Music is an expression. Songs encapsulate precious moments in their lyrics and overlay them with a melody that gets us right into our guts. It doesn’t matter the music genre or the time when the song came out – it always has the opportunity to rock our world. Especially if it has nice beats, creates a good mood and has a sensible message. No wonder Arthur Schopenhauer said “music is food for the soul”.
Here are 33 nostalgic songs that take us back to different worlds we have experienced in the past.
1. “Shape of You” – Ed Sheeran
“Shape of you” takes you back to the finding love adventure. We know you have experienced this. You are in a bar with your friends, and then someone at the other end of the bar catches your eye. So you go to them with your heart pumping, and just like magic, you hit it off. Before you know it, you wake up in the same bed, and from there on, you can’t get enough of each other.
2. “What’s Love Got to Do With It” – Tina Turner
Even just by mentioning Tina Turner, everybody feels some type of way. But when a song like this drops, it’s straight to memory lane. The 80’s nostalgia that grips most people with such a tune is evident in their faces.
In this song, you remember when you were conflicted about love, you had the butterflies, but you were unsure whether to fall.
3. “Hello”– Lionel Richie
Aren’t the 80’s just the best? Artists like Lionel Richie seem to understand our emotions intimately and then lay them out in a song that, until today, is as sentimental as ever. “Hello” takes us to that moment when you meet an absolute angel in your life and cannot wait to pour your heart out to them.
4. “Levitating”– Dua Lipa Ft. DaBaby
The nostalgic aspect of the song is even introduced in the title of the album – Future Nostalgia. Levitating is precisely what you feel when you are on the dance floor, the music blasting, and you are hyped to the core. In this tune, Dua Lipa levitates you to unmatched nostalgia.
The addition of DaBaby in the song cements your out-of-body experience with the song.
5. “Call Me Maybe” – Carly Rae Jepsen
Have you experienced something close to this? You are a resident of a given street, so you know all your neighbors, but you see a new face when you are throwing away your trash one morning. Your physiology changes. You feel cold but sweaty. You’re excited but can’t show it. You want to talk to them so badly. So, you find a way to sneak your number to them, and while winking, you tell them, “Call me Maybe.”
They will feel the nostalgia for sure! This song is such a darling to many millennials. You definitely remember singing along each time it played, while it was brand new. We still sing along to those beats up to today.
6. “My Heart Will Go On” – Celine Dion
“My Heart Will Go On” expresses the classic promise of a romantic experience. We all want a person who will go to the ends of the world for us and with us.
In addition, the song is famous for featuring on the Titanic. A movie that goes over an actual real-life occurrence with a touch of the perfect love story.
The nostalgia of this song is all-encompassing, from our own love experiences and commitments to the legendary Celine Dion and the unforgettable movie Titanic. There is no way this song does not sweep you to a charming place.
7. “Umbrella”– Rihanna
“Umbrella” is a classic from 15 years ago. When the song comes on, you can’t help but appreciate how it reminds you of good times. The times your ride or die came through for you despite the rain and the thunderstorm.
Rihanna does an outstanding job of encapsulating what we all look for in our partners. We all just need someone who can shelter us from the rain.
8. “Remember When”– Alan Jackson
In this song, Alan Jackson takes us through the polaroid of a love story. From the spark that lights up the fire of love through the ups and downs.
When he starts every stanza with the words “Remember When,” instantly you are sent to that moment when what he talks about in the stanza happened. And even if it has not yet happened to you, you can vividly picture it, and suddenly, you are flooded with the emotions of the event.
9. “I Want It That Way” – Backstreet Boys
‘You are my fire, the one desire.’ Don’t you want it just that way? You definitely reminisce the moments of being someone’s “fire” and the only person they want to spend their lives with.
The ‘Millennium,’ which is the album where this song comes from, is a classic just before crossing this millennium. When you listen to the song, suddenly you start playing images of the good old days.
10. “You’re Beautiful” – James Blunt
We all have ‘the lost one.’ The one person who you met and they were absolutely gorgeous, but the circumstances were not right, so you had to let it go.
James’s “You’re Beautiful” takes you to that bitter-sweet moment when you fell, but you never got to share it with the person you fell for. The nostalgia of this moment triggers a smile and a tear simultaneously.
11. “Somebody That I Used to Know”– Gotye Featuring Kimbra
At a particular time in our lives, we wonder how we moved from strangers to lovers and then back to strangers. It is scary to think that the person you are with now could become a total stranger to you.
However, Gotye, featuring Kimbra, writes of the situation impeccably well. The lyrics of the song and the instrumentation bring your heartbreak to life, and you can feel it as though it is real-time.
12. “Temperature” – Sean Paul
“Temperature” is the perfect song to take you back to those bad boys’ days – the days you would go to the downtown club and have fun bussing your bad boy moves on the dance floor.
This song is a classic of its own as the memories that you created during those days are irreplaceable. Good times indeed.
13. “Love the Way You Lie” – Eminem Ft. Rihanna
With his impeccable storytelling ability and unmatched lyricism, Eminem tags along with Rihanna for her ear-soothing melodies to tell the story that we relate to all too well.
We have had that one person who brings out the worst in us, but we can never get to leave because it is also the most real thing we have ever felt.
14. “God’s Plan” – Drake
“God’s Plan” is a Drake song that dropped in 2020. The world at the time definitely needed the song. But even after 2020, the song continues to inspire us. The reminder that what is happening is still God’s plan is a powerful message that we all need every now and then.
In addition, this song took it to another level with the video. When you watch the charitable acts in the video, your heart melts. One of the best nostalgia that we all wish we could have all the time.
15. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” – John Denver
Two things that bring us to a state of serenity are our home and our momma. John Denver includes them both in this classic song.
The way he sings and the way the song is written pulls you back to a reminiscing moment, where you remember your hometown and the beautiful memories there. You remember all the precious moments with your momma, and it couldn’t get any more sentimental.
16. “7 Years”– Lukas Graham
In four minutes, Lukas Graham takes us through our entire lives. By singing about different stages of his life and his relationships, he is able to chronicle us from our childhood to when we are elderly.
No matter what stage of life you are in, when Graham sings, either you are taken to your memory, or you get to see your life, family, and relationship aspirations.
The somberness of the tune also allows for a laid back reflective attitude.
17. “Girls Like You” – Maroon 5 Ft. Cardi B
Girls like you is a song for all girls. First of all, the song is just good vibes from the artist singing the song to the writing to the production. But what elevates the song is the video.
To start with, Adam is seen singing while the camera goes around, and in smooth transitions, we see various powerful and accomplished women join him in the punning video.
Some of the women include Mary J Blige, Gal Gadot, Jeniffer Lopez, Ellen DeGeneres, Tiffany Haddish, and Camila Cabello.
But then, Cardi B. seals the whole experience with her powerful verse.
18. “Thinking Out Loud” – Ed Sheeran
There are several reasons why people fall in love, one of them being that they want someone they can grow old with. Thinking out Loud is a song where Ed Sheeran is giving a testimony of their love at the time.
The song carries a strong promise of the future, growing old together. Listening to the song, you definitely feel goosebumps, and your heart beats a little faster thinking of the person you want to spend your life with.
19. “Perfect” – Ed Sheeran
Just from the song’s name, “Perfect,” the song is nothing short of that. The writing of the song is just right. As a result, the song soothes you to a life closer to a fairy tale.
Although life is demarcated with ups and downs, we glimpse what perfect looks and feels like every now and then. With this song, we get transported to those moments, and we can’t help but reminisce with a smile on our faces.
20. “All of Me” – John Legend
“You are my end and my beginning.” Such a nice feeling to have. Nothing tops feeling as if someone completes you. In this song, written for his wife, John restates his unconditional commitment to finding “the one”.
All of me is what we essentially say in marital vows. Giving such a commitment and listening to this song will take you through that magical mystery ride.
21. “I’m Yours” – Jason Mraz
Notorious for his smooth, serenading tunes, Jason Mraz is guaranteed to tickle your emotions and transport you to a place of calm and composure.
In “I’m Yours”, the singer offers himself to love and experience. He takes you back to the times when you decided to take the step and risk it. At the time, you just wanted to dive deep and be carried by the romantic waves.
22. “Rolling in the Deep” – Adele
As shown in the video, Rolling in the Deep is the song you play when you are sad, alone in the house, feeling like smashing everything on the wall.
You cannot fathom why someone could crash your heart like that. You had handed it into their hands, and instead of nurturing it with care and concern, they closed their hand and squeezed as hard as possible. You think of how perfect it could have been, but now your heart is in pieces.
23. “Without Me” – Halsey
“Without Me” is a classic story of betrayal. You meet a person who is not in their best shape or form. You love them and make it your effort to build them up. Once they are well refurbished, they leave you high and dry.
Halsey walks us through the emotions we experience in such scenarios in this deeply nostalgic song.
24. “I Won’t Give Up” – Jason Mraz
The song sets a very somber mood. If you are fast to cry, this one will get you teary. Jason Mraz gently takes us through the experience of loving someone, and your darts don’t seem to align, and you commit to patiently waiting and walking with them until you manifest your love.
The song might feel as if it is for hopeless romantics, but it is a fundamental human emotion deep down. We do not give up on the people we love, despite how complicated or crazy it gets.
25. “Not Afraid” – Eminem
“Not Afraid” is the one song that does not miss in any workout playlist. It is just the right song to get you pumped and moving. Combined with the robust delivery, the lyrics lift your energy through the roof.
Even if you were not feeling like doing anything, you spring to action, and with the song blasting in your ears, you keep doing it, and hopefully, you see results that you can look back to and be happy about yourself.
When the song comes up, we can all pinpoint a time when we just needed a push, and Eminem got us to cross the chasm.
26. “I Just Called to Say I Love You” – Stevie Wonder
I read a meme that said most relationships start from the text, ‘I was just checking upon you.’ However, it seems Stevie Wonder was way ahead of this trend.
Stevie goes through yearly seasons in this song, noting that nothing much is happening, but he has just called to say how much he loves her. Such honesty and spontaneity are what we all crave in our relationships.
Therefore, you can’t help but reminisce when listening to this soothing tune.
27. “Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson Ft. Bruno Mars
The alternating bass voice and claps that open to this tune put you in a funk mode. While on the dance floor, you ready your moves and find your space so that when the beat drops, you are on the floor.
Uptown Funk is an unforgettable tune that transports people to a confident space. A place where you own who you are and cancel the world’s noise.
When feeling lost, uptown Funk will pump you up, and at that moment, you’ll remember who you are and how you roll.
28. “Someone Like You” – Adele
Cuddled in a bowl of chocolate in a dimly lit room, thinking about that relationship that seemed to be going all well for you, then suddenly came to an end.
You reminisce about how they were the best partner for you, how they understood you, how they treated you, and how you felt around them.
At that moment, your only solace is the belief that there is someone else out there who will make you feel the same.
29. “Party Rock Anthem” – LMFAO
For all concert goers and revelers, you certainly have memories of breaking bones to this tune. But, as in the name, this song is just meant to bring the roof down.
The song’s explosive dance styles guarantee that you will remember the song after shuffling your night away. The classic dance song is etched in our memories, and despite how old you are, when the tune drops, you feel like your body wants to move.
30. “Royals” – Lorde
‘That kind of luxe just ain’t for us. We crave a different kind of buzz.’ This classic line tells what “Royals” is all about.
The song is for misfits and outliers, which we all feel like at different times in our lives. In the song, Lorde emphasizes that the flashy life of flaunting wealth and chasing paper is not what people like her dream of.
Listening to Royals, you can’t help but meditate on who you are and what type of life you want to be pursuing.
31. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” – Bobby McFerrin
It is very easy to be caught up in life’s daily hassle and bustle. But Bobby McFerrin comes in and reminds you not to worry, just be happy.
The song allows us just a few minutes of allowing ourselves to kick back our chairs and enjoy even the fact that we are alive.
Although the song was released long ago, it is one of those songs whose relevance never fades.
32. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” – Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston’s name cannot miss out when listing the top music legends ever to walk the earth. Whitney Houston’s name cannot miss. She gave us unforgettable tunes, among them, “I Want to Dance With Somebody.”
While the song is a dance floor hit song, it carries sentimentality that we only experience in the cozy embrace of the one we love. If the song hits you in the middle of the night alone, you inevitably get lost in the sea of memories where there are tight hugs and warm embraces.
But if it starts playing when at a gathering, you quickly find your soulmate, and you shake it down together.
33. “We Found Love” – Rihanna Ft. Calvin Harris
A collaboration between Rihanna and Calvin Harris is a collaboration and the giants. These two phenomenal artists gave a hot tune to this day. While on the dance floor, you can’t help but want to dance with somebody.
In the song Shape of You, Ed Sheeran says that the club isn’t the best place to find love, but in this song, Rihanna says maybe even in a hopeless place, you can find love. Some people have such a story, and this song is very reminiscent.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.