This list contains the best songs that everyone knows (or almost everybody).
Every now and then, a song hits the waves that you can’t get out of your head. You think the thrill will soon pass, but years later, you are still listening to it. The songs grow and reach almost every ear on the planet. These are the songs everyone knows.
1. Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
Billie Jean came out in 1983, and it quickly went up to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s one of the few songs from the 80s that has over one billion views on YouTube and it’s also where Michael Jackson’s moonwalk started from. There were a lot of performances, and it was also featured in a Pepsi commercial.
2. Gasolina – Daddy Yankee Featuring Glory
Reggaeton rose to world dominance thanks to the Spanish song Gasolina. The term ‘gasolina’ means gasoline in Spanish, but it’s used with a double meaning and a sexual overtone in the song. Everyone has their own meaning of the song, and that is why it probably spread like wildfire.
3. What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction
One direction, a group of five English-Irish guys, transformed pop forever. Every prepubescent boy or girl could not resist the song and it addressed most young ladies’ insecurities. The accompanying video received over a billion views. It started by causing a stir among the young people in Britain, but it wasn’t long before everyone else was on board.
4. Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) – Beyoncé
Well, if you haven’t sung along to single ladies at least once, I don’t know where you have been living. Humor aside, this song is known everywhere. It talks about the fear men have for commitment. The universality of the song made everyone relate to it. The song has three Grammy Awards. The black and white music video and the dance routine are very enticing.
5. Despacito – Luis Fonsi Featuring Daddy Yankee
If YouTube views are anything to go by, “Despacito” is the second most-watched video in the world. The song was done by two Puerto Rican singers in 2017. Later on, there was a remix version featuring Justin Bieber, which increased the song’s popularity. It became the second fully Spanish song to top the Billboard hot 100 after ‘Macarena.’ The song topped charts in almost fifty different countries.
6. Chandelier – Sia
”Chandelier” is one of the songs everyone knows. There are many catchy phrases in the lyrics that have been used repeatedly in movies and other videos. Sia expresses her struggles with substance abuse through the song. Even though she rarely shows her face, her voice has been heard everywhere in the world.
7. Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran
Everybody loves ‘Shape Of You,’ and it shows by the many views from all over the globe. The song has a very simple tune and the most romantic lyrics. It was released in 2017 and, within no time, the dancehall-infused pop song was number one in more than thirty countries. It is featured in many weddings and proposals.
8. Let Me Love You – Mario
”Let me love you” was a smash hit in 2004. Even the cold-hearted couldn’t resist the beats and words on this R&B ballad. The song received a lot of recognition and nominations, including the airplay song of the year. That shows how far and wide this song is still loved across the globe.
9. Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
Taylor had a lot of fans and hit records, but this song was a global masterpiece. Everyone was shaking it off to the sick beats. The song remained number one on Billboard’s list for four weeks. The dance-pop song was released in 2014 and it is has been watched over one billion times.
10. Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson Featuring Bruno Mars
This song was number one in nineteen countries, and it’s the seventh most-watched video on YouTube. Even with copyright lawsuits, no one could have stopped the song from reaching everyone. It’s the most successful song from both Bruno Mars and Ronson. It was performed in some of the biggest television shows in the US and the UK.
11. Cry Me A River – Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake netted a Grammy Award because of this song. It talks about a cheating girlfriend. It’s the ultimate breakup song; that is why people listened to it so much. The song was released on a CD as well. There are other versions of the song covered by different artists, which helped it reach many people.
12. See You Again – Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth
The song was released in 2015 as an official Fast and Furious Seven soundtrack. It was also a tribute to the late actor Paul Walker. Maybe that is why it’s one of the biggest songs in the world. The two artists are yet to break their record with the song. The movie franchise has millions of fans; that is why the song reached far and wide.
13. Happy – Pharrell Williams
Pharrell tried to capture the true spirit of happiness in this Oscar-nominated song. The song scored number one in over thirty countries. The chorus hook made it very easy for people all over the world to sing along. It is also the most downloaded single in the UK.
14. I Wanna Dance With Somebody – Whitney Houston
The ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ song is the pinnacle of 1980s pop music. The song was number one in Italy, Australia, the UK, and Germany, among other countries. It was a worldwide success, and the candy-colored music video helped. The song also has several awards, including a Grammy.
15. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
The only way to gauge if a song is known everywhere is by looking at the charts. The song topped charts in the US, France, Switzerland, the UK, and many others. It was nominated for a Grammy as the song of the year. It was the best-selling song in 2012 worldwide.
16. We Found Love – Rihanna
For ten non-consecutive weeks, Rihanna’s song topped the Billboard hot 100. It was also a big hit outside the United States in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the UK. It was performed on the biggest music shows like the British annual music awards and the Grammys.
17. Roar – Katy Perry
Who hasn’t roared to this empowering song of Katy Perry? The song touched every corner of this world with groundbreaking success and more than three billion views on YouTube. She performed the song under the Brooklyn Bridge and other famous places to promote it.
18. Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
Before ‘Shape of You,’ Ed Sheeran had another worldwide hit. For nineteen weeks, the song was among the top forty in the UK. It made it to number two on the Billboard hot 100 after its release. People from all over the globe have walked down the aisle and used it in thousands of videos online.
19. Sugar – Maroon 5
Maroon 5 is a famous American music band that has a lot of hit records. But Sugar is undeniably one of their most popular songs. After its release, it managed to reach the second spot on the US Billboard hot 100. There is a range of instruments in the song, which is part of the charm. Also, Adam Levin’s voice has always captured millions of people.
20. Yeah – Usher Featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris
The song was from Usher’s album ‘confessions,’ released in 2004. For twelve weeks straight, the song was top on the Billboard Hot 100. The response was the same in other countries worldwide. The choreography in the music video is also very catchy. It won a Grammy for the best rap collaboration.
21. Just The Way You Are – Bruno Mars
Even though the song received criticism mostly about the lyrics, it still was a hit. It came out in 2010 and, after a while, became number one at the US Billboard hot 100. The song talks about a woman’s beauty from start to finish.
22. Hello – Adele
‘Hello, it’s me’ is the opening phrase to one of the most popular songs ever made. It’s rare for a gloomy and somber song like this to become popular worldwide. But the brilliant chorus and Adele’s talent made the song a powerhouse with over two billion views. The song reigned for ten weeks at the top of Billboard hot 100.
23. Survivor – Destiny’s Child
Three iconic women release the biggest breakup song ever written. It has won several awards, including a Grammy. It was immediately a global success after its release. Most people can sing every word of the song because it has appeared in many movies and other videos. It was at the top of the United World Tracks chart for a long time.
24. All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
This is the only Christmas song that is played all year round without complaints from people. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 list while also receiving millions of views online. She re-recorded the song featuring Justin Bieber, which made the song even more popular.
25. Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
With over one billion views, ‘bad romance’ is still one of the most highly ranked and watched songs. The song received numerous awards and was the top song in over twenty countries. People bought over twelve million copies of this song worldwide. Billboard chose the song as the best in the 21st Century.
26. Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus
No one can forget Miley Cyrus swinging on the big wrecking ball in the video, even if they wanted to. After its release in 2013, the song made it to the top of the Billboard hot 100. The video was very provocative. Maybe the controversial video is what made the song hit more than one billion views.
27. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cindy Lauper
The most rebellious thing girls could do in the 80s was sing this song. The music video won a Grammy. Over thirty artists have paid homage to the song through different covers. The widely popular song managed to reach number two on the US Billboard hot 100. The popularity did not stop there; it spilled to other countries too.
Next: 80s music greatest hits
28. I Want It That Way – Backstreet Boys
Backstreet Boys have many songs that everyone knows, but this was a hit instantly. It’s a pop master class that hit the waves in 1999. You can say to anyone the phrase ‘tell me why,’ and they will immediately know the song. The boy band was one of the people’s favorites, so the song did not struggle to reach everyone.
29. Party In The USA – Miley Cyrus
The song’s chorus is the type you can’t get out of your head. Miley made the song number two in the Billboard Hot 100. The song captures the carefree and talks about Miley’s move from Nashville. It’s among the fastest-selling songs, with thousands of digital downloads from all over the world.
30. I Gotta Feeling – The Black Eyed Peas
The song debuted at the second position on the Billboard Hot 100. It topped twenty charts from different countries. “I Gotta Feeling” is the most downloaded song on iTunes. It also won a Grammy and was nominated as the song of the year. The group had other songs that were equally successful, but this one reached everyone.
31. We Belong Together – Mariah Carey
This song is an all-timer. Mariah Carey delivered a stellar pop song that has never lost its thrill since 2005. The song came after a decline in her career, and it received nominations from all over the country. Billboard believes it’s among the greatest songs of all time.
32. Old Town Road – Lil Nas X Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
Many people have tried to fuse rap and country before, but no one did the splendid job these two artists did. It’s a definitive single that everybody knows because of the chorus. The song’s popularity started on the app Tik Tok before making its way into the Billboard Hot 100.
33. Bodak Yellow – Cardi B
In 2017 everyone’s life changed forever with the debut song from Cardi B. The song was number one Billboard Hot 100 for three months. It also received an overwhelming number of views on YouTube. It’s said to be the best song of the decade by some of the best critics.
34. Drop It Like It’s Hot – Snoop Dog Featuring Pharrell Williams
This masterpiece dropped like it was hot in 2004. It’s considered iconic because it was on top of different musical charts, including New Zealand the US Billboard. The song was also nominated for a Grammy, but it did not win. The collaboration and production were also the reason the song was famous.
35. Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke Featuring Pharrell Williams and TI
The song was on top in twenty-five countries and among the top five in six others. Not even one song managed to remove ‘Blurred Lines’ from the US Billboard top spot for twelve weeks. The artists have performed the song in different countries for marketing purposes, and it became a global hit song.
36. Hotline Bling – Drake
This song was inescapable for a very long time. It talks about ghosting, which is something everyone can relate to. The song received a lot of parodies and memes. But if anything, they increased the song viewership and downloads. The song scoped two Grammys in 2017 and America Music Awards in 2016.
37. Dilemma – Nelly ft. Kelly Rowland
This RnB Ballad was released in 2002. The song is about a dilemma on whether to move on with someone new or not. It reached the Billboard Hot 100 list and topped it for ten non-consecutive weeks. It also passed the one billion views mark on YouTube.
38. Umbrella – Rihanna Featuring Jay Z
This song still holds up to date. The song is hip hop, pop, RnB with some rock elements. It’s no wonder it has several awards from musical houses. It won’t be fair if we forget to mention how the song topped charts across the globe. Taylor Swift, Vanilla Sky, and OneRepublic are some of the artists that have covered the song.
39. Super Bass – Nicki Minaj
Super Bass is from Nicki Minaj’s album Pink Friday. Her rap verses are always intoxicating and relatable. The song remained in the third position on the Billboard hot 100. It also reached the top ten in many countries, including the UK, Canada, and New Zealand. The lyrics are playful, and the music video is also a gem.
40. Girls Like You – Maroon 5 Featuring Cardi B
The song has over three billion views because it’s so addicting. Both artists have a huge number of fans, and the collaboration brought them all together. It was the number one song in the United States for seven weeks. A lot of notable women make appearances on the video. For thirty-three more weeks, the song was among the top ten.
41. Dark Horse – Katy Perry Featuring Juicy J
‘Dark horse’ combines many genres, including hip hop, pop, electropop, and pop-rap. That is why the song has amazing viewership because the artists attracted fans from a lot of genres. In 2013 the song was everywhere and looking back now, it seemed like it stayed on top for years. Katy Perry has performed the song in a lot of different countries.
42. Sorry – Justin Bieber
As the name suggests, Justin Bieber was pleading for a second chance throughout the song. The song was highly ranked in more than fifteen countries. It accomplished a lot of commercial success, which also indicates the popularity of the song. The artist has many hits like ‘intentions’ and ‘boyfriend.’ But sorry is the most listened to globally.
43. Lean On – Major Lazor and DJ Snake Featuring M0
‘Lean on’ appeals to a very large crowd. From the unique dance moves to beats, the song was destined for world domination. Of course, it was featured on the Billboard Hot 100 and other prominent music charts. The song is amongst the most-watched on YouTube, with three billion views and counting.
44. I’ll Make Love To You – Boyz II Men
This song is one of the classic baby-making songs that everybody can sing along to. It’s a very sensual song from the musical group. It stayed for fourteen weeks on the Billboard hot 100. That is enough to reach people in the most remote locations. It’s one of the biggest and greatest songs from the 90s.
45. My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
All the Titanic fans know the song word for word. It was recorded as the main soundtrack for the movie in 1997. It soon became a global tune with the number one spot in more than twenty countries. No one could miss the song, whether they are titanic fans or not.
46. I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
Everyone has tried to sing this song even if they can’t hit the high notes. The song was top for a very long time in more than one continent. Whitney’s vocals and live performances made the song what it is today. She scoped a Grammy because of the song.
47. Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5 Featuring Christina Aguilera
These two artists combined vocals to make one of the best songs of all time. The world received the song very well, especially the eighteen countries that made it number one. In the United States, the song was nominated for a Grammy.
48. Royals – Lorde
A fifteen-year-old girl made international history with one of the most famous songs ever. The song achieved international chart success, starting with the Billboard Hot 100. It was also diamond-certified by the Recording Industry Association of America.
49. Wannabe – Spice Girls
This song became like a symbol of empowerment in the 90s for women. The Spice Girls were a very big pop group, and the song attested to their talents. It won the British awards and the Invor Novello Awards. The song has back-to-back airplay on the radio too.
50. Hollaback Girl – Gwen Stefani
‘Hollaback Girl’ after its release received nominations, but unfortunately, it lost. However, it still became very popular and went up to the top of the Billboard list. For four weeks, people all over the world were listening to the number one song. The accompanying music video has millions of views.
51. Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson
This song from the American Idol winner was number two on the Us Billboard chart because “Candy Shop” was number one. However, it was number one on both pop 100 and pop songs charts. The popular song is considered one of the best in the decade. Kelly performed the song at the big stages, which increased popularity.
So there you have it, all the songs that everyone knows! Did we miss out on any top hits? Let us know by contacting us today!
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.