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53 Songs Everyone Knows

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Best Songs Everyone Knows

Whether you want people to sing along at karaoke night or you’re tasked with being the party DJ, you need a playlist of songs everyone knows.

Every so often, an artist releases a timeless hit that gets stuck in everyone’s heads. It may feature a catchy chorus or easily singable lyrics (or both). Either way, you can’t stop singing it!

Keep reading to find out what we think are the music industry’s most memorable tracks.

Table of Contents

 

53 Best Songs Everyone Knows

After listening and jamming out to tons of mainstream anthems, we’ve handpicked the songs that top them all.

So without further ado, here’s our playlist of the 53 best songs everyone knows:

 

53. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers

“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” is an alternative rock song from 1988 that features a male narrator who sings about committing to the love of his life. Our best karaoke songs playlist also features this track.

The tune was a #1 hit in Australia and charted #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1993.

 

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

This sappy love ballad by Canadian singer-songwriter, Bryan Adams, was featured in the soundtrack for the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and is about a man devoting himself to his lover.

“(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” hit #1 on the UK Singles Chart and the Billboard Hot 100 between 1991 and 1993.

 

51. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” is a grunge anthem encouraging the youth to wake up and start caring about their lives and the world around them.

The tune topped charts in France, Spain, the U.S., and Australia between 1991 and 1992 and was (and still is) so popular that it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2017.

 

50. I’ll Make Love To You – Boyz II Men

This is a #1 hit single by beloved R&B group Boyz II Men, which features a male narrator who is romancing his lady and professing his readiness to please her sexually.

If you love Boys II Men, you should check out their song, “End Of The Road,” on our best 90s songs playlist; it’s a great track. 

“I’ll Make Love To You” won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 1995.

 

49. Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen

“Hallelujah” has a simple melody yet incredibly profound lyrics, which discuss how we can still enjoy the good times despite the obstacles we face in life.

The folk-rock tune charted #59 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2016 and has been covered by many artists, including Bono and Bob Dylan.

 

48. Lean On – Major Lazor And DJ Snake ft.

Electronic dance music group Major Lazer teamed up with DJ Snake and MØ to release this hit about having someone in life that you can count on no matter what.

The catchy tune peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, #2 on the UK Singles Chart, and in several other countries, including New Zealand, Mexico, and Switzerland, in 2015.

 

47. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond

Chances are, you’ve heard this song at a baseball game or two. Neil Diamond released this soft rock hit in 1969, inspired by John F. Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline.

“Sweet Caroline” peaked at #3 on the U.S. Easy Listening chart and #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969.

 

46. Hollaback Girl – Gwen Stefani

“Hollaback Girl” was inspired by criticism Stefani received from Courtney Love, who called her a “cheerleader.” She snapped back with this song about rising above her haters and the gossip they spread.

The tune topped the Billboard Mainstream Top 40, Pop 100, and Rhythmic charts between 2005 and 2006.

 

45. Stacy’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne

This power pop song is from the band’s third studio album and tells the story of a young boy who has a massive crush on his friend’s mother.

“Stacy’s Mom” peaked at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100, #3 on the Mainstream Top 40, and #6 in Scotland between 2003 and 2004.

 

44. Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus

“Wrecking Ball” is a pop ballad from Miley Cyrus’s fourth studio album, Bangerz, and is all about the heartbreak from a lost romantic relationship.

The music video earned the World’s Best Video at the 2014 World Music Awards, and the song topped charts in Canada, Hungary, Israel, Spain, and the UK throughout 2013.

 

43. Jump – Van Halen

American rock band, Van Halen, released this hit song on their album 1984, inspired by a time when David Lee Roth witnessed a man threatening to kill himself by jumping off of a tall building.

“Jump” made it to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, the Mainstream Rock chart, and the Canadian Top Singles chart in 1984.

 

42. Hotline Bling – Drake

“Hotline Bling” is a famous song from 2015 that features a male character who is reminiscing on good times spent with his former lover.

The track won Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Song at the 2016 American Music Awards as well as Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards.

 

41. Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses

Here’s an iconic song you’ll recognize simply by hearing the opening riff! “Sweet Child O’ Mine” shares the lead singer, Axl Rose, ‘s feelings toward his then-girlfriend.

The song’s catchiness earned it the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and #7 on the Mainstream Rock chart between 1988 and 1989.

 

40. Low – Flo Rida ft. T-Pain

“Low” is the debut single by Flo Rida, which describes an attractive woman dancing in a club and his sexual interest in her.

The song spent ten consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2008 and was one of the most downloaded singles of the 2000s.

 

39. Sorry – Justin Bieber

“Sorry” is one of the most well-known songs by pop singer Justin Bieber and is a plea for forgiveness from an ex-girlfriend.

If you’re a JB fan, you should definitely check out our best summer songs playlist, featuring one of his smash hits, “Peaches.”

The tune topped charts worldwide, from the Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles chart to Canada and Ireland.

 

38. Drop It Like It’s Hot – Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell Williams

Push play on this one at a party, and you’ll have proof that this is one of the songs that everyone knows! The lyrics encourage females to dance sensually and brag about the artists’ wealth and social status.

“Drop It Like It’s Hot” made it to #1 on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs, Rhythmic, Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs, and Hot 100 charts in 2004 and 2005.

 

37. Wannabe – Spice Girls

“Wannabe” was released as the Spice Girls’ debut single and became an instant hit in the 90s. Its lyrics focus on females prioritizing their friendships over relationships with significant others.

The song won Best British-Written Single at the 1997 Ivor Novello Awards and British Single of the Year at the Brit Awards in the same year.

 

36. Survivor – Destiny’s Child

Destiny’s Child released one of their most famous songs, “Survivor,” from their third studio album after hearing negative comments that the group couldn’t survive without its original members.

The track charted in the top ten in more than twenty countries and won Best R&B Performance by A Duo or Group with Vocals at the 2002 Grammy Awards.

 

35. Zombie – The Cranberries

“Zombie” by the Irish rock band, The Cranberries is widely known as one of the greatest songs revolving around protests. Its lyrics describe the devastation of the Warrington, England bombings in 1993.

The tune won the Best Song Award at the 1995 MTV Europe Music Awards and topped charts worldwide in 1994.

 

34. Old Town Road – Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus

This popular country rap song focuses on the typical cowboy lifestyle of drinking and womanizing and how the narrator doesn’t want to live that way.

“Old Town Road” won Best Pop/Duo/Group Performance and Best Music Video at the 2020 Grammy Awards and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 that same year.

 

33. Cry Me A River – Justin Timberlake

“Cry Me A River” was released on Justin Timberlake’s debut solo album in 2002 and tells the story of a man who finds out his girlfriend has been cheating on him.

In 2004, it won a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Pop Songs charts in 2003.

 

32. I Want It That Way – Backstreet Boys

You’d have to live under a rock if you’ve never heard this hit from this beloved boy band, which features a man begging his girlfriend not to break up with him.

“I Want It That Way” peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1999 and won the Viewer’s Choice Award at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.

 

31. Bad Romance – Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” is a dance-pop hit about an obsessive infatuation with a man the female narrator knows is not suitable for her.

The tune won a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Music Video in 2011 and peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2009.

 

30. Hot In Herre – Nelly

“Hot In Herre” is a classic party song about being in a hot, crowded club where the singer wants to be intimate with women.

This anthem topped the Billboard Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs, Hot Rap Songs, Mainstream Top 40, and Rhythmic charts in 2002 and 2003.

 

29. Despacito – Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee

You’re missing out if you haven’t heard this spicy Spanish duet! The lyrics describe a man’s longing to dance with his love interest and please her in the bedroom.

“Despacito” was the first Latin song to enter the Billboard Hot 100 since 1996 and was the longest-running #1 hit on the Hot Latin Songs chart in 2017.

 

28. I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston is one of the best black female singers of all time, and her hit, “I Will Always Love You,” is one of the greatest songs ever written.

The popular song was written by Dolly Parton as a goodbye to her business partner and won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1994.

 

27. Hotel California – The Eagles

“Hotel California” is a classic rock song about how fame and fortune may appear good, but they are evil under the surface.

In 1977, this hit earned The Eagles a Grammy for Record of the Year and the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 while also charting within the top ten in multiple countries.

 

26. Sugar – Maroon 5

This disco pop anthem is from Maroon 5’s fifth studio album, V, and is a total sexual innuendo, comparing sugar to sexual activity.

“Sugar” spent over 20 weeks in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 in 2015 and won the Award Winning Song Award at the BMI Pop Awards in 2016.

 

25. I Gotta Feeling – The Black Eyed Peas

“I Gotta Feeling” was released from the group’s fifth album, The E.N.D., and focuses on the joy and fun of partying and simply having a good time.

The tune debuted at #2 on the Canadian and Billboard Hot 100 and topped charts on over twenty charts around the world in 2009.

 

24. Gangnam Style – PSY

“Gangnam Style” is a K-pop song by South Korean rapper PSY, which makes fun of people who act like they’re rich but aren’t in reality.

The catchy track debuted at #1 on the Gaon Chart, won Best Video at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2012 and earned the Top Streaming Song (Video) Award at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards.

 

23. My Heart Will Go On – Céline Dion

Among the world’s most classic songs is this powerful love song from Celine Dion, which describes the female narrator’s undying love for her lover.

“My Heart Will Go On” became a massive hit after appearing on Titanic, earning several Grammies in 1999, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

 

22. Umbrella – Rihanna

“Umbrella” is a pop party anthem in which Rihanna assures her lover that he’ll always have her support, no matter what they may face.

In 2008, the song won a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Video of the Year at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards.

 

21. Jolene – Dolly Parton

This is one of country music’s greatest songs, written about an attractive woman who had been making moves on Dolly Parton’s husband.

In 1974, “Jolene” made it to #1 on the Billboard Country Songs and Canadian Country Singles chart in 1973 and 1974.

 

20. Shake It Off – Taylor Swift

“Shake It Off” is a catchy pop tune directed at all Taylor Swift’s haters and focuses on the fact that no matter what you do, somebody out there will have something negative to say.

This jam spent four weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won Favorite Song at the 2015 People’s Choice Awards.

 

19. Yeah! – Usher ft. Lil Jon & Ludacris

This R&B/hip-hop hit was the lead single from Usher’s fourth studio album, Confessions, and features a guy at a club who’s taken but gets seduced by another woman.

“Yeah!” won Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 2005 Grammy Awards and topped twelve charts worldwide throughout 2004.

 

18. Lose Yourself – Eminem

“Lose Yourself” is a rap hit that tells the story of the main character, Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith Jr., in the movie 8 Mile, and how he overcomes many obstacles to becoming a professional rapper.

The track won Best Original Song at the Academy Awards in 2003 and Best Male Rap Solo Performance at the 2004 Grammy Awards.

 

17. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

American southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd released this classic song in 1974 in response to Neil Young’s song, “Southern Man,” which they thought was blaming the South for the issue of slavery.

“Sweet Home Alabama” peaked at #6 on the Canadian Top Singles chart, #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #7 on the Cash Box Top 100 in 1974.

 

16. I Wanna Dance With Somebody – Whitney Houston

“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is by far one of the best dance songs that everyone knows, and it talks about a woman’s desire to find true love.

The mega-hit won a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1988 and topped charts in over eighteen countries in 1987.

 

15. Hey Ya – Outkast

Here’s a funky tune that’ll have you up and dancing! And that’s what it’s all about: dancing and having a blast.

“Hey Ya” won Best Urban/Alternative Performance at the 2003 Grammy Awards and made it to #1 on charts worldwide within the same year.

 

14. Every Breath You Take – The Police

“Every Breath You Take” is often referred to as a love song, but it’s actually about an obsessive stalker. It’s often considered to be one of the best 80s songs and is adored by fans worldwide.

The song earned a Grammy Award for Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by Duo or Group with Vocal in 1984.

 

13. Dancing Queen – ABBA

This smash hit is all about a teenage girl who falls in love with dancing and even goes as far as to choose it over finding a lover.

“Dancing Queen” topped charts in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Denmark, the UK, and multiple charts within the U.S. between 1976 and 1977.

 

12. Hello – Adele

“Hello” is a pop-soul song from English singer-songwriter Adele that talks about surviving all the confusion and heartache of your teenage years and becoming an adult.

This chart-topping hit is one of the best-selling digital singles of all time and won Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards.

 

11. Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran

Another popular tune is this one from Ed Sheeran, which shares the story of a guy searching for love at a club and finding a woman with whom he develops a lasting relationship.

“Shape Of You” hit #1 on charts in 34 countries, was the best-performing song of 2017 and won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance in 2021.

 

10. All Star – Smash Mouth

It doesn’t get any more classic than “All Star” by Smash Mouth, especially for 90s kids. The song motivates listeners to pursue their dreams in life no matter what stands in their way.

“All Star” made it to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and appeared in the popular kid’s movie Shrek.

 

9. …Baby One More Time – Britney Spears

You can’t help but sing, “ooh baby, baby,” when this pop hit starts playing! “…Baby One More Time” describes a young girl’s loneliness and how she wants to reconnect with her ex.

The debut single of pop star Britney Spears won Best Song at the 1999 MTV Europe Music Awards and topped charts in multiple countries between 1998 and 1999.

 

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

“All I Want For Christmas Is You” is about a woman who wants her man’s affection as her holiday gift. If you check out our best songs of all time playlist, you’ll also find this featured track.

The tune is the best-selling holiday song by a female artist to date and one of the most popular physical singles in the music industry’s history.

 

7. Girls Just Want To Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper

“Girls Just Want To Have Fun” is the perfect song for a girls’ night out and is all about a girl who is tired of obeying the rules and wants to relax and have a good time.

In 1983, the feminist anthem earned an American Video Award for Best Female Performance and, in 1984, won Best Female Video at the MTV Video Music Awards.

 

6. Mr. Brightside – The Killers

This hit was The Killers’ debut single about a guy who knows his girlfriend is cheating on him but chooses to ignore it and remain optimistic about their relationship.

“Mr. Brightside” is the longest-charting single in the UK, spending five years and ten months on the chart.

 

5. Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi

“Livin’ On A Prayer” is a glam metal track that shares different stories of struggling people but also motivates them to keep their heads up.

Want more from Bon Jovi? Check out his song, “(You Want To) Make A Memory,” on our best songs about memories playlist. You won’t be disappointed!

This hit took the #1 spot on charts in Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Norway, and the U.S. between 1986 and 1987.

 

4. Wonderwall – Oasis

This nostalgic song is about an imaginary friend who comes to the male narrator’s rescue when he’s at his wit’s end.

“Wonderwall” reached the top ten in over twelve countries in 1995 and, as of October 2020, became the first song from the 90s to hit one billion Spotify streams.

 

3. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey

“Don’t Stop Believin'” is one of the most iconic songs of the 80s and tells the stories of individuals who encounter obstacles in life but keep the faith to make it through.

Journey’s signature song made it to #1 on the Australian Hitseekers chart and #2 on the Japan Adult Contemporary Airplay and UK Singles chart in 2009 and 2011.

 

2. Billie Jean – Michael Jackson

Of all MJ’s famous hits, “Billie Jean” is the one most people know. The pop track was inspired by a real-life event where a woman accused Jackson of being the father of her baby.

In 1984, the song won a Grammy Award for Best Male Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song and topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983.

 

1. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

We’ve finally made it to the #1 song that everyone knows (in our opinion): “Bohemian Rhapsody” by the English rock band Queen.

The general consensus is that this anthem was written as a way for Freddie Mercury to come out of the closet.

The anthem is the UK’s third best-selling single of all time, and in 2004, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

 

Summary

Now you have a go-to playlist filled with the best songs everyone knows for your next party, karaoke night, or jam session.

Chances are, you’ll still be humming along to these mega-hits years from now!

What’s the best song everyone knows, 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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