When you think of songs everyone knows, it’s always those songs that are catchy and infectious, songs that either makes you want to dance or sing along when you hear them.
Songs that make you remember a moment in your past, or a person in your life. Songs that when you sing out loud even just one tiny bit of a lyrics, definitely someone in the room would finish it for you.
Oh, but let’s be honest here too, not all songs everyone knows make you want to jump for joy when they start playing on the radio, sometimes songs get their popularity by infamy. Songs that make your ears bleed or make you want to get out of the room just to give yourself some peace of mind.
You hate these songs, but nonetheless, they are catchy – you might even surprise yourself humming these songs subconsciously while doing a different activity.
Finding songs that everyone knows, as simple as it may sound, is actually a gargantuan task. Not many songs feature an infectious lyric, melody, and beat to it enough to make people not forget about.
These songs are actually few in existence. In this list, we are giving you. in no particular order, the 20 songs that everyone know (or if you don’t know about them, once you hear these songs, you will not be forgetting about them.)
We searched far and wide, from all corners of the globe, to give you this list that will feature songs from different generations. So. without further ado. let’s start singing along to these tunes!
What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes
What else can we say about the alternative rock anthem that defined and changed the trajectory of the music industry in the 1990s. What’s Up features a simple melody with an easily identifiable riff – once the song starts, you already what it is and in no time, you’ll be singing and shouting your lungs off just to reach the high notes especially towards the end of the song.
But of course, no one can deny that the vocal performance of band lead Linda Perry was top notch. That raspy yet emotional voice surely gave us chills paired with the fantastic lyrics.
And for the people of the internet, you probably know this song from a video that circulated around the internet even before the word “meme” even existed: a disco and funky remix of What’s Up plays with the video of He-Man on a technicolor rainbow background. Yes, that video, you’ve heard of it.
Imagine by John Lennon
Speaking of anthems: John Lennon’s song outside of his band, the Beatles, is definitely a song everyone knows. The song and the values it espouse is so timeless that it could be sang in the 1800s or in the 2000s and every single person in the world can still relate and might shed a single tear from their eye.
The message of the song is simple, imagine a world of peace where everyone lives happy, and in a world plagued with countries warring with each other, children starving in the streets, and disasters devastating lives in every corner of the globe, “imagining” is as escape, but it also gives hope.
And John Lennon’s Imagine offers an escape while giving us that spark of hope to act and create a better world. And why does everyone know this song?
Every time the world is lodged in a tight predicament, this song is sure to play (in open d tuning) in the next days, to give us hope. You might even remember Kristen Wiig and other stars singing this during the early months of the pandemic.
It’s My Life by Bon Jovi
From one anthem to another, Bon Jovi’s It’s My Life is song that you want to sing when you are ready tell the world that you will be living your life on your own terms and conquer the world.
Not ‘conquer the world” that would make other people sing Imagine by John Lennon, but this makes us feel like we can do anything that we are in full control of our life, that nothing can stop us, and that living life on the edge is the only way to live.
This makes us want to drive on a highway at full speed (but while wearing a seatbelt of course!) Even if you don’t have the ability and vocal chops to reach the ridiculous notes Jon Bovi Jovi is screaming at. you will try your best because you want to feel the song flow through your veins.
Umbrella by Rihanna
The song that skyrocketed the career of one of the greatest pop stars of contemporary music, who is also a modern business woman nowadays.
One hit of that cymbal at the start, and you already know, get your umbrella’s go to the nearest puddle of water available, and it’s time to feel to kick it. Umbrella, albeit a love song, doesn’t feel like it. and that’s what makes it so well-known.
Even if you can’t relate to what Rihanna is singing about, you just want to sing together with her because the beat is so good, the hook so catchy, and lyrics just rolls off the tongue. Rihanna has so many more hits that are so infectious, but Umbrella takes the cake.
Rolling in the Deep by Adele
Have you ever loved someone so much it hurts? And then you caught them cheating on you despite everything? Well, here’s song you can sing to them to tell them that you’re going to ruin their lives. Adele’s Rolling in the Deep tells the story of s a person who was hurt by their lover, but they aren’t going to take it sitting down, instead they are coming out to seek revenge.
Adele literally sang “you’re gonna wish you never had met me.’ and we just want to ask the powerful songstress, what is she planning? What is she going to do? If you really think about it this tune is an empowerment song, just an incredibly dark one.
And that’s probably why everyone sings and knows about this song, secretly, they want to get back on the people who hurt them. But there’s no denying, Adele is one of the greatest vocalists of all time, and this song just solidified her spot in the hall of fame of singers at the very young age of 21!
I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas
The Black Eyed Peas’ I Gotta Feeling is another one of those tunes that just by hearing the first few beats of the song, you already know what’s up! There are two ways to enjoy and appreciate this song: play this bop at your house party or at the club, and everyone starts fist bumping and jumping once the chorus hits.
The song will convince you that this night is going to be the best night of your life, and honestly, half of having fun is hyping yourself that you are indeed having fun. manifest and own it.
You can also sing this to your friend who is just having a rough time in his life and wouldn’t get out of their room. This will definitely give the energy boost and motivation to stand up. get dressed, and seize the night!
Old Town Road by Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road is probably the most recent song in this list, and probably the shortest as well. If you’ve never heard of this song and Lil Nas X, were you really living in 2019 or were you living in a cave?
Mixing country and rap, two genres that we wouldn’t think about mixing together. Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus achieved a less than two-minute music masterpiece with a great beat and the catchiest hook.
And many thought Lil Nas X was going to be a one-hit wonder, they were proven wrong. Not only is Lil Nas X still relevant and continues to churn out great and catchy raps, the 19 year old rapper is also one of the most influential musicians and torch bearers for many LGBTQIA+ communities! Good for you, Lil Nas X!
Stacy’s Mom by Fountains of Wayne
The song that ushered in the sexual awakening of many teenage boys (and girls, too. probably, who are we to judge?) in the early to late 2000s.
The song is lyrically so funny that it’s crossing over to being poetic, the melody is simple but it’s great, and the chorus is incredibly catchy which would make you sing along even though it might make you laugh midway because you’re basically expressing your adoration to an adult, your friend’s mother even.
All of this made this song a massive success when it came out and the years to follow. To Rachel Hunter, thank you for defining the adolescent years of many teenagers in the early 2000s (wink).
Wannabe by Spice Girls
These days we throw around the phrase ‘cultural reset” too liberally at just about any song that is fairly decent. But if we want to talk about the song that actually did a ‘cultural reset.’ it happened in the 1990s when the Spice Girls said “Yooooo!” and then sang the song that blew the world by storm.
Wannabe is another anthem aimed to cater to groups of girls who got each other’s backs who will not allow any man to ruin their best friend, you have to be part of the group too if you want to be with the woman.
This iconic song by the Spice Girls solidified them as the blueprint for other girl (and boy) bands. There’s a reason why we lost our minds when these five girls reunited to open the 2012 London Olympics.
I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor
Whereas Adele is singing about revenge and getting back at the man who hurt her, Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive is just a self-empowering track that tells the man to just leave her alone, she doesn’t need him, and she will thrive even without him. Good for her!
The song starts dramatically as if we are going to hear a ballad, but very quickly picks up the pace to actually be a disco track that invites us to hit it on the dance floor.
The song is a massive hit and so timeless, you can actually still hear this song playing in clubs. That’s how powerful this song has resonated to everyone that it became a legendary dance hit that everyone knows about.
Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus
The music video for this hit bop features Miley Cyrus and friends in a car travelling in what looks like a tropical paradise, while the child star from Nickelodeon sings one of her catchiest and infectious tracks.
And that’s how you should and would feel once you listen to this song – it makes you want to invite your friends to go on the best road trip of your probably already fun-filled lives, while belting out this song as you zoom across highways.
Even if you weren’t born or currently not living in the United States of America, no one can stop you from screaming from the top your lungs how fun it is to party in the USA.
Hey Ya by Outkast
I’ve mentioned earlier how many people thought Lil Nas X was going to be a one-hit wonder, but then the teenager just expanded his career ever since Old Town Road. The same can’t be said to Outkast, though. If someone asks you to name five songs from the band, you already lost before the timer even started.
But their song Hey Ya gave them their five minute of fame, and decades of fun for everyone who still remembers and dances to this song. It’s hard to get this song out of your head, and the music video is equally harder to forget, not in a bad way.
The video fully showcases the bands weirdness and goofiness, and honestly, we all are still expecting another bop from these weirdos. Anytime now. Outkast, come on!
Barbie Girl by Aqua
And here’s another group that suffered the same fate as Outkast. If there’s a gun to our head and we are asked to name other songs by Aqua, we might as well just pull the trigger ourselves.
The song’s lyrics is actually pretty simple, you’re a Barbie girl in a Barbie world. Apparently, being in that state is amazing because according to Aqua, life in plastic is fantastic.
We don’t actually know and it makes us scratch our heads, but it sounds fun, right? Love it or hate it, this song is stuck in our heads the moment we heard it. We might not know what Aqua is actually trying to say when they unleashed this beast unto the world, but we love to sing about it still.
All Star by Smash Mouth
The song that spawned a thousand memes. But before it was a meme-machine. Smash Mouth’s All Star was already a hit song by itself, up there with the likes of Stacy’s Mom by Fountains of Wayne, songs that define the teenage years of many people.
Of course, this song got an extra boost of popularity when it was cleverly used by the movie Shrek which actually started the roll-out of the memes that we are all familiar with. However, just by itself, it’s already an infectious song, with one of the most iconic intro lines.
It might not be actually clear for everyone what Smash Mouth was singing about because of the surreal tones of the lyrics, but does it really matter? This song is fun to sing along with!
Dancing Queen by ABBA
While some songs on this list got their fame and notoriety for being corny but also being catchy and simple enough that we gain retention. ABBA’s Dancing Queen is on a different game. This disco track is actually one of the greatest songs of all time: it is well written, it has great musicality, and makes all of us dance and have fun.
Unlike many disco songs who get their power to make people groove because of the beat. Dancing Queen forces you to hit the dance floor because it possesses you and tells you that you are the dancing queen and no one can take that away from you.
It’s a party song and it’s a self-empowerment song, both are good recipe to make the track one of the most well-known songs in the world.
(Hit Me) Baby One More Time by Britney Spears
The OG. and the one and only pop princess of the world of course makes our list. This is list will not be complete if we don’t acknowledge the power, influence, and hold that Britney Spears has on us. And of course, the song that makes the list is the track that catapulted the former teen star and now a fulltime superstar into the fame that launched a thousand ships.
While Spice Girls is the blueprint for girl groups, Britney Spears and her hit single (Hit Me) Baby One More Time is the blueprint for aspiring young artists who want to become one of the greatest names in Hollywood.
It’s hard to forget about the song with its lyrics that begs the center of our attention to “give us a sign” because the loneliness is killing us. But honestly, would you want to forget such a great song? Not us.
Gangnam Style by Psy
This is the only dominantly non-English song in this list. Gangnam Style is actually a K-Pop (Korean Pop for the uneducated) song by a K-Pop artist named Psy. And it being not an English song and still making this list tells a lot about the impact of this song.
The only way you can sing along to this song is if you can actually speak Korean, but otherwise, you will just be mumbling words to its tune. And no will blame you!
You might not know the lyrics or how actually sing it but it’s so infectious that we just allow ourselves to let out what ever sound that would come out of our mouths and we will call it singing along to Gangnam Style. And equally as catchy is the dance that comes with it, that mimics horse riding. For us non-Koreans, this isn’t making a lot of sense… and we love it!
Single Ladies by Beyonce
Yes, destiny only has one child, and that is the queen bee herself. Beyonce. No one will argue with you if you say that Beyonce is the most talented human being in the planet. She really is at the top!
She has an amazing vocal power, she is a great dancer who cannot be upstaged at all because of stage presence, she is beautiful, and she is a great lyricist.
While the queen already released iconic tracks such Crazy In Love, when she released Single Ladies, it was over for everyone. She sang like no other people’s business, she danced so effortlessly, and the music video was all in one take. It’s as if she’s saying to every pop start in the past present in future “you can try. but you can never be me.”
And we are okay with that Let’s bow down to the queen.
Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
From one queen, we’re jumping to the real Queen. Honestly, the way this band revolutionized and changed not just the rock industry, but the whole music industry during their prime, is something we should be thankful for every day.
Queen’s whole discography is so iconic and known to everyone humankind that has ever walked the earth after their debuted. However, the one that is making the list is their most famous song: the rock and ballad and opera anthem for misunderstood people, Bohemian Rhapsody.
The song is whole 6 minutes of pure greatness. There is not one person who doesn’t know about this song if there is one, that person is probably an infant who doesn’t have object permance just yet. Just we did to Beyonce, we must bow down to these kings and legends. Rest in power, Freddy Mercury!
Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley
Ask yourself this, did you really just read this article just for you to realize at the end that this is a convoluted way to ‘Rick-roll’ you? We will not admit, we are also not denying it.
Honestly, it’s hard trace how Rick-rolling started, a meme made to lure and click-bait unsuspecting internet- surfers to watch a video, only to realize that it was actually to just force you to listen to Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley.
While the song already had solidified itself as not great, but decent song, the Rick-roll memes made by millions of people earn made this song so popular that everyone actually knows about it now.
And there you have it, the 20 songs that everyone knows. This list is not exhaustive of course, there are countless others that are equally iconic and legendary that could’ve made it into this list, but after reading, we could already hear you humming most of the songs.
Good luck getting these songs out of your head!