describe different people’s struggles in life, from unexpected pregnancy to being forced to give up dreams.

The glam metal anthem went #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart in 1986.

 

57. Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd

Lose all sense of reality and jam out to this Pink Floyd smash hit.

The song is based on band member Roger Waters’ life experiences, including when he suffered from delirium.

“Comfortably Numb” made #314 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004.

 

56. Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple

English rock band Deep Purple released this hard rock song in 1973.

“Smoke On The Water” was inspired by a fire that started at a Frank Zappa concert.

Total Guitar magazine ranked it #4 on their list of Greatest Guitar Riffs Ever in 2004.

 

55. In The End – Linkin Park

You’ll immediately know this song by the famous piano riff in the beginning.

Many people believe the rock song talks about a doomed romantic relationship where the guy stops trying to get the girl.

“In The End” hit #1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart and the Pop Songs chart in 2002.

 

54. Enter Sandman – Metallica

“Enter Sandman” is a heavy metal song focusing on childhood nightmares.

The lyrics describe Mr. Sandman as a more sinister character that endangers children at night.

The legendary Metallica song took the #16 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991.

 

53. Back To Black – Amy Winehouse

This soulful song speaks of how we all go back to what makes us comfortable when a relationship ends.

“Back To Black” was written about Winehouse’s breakup with her boyfriend at the time.

The Amy Winehouse hit was the biggest-selling single of 2007 in the UK.

 

52. Dancing On My Own – Robyn

“Dancing On My Own” is one of those songs that will instantly put you in your feelings.

The song is essentially about dancing alone in a club while watching your ex dance with another person.

The sad pop anthem also hit #22 on the European Hot 100 Chart in 2010.

 

51. Hey Ya! – OutKast

If you want to get up and dance, this funky song is the one to play!

The songs seems to speak of dancing and having a good time. However, some believe there’s also a story of an unhappy relationship.

“Hey Ya!” earned a Grammy award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance in 2003.

 

50. Purple Rain – Prince

“Purple Rain” is a song that mixes rock, R&B, and gospel music.

It has an apocalyptic theme and talks about being with the love of your life at the end of the world.

The song hit #1 in the Netherlands, Belgium, Scotland, and the U.S. in 1984.

 

49. Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks

Psychadelic pop never sounded so good!

“Waterloo Sunset” features a narrator who is observing a couple walking over a bridge and imagining their love story.

The record hit #2 on the UK charts in 1967 and made the top 10 in most of Europe.

 

48. Creep – Radiohead

“Creep” is one of the most hauntingly beautiful alternative rock songs out there.

The song is sung from the perspective of an actual creep who is obsessed with a woman, but some have argued against it.

It peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Alternative Airplay chart, #3 in Norway, and #6 in Australia in 1992.

 

47. Jolene – Dolly Parton

This country song is one of Dolly Parton’s most famous songs, released in 1973.

“Jolene” is about a real person. It was written about a beautiful woman who was hitting on Dolly’s husband.

The song went #1 in Canada and on the U.S. Billboard Country Songs charts in 1974.

 

46. Gasolina – Daddy Yankee

Daddy Yankee is the go-to artist if you’re searching for some Latin music.

“Gasolina” is about a woman who enjoys going out to party, comparing her to “gasoline.”

In 2015, it made Billboard’s list of the 50 Greatest Latin Songs of All Time.

 

45. Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen

This one’s got a lot of meaning packed into a simple melody.

The lyrics focus on the many problems we face in life, but how we can still discover those “hallelujah” moments.

Bob Dylan, Bono, and others have done their own versions of this song. In 1984, it entered the Billboard Hot 100.

 

44. Rolling In The Deep – Adele

You can find another Adele hit on our best TikTok songs playlist too!

“Rolling In The Deep” serves as a warning to a female’s ex-lover.

The soulful pop song won Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Short Form Music Video in 2012.

 

43. Despacito – Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee

If you’re feeling spicy (or want to work on your Spanish), add this one to your playlist!

“Despacito” is a mixture of Latin pop and hip hop, describing a man’s urge to dance with an attractive woman.

It’s the longest-remaining Latin pop duet to stay at #1 on the Hot Latin Songs chart.

 

42. Like A Prayer – Madonna

If you’re searching for a pop-rock song, you’ll want to push play on this one from Madonna.

The lyrics share the story of a girl in love with God and that he is the only male figure she can look to in life.

“Like a Prayer” topped the charts in multiple countries, from Australia to Canada, in 1989.

 

41. Beat It – Michael Jackson

MJ returns once more to our list of the greatest songs ever! And rightfully so.

“Beat It” is mainly directed at men and talks about walking away from a fight when things get heated.

It is among the best-selling singles in music history, winning a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1984.

 

40. Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran

You’ll also see Ed Sheeran appear on our lists of best happy songs and best prom songs.

“Shape of You” begins with Sheeran hanging out at a bar and then admitting he’s looking for real love, not a hook-up.

The pop song was the UK’s top-selling song in 2017 and was the first song ever to hit two billion streams on Spotify.

 

39. You’re The One That I Want – John Travolta & Oliva Newton-John

This happy, timeless Grease duet also makes our best karaoke duets playlist!

“You’re The One That I Want” shares a conversation between Danny and Sandy as they admit their feelings about one another.

This pop hit became the biggest-selling single of all time after releasing in 1978.

 

38. (Everything I Do) I Do It For You – Bryan Adams

Looking for some easy listening that’s a little sappy? There’s no better song than this one.

“Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” is a love song about a man devoting his love to his woman, saying that he does everything for her.

In 1991, this Bryan Adams song hit #1 on the UK charts and stayed there for 16 consecutive weeks.

 

37. All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey

You can’t get into the Christmas spirit properly without this song!

“All I Want For Christmas Is You” talks about how the best gift a woman can get for Christmas is her man’s love.

Today, it’s the best-selling holiday song by a woman. After its release in 1994, it topped the charts in 26 countries.

 

36. Jonny B. Goode – Chuck Berry

“Jonny B. Goode” will have you up and dancing in no time!

This upbeat tune describes Berry’s life story, how he started with humble beginnings and then became a star.

It made the list of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004.

 

35. My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion

This one is every Titanic fan’s favorite, making the soundtrack in 1997.

The power ballad tells of a woman’s life-long commitment to her love interest.

“My Heart Will Go On” is the second highest-selling single of all time by a female artist.

 

34. No Woman, No Cry – Bob Marley

“No Woman No Cry” was Bob Marley’s first reggae hit, with the live recording becoming the best-known version.

The song is about a man who reassures his woman that even though he’s leaving, she’ll be alright.

It peaked at #8 on the UK Singles Chart in 1981 and #23 on the Dutch Top 40 in 1975.

 

33. A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke

This R&B song was inspired by a time when Cooke couldn’t get a room at a motel because he was black.

“A Change Is Gonna Come” speaks about the segregation of blacks and whites during the Civil Rights Movement.

In 2007, the tune was preserved in the Library of Congress due to its cultural and historical significance.

 

32. Money For Nothing – Dire Straits

Here’s a fun tune for all the pop-rock fans out there!

“Money For Nothing” is based on the common view that people who work in music have an easy job.

Dire Straits won a Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1986.

 

31. Purple Haze – Jimi Hendrix

If you’re looking for an incredible guitar solo, look no farther than “Purple Haze” by the one and only Jimi Hendrix.

Many interpret the song as a psychedelic experience, but Hendrix says it’s actually a love song.

It was ranked #2 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time in 2003.

 

30. Dancing Queen – ABBA

“Dancing Queen” is also on our list of best sweet 16 songs, and rightly so, as it’s a total smash!

This pop song focuses on a teenage girl who loves to dance, even choosing it above finding a mate.

The popular tune earned ABBA a spot in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2015.

 

29. Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen

Are you really a pop-rock fan if you don’t love Bruce Springsteen? Especially this mainstream hit.

“Born To Run” is all about the restlessness of being young and wanting to explore the world and live life to the fullest.

In 1975, the single hit #23 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also appears in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll list.

 

28. Life On Mars? – David Bowie

If you’re into glam rock, you’ll love this song by David Bowie.

Interestingly enough, Bowie wrote “Life On Mars” as a surreal parody of Frank Sinatra’s song, “My Way.”

As of 2021, the song ranked #105 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

 

27. My Way – Frank Sinatra

With a voice like Frank Sinatra’s, you won’t want to stop listening to this song!

Paul Anka actually wrote the lyrics, which express a person’s satisfaction about how they’ve lived their life.

“My Way” spent 75 weeks in the UK Top 40 in 1969.

 

26. I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston

One of the most legendary songs in pop music history is “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston.

The song was originally written by country music star, Dolly Parton, to show her appreciation and love for her business partner.

To date, it is the best-selling single by a female artist. It’s also one of the highest-selling singles of all time.

 

25. Be My Baby – The Ronettes

“Be My Baby” is a pop track you’ll be humming to all day!

The tune is about a girl who tries to persuade a guy to go out with her, explaining that she’s been into him since they met.

Billboard named it #1 on their list of 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time.

 

24. Your Song – Elton John

This is one of Elton John’s sweetest love songs, which became a breakthrough hit.

“Your Song” is a declaration of the narrator’s love for his significant other, done in a beautiful and childlike way.

It hit #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #7 in the UK in 1971.

 

23. Lose Yourself – Eminem

Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” was released in 2002 as the lead single from the soundtrack of 8 Mile.

The motivational lyrics are based on the film’s main character, an aspiring rapper, B-Rabbit, who faces countless obstacles in his life.

It was the first-ever hip hop song to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2003.

 

22. Hound Dog – Elvis Presley

“Hound Dog” is a perfect song for beginner singers, making it onto our list of easy songs to sing.

The blues tune features a man disappointed in his love interest’s lack of class.

The song went #1 on the U.S. pop, country, and R&B charts all at once in 1956.

 

21. I Can’t Get No Satisfaction – Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones released this rock hit in 1965, resulting in major success.

Its lyrics talk mainly discuss sexual frustration while also taking shots at commercialism.

“I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” took a spot in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.

 

20. One – U2

Interestingly enough, “One” was actually a benefit single that sent proceeds to AIDS research.

Many fans and critics think the song is about the band putting aside their differences to create an album.

The rock hit claimed #10 on the Billboard Hot 100, #7 on the UK charts, and #3 in New Zealand.

 

19. Juicy – The Notorious B.I.G.

“Juicy” is the first-ever single from the American hip hop artist, The Notorious B.I.G.

Basically, the song walks through the rapper’s rags-to-riches story, where he went from poverty and dealing drugs to becoming a superstar.

BBC gave it the #1 spot on their list of the Greatest Hip Hop Songs of All Time in 2019.

 

18. Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys

This feel-good jam by the Beach Boys also appears on our best summer songs playlist.

The lyrical meaning is simple. A guy is picking up good vibes from a certain female, showing that she’s interested in him romantically.

In 1994, “Good Vibrations” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

 

17. London Calling – The Clash

Here’s another politically-charged jam, this time from the punk-rock genre.

“London Calling” features apocalyptic lyrics that describe different ways that the world could end.

It earned the highest spot of any punk-rock song on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004.

 

16. All Along The Watchtower – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

If you’re looking for a song with substance and symbolism, you’ve come to the right hard rock cover.

Bob Dylan originally wrote the song, which many believe criticizes American society and foretold its potential downfall.

In 1968, the song became a Top 20 single on the Billboard Hot 100, and it was also the first UK stereo-only single to chart in the UK.

 

15. Hey Jude – The Beatles

The Beatles are back again with yet another good song.

“Hey Jude” is a laidback rock-pop tune that describes a little boy’s experience as he lives through his parents’ heartbreaking divorce.

The song earned the title of #1 song in 1968, according to Billboard.

 

14. Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees

This is the best song to groove to, whether you’re in the car or chilling in your room.

Although the song appears happy on the surface, the lyrics are actually about surviving or “making it” in New York City.

“Stayin’ Alive” made it onto the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Songs list at #9 in 2004.

 

13. What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye

“What’s Going On” is a powerful political song meant to highlight the evils of society.

The song was inspired by violence, and police brutality witnessed at a protest.

The smooth soul/R&B tune topped the Hot Soul Singles chart and hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971.

 

12. Still D.R.E. – Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg

Here’s one that’ll make you crank the volume up!

“Still D.R.E.” is Dr. Dre’s statement song, declaring that even though he’s been M.I.A., he’s still the rapper his fans know and love.

After a Super Bowl halftime performance, the gangsta rap song soared to #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2022.

 

11. Yesterday – The Beatles

This is the best song to sing or listen to when you’re sad about the past.

Throughout the song, Paul McArtney discusses a breakup and is grieving about yesterday when she left him.

It was voted the #1 pop song of all time by MTV and Rolling Stone magazine in 1998.

 

10. Respect – Aretha Franklin

“Respect” was originally written by Otis Redding, but Aretha Franklin’s recording became the most popular.

The lyrical meaning is quite simple: everyone wants to be respected by the one they love.

It won 2 Grammy Awards in 1968, one for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording and one for Best Rhythm & Blues Solo Female Vocal Performance.

 

9. Hotel California – The Eagles

Of all the songs on this list, few are as eerily awesome as “Hotel California” by The Eagles.

This 1977 classic rock song uses metaphors and symbolism to show that the industry is much more sinister than it appears.

It earned The Eagles a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1978.

 

8. Like A Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan

“Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan is a confrontational folk-rock song worth listening to.

The lyrics talk about a person who went from having a wealthy, prosperous life to living on the street in poverty.

Rolling Stone ranked it #1 on their list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004 and 2010.

 

7. Sweet Child O’Mine – Guns N’ Roses

 You’ll instantly know this song by the popular guitar solo in the beginning!

“Sweet Child O’Mine” describes the lead singer’s love and admiration for his girlfriend at the time, which makes it a great rock love song.

The hard rock jam was Guns N’ Roses’ only song to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1988.

 

6. Stairway To Heaven – Led Zeppelin

 This Led Zeppelin song is widely considered one of the best rock songs ever recorded.

“Stairway To Heaven,” tells the story of a wealthy woman who gets to the end of her life and realizes she can’t buy her way into heaven.

The tune took the #3 spot on VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Rock Songs in 2003.

 

5. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” is Nirvana’s signature song, released in 1992 from their second album Nevermind.

This grunge/alt-rock hit calls on the youth population to wake up from their “teen spirit” of indifference.

Nirvana earned the fifth spot on The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone in 2021.

 

4. Wonderwall – Oasis

Whether you’re singing karaoke or just love Britpop, “Wonderwall” is the perfect song.

The lead singer states that it’s a song about an imaginary friend who saves the narrator.

The song went on to top charts in multiple countries in 1995, from Canada and the U.S. to the UK and Ireland.

 

3. Changes – 2Pac

 If you’re into political hip hop, then this might be a good song to put on your playlist.

“Changes” talks about racial issues, violence, homelessness, and poverty.

The rap song went #1 on the UK R&B charts in Norway and the Netherlands in 1998.

 

2. Billie Jean – Michael Jackson

The king of pop has many popular songs, but one of the best is “Billie Jean.”

This classic song tells the story of how an insane woman claimed that Michael Jackson was the father of her baby.

In 1984, Jackson took home a Grammy award for Best Male Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song.

 

1. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is one of the world’s greatest rock songs to date.

Many fans and critics interpret the song as Freddie Mercury’s way of coming out.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004. It’s also #17 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

 

Summary

Voila! Now you have a go-to playlist of the greatest songs of all time. 

No matter what genre or artist you love most, we hope at least one of your favorites made it into the mix.

What’s the best song of all time, in your opinion? Leave a comment below. 

Emily is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and ukulelist who has graced the stage at countless venues across the Midwest and Southern U.S. Throughout her career, she’s opened for artists including Eric Paslay, Stars Go Dim, Love & The Outcome, and Sierra Hull. She writes relatable, original music in various genres, from country and folk to cinematic pop, hoping to inspire and uplift her listeners. Outside of music, Emily enjoys hiking with her husband and playing with her comical cat, Olive.

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