The Top 100 Songs That We Had the Nerve to Rank

Whether you are a rock and roll lover, a funk fan, or more of a hip-hop aficionado, some songs are just undeniably better and more successful than the rest. These tunes transcend time, trend, and genre and have earned a place in the legendary realm of the classics.

Michael Jackson / Bruce Springsteen / Jay-Z and Beyoncé / Metallica
Source: Getty Images

From Elvis, the Beatles, and Stevie Wonder to Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, and Eminem, our list comprises various genres and periods throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Spanning from no. 100 to no. 1, these are the catchiest, most iconic, chart-topping, critically acclaimed, fan-favorite hits.

100. Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright) – Rod Stewart

Year: 1976

Written By: Rod Stewart

The Part Everyone Knows:

Tonight’s the night
It’s gonna be alright
‘Cause I love you, girl
Ain’t nobody gonna stop us now

Sir Rod Stewart dances with outstretched arms on stage.
Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images

The suggestive lyrics of Tonight’s the Night were considered less than proper when it was released on A Night on the Town in 1976. Nevertheless, Stewart’s song became a huge hit and quickly rose to no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, where it remained for over two months. Stewart was inspired to write the single when Dan Peek of the band America played Today’s the Day for him.

99. In the End- Linkin Park

Year: 2000

Written By: Chester Bennington, Mike Shinoda, Joe Hahn, Rob Bourdon, and Brad Delson

The Part Everyone Knows:

I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter

Joe Hahn, Chester Bennington, David 'Phoenix' Farrell, Mike Shinoda, Rob Bourdon, and Brad Delson pose in front of two semi-trucks.
Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty Images

The final single of Linkin Park’s debut album, Hybrid Theory, In the End, almost got cut because the band’s lead singer Chester Bennington had reservations about the song being too quiet and unlike their other material. After Chester took his own life, the nu-metal hit ironically became even more of a classic due to his emotional vocals mixed with Mike Shinoda’s rap.

98. I Want to Hold Your Hand- The Beatles

Year: 1963

Written By: John Lennon and Paul McCartney

The Part Everyone Knows:

Yeah, you got that somethin’
I think you’ll understand
When I feel that somethin’
I want to hold your hand

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

I Want to Hold Your Hand was The Beatles’ first no.1 hit in America and signified the beginning of the “British Invasion.” Lennon and McCartney wrote the song side by side, or as Lennon was quoted in Playboy Magazine, “one on one, eyeball to eyeball.” The song is credited with not only setting off Beatlemania but with ushering in a new era of music.

97. Endless Love- Diana Ross & Lionel Richie

Year: 1981

Written By: Lionel Richie

The Part Everyone Knows:

Two hearts
Two hearts that beat as one
Our lives have just begun

Lionel Ritchie and Diana Ross team up to perform their hit
Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

Named by Billboard as the greatest song duet, Endless Love is a timeless classic covered by everyone from Mariah Carey to Shania Twain. Ross and Richie recorded the song for Motown Records as a theme for the film Endless Love. Despite the movie being only a moderate success, the theme song became the second biggest hit single of the year. The song is almost both Ross and Richie’s biggest hit.

96. 96 Tears – ? & The Mysterians

Year: 1966

Written By: Rudy Martinez

The Part Everyone Knows:

Too many teardrops for one heart to be crying

Posed group portrait of Question Mark and the Mysterians.
Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images

Fittingly at number 96, is the hit single 96 Tears by ? and The Mysterians that is known for its organ beat and raw lyrics. The song was the title single of their 1966 album and reached no.1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The true significance of 96 Tears came later when it was credited as one of the first garage rock hits that kicked off the punk movement.

95. Bette Davis Eyes- Kim Carnes

Year: 1981

Written By: Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon

The Part Everyone Knows:

And she’ll tease you; she’ll unease you
All the better just to please you

Kim Carnes is posing, smiling with a red flower in her hair.
Photo by Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

Bette Davis Eyes was initially recorded by Jackie DeShannon in the ’70s but was popularized by Kim Carnes in 1981. Loved for its signature synthesizer sound, it was the biggest hit of ’81 and won the Grammy for Song of the Year. Bette Davis herself loved it and sent roses and thank you notes to Weiss, DeShannon, and Carnes.

94. Blowin’ in the Wind- Bob Dylan

Year: 1963

Written By: Bob Dylan

The Part Everyone Knows:

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Bob Dylan warms up for a performance with an acoustic guitar and harmonica
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Considered an anthem for the Civil Rights movement and a protest song, Blowin’ in the Wind’s lyrics are pretty ambiguous. Dylan was inspired by an anti-slavery spiritual called No More Auction Block. The song went on to inspire Sam Cooke to write A Change Is Gonna Come.

93. Yeah! – Usher Featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris

Year: 2004

Written By: Usher, Sean Garrett, Patrick J. Que Smith, Robert McDowell, LRoc, Ludacris, and Lil Jon

The Part Everyone Knows:

Shorty got down low said, come and get me
(Yeah!) Yeah!
I got so caught up; I forgot she told me
(Yeah!) Yeah!

Usher, Ludacris, and Lil' Jon pose at a party.
Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty Images

Yeah! is the first single from Usher’s 2004 album Confessions. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 12 weeks in a row. It was Lil Jon who mixed crunk with mainstream R&B in the production, making Yeah! the first song to do so.

92. Lose Yourself- Eminem

Year: 2002

Written By: Eminem

The Part Everyone Knows:

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti

Eminem poses in a hotel hallway.
Photo by Sal Idriss/Redferns/Getty Images

Lose Yourself was released as the top single for the soundtrack of 8 Mile. The song summarizes the struggles Eminem’s character in the movie deals with, from domestic abuse, his mother’s drug addiction, and raising his daughter to the battle to gain the respect of his fellow rappers. The song was Eminem’s first no.1 single, and it won the Oscar for Best Original Song.

91. Un-Break My Heart- Toni Braxton

Year: 1996

Written By: Dianne Warren

The Part Everyone Knows:

Un-break my heart
Say you’ll love me again

Toni Braxton poses for a portrait.
Photo by Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images

One of the best-selling singles in history, Un-Break My Heart, came out on Braxton’s sophomore album, Secrets. Toni supposedly hated the song and didn’t want to record it because she didn’t want another heartbreak song on her album. However, despite the broken-hearted theme, the song plays like an R&B dance power ballad and topped the charts for eleven weeks. The song is regarded as Braxton’s finest work and went on to win a Grammy.

90. Baby Got Back- Sir Mix-A-Lot

Year: 1992

Written By: Sir Mix-A-Lot

The Part Everyone Knows:

I like big butts, and I cannot lie
You other brothers can’t deny
That when a girl walks in with an itty-bitty waist…

Sir Mix-a-Lot shows off his “Mix-a-Lot” ring set on stage.
Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage/Getty Images

Despite its controversial lyrics, Baby Got Back was the second best-selling single of 1992 and hit no.1 one on the charts for five weeks. It may be graphic and sexual, but the song has a positive message and is meant to “broaden the definition of beauty” and give more media representation to full-figured women.

89. Suspicious Minds- Elvis Presley

Year: 1969

Written By: Mark James

The Part Everyone Knows:

We’re caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much, baby

Elvis Presley performs on stage in his iconic jumpsuit.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Suspicious Minds may have been one of Elvis’s biggest hits, but the song was actually a cover, written and recorded first by Mark James. It was nevertheless the hit that revived Presley’s career and began his comeback. James shared that he wrote the song about his first wife’s mistrust towards him for still having feelings for his childhood sweetheart.

88. We Belong Together- Mariah Carey

Year: 2005

Written By: Mariah Carey, Jermaine Dupri, Manuel Seal, and Johntá Austin + Bobby Womack, Babyface, Darnell Bristol, and Sid Johnson

The Part Everyone Knows:

When you left, I lost a part of me
It’s still so hard to believe
Come back, baby, please…

Mariah Carey performs on stage.
Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown/WireImage/Getty Images

From Mariah’s album The Emancipation of Mimi, We Belong Together raced to the top and resurrected her dying career. The song features lyrics from Bobby Womack’s If You Think You’re Lonely Now and The Deeles’ Two Occasions.

87. Dancing in the Street- Martha and The Vandellas

Year: 1964

Written By: William “Mickey” Stevenson, Ivy Jo Hunter, and Marvin Gaye

The Part Everyone Knows:

All we need is music, sweet music
There’ll be music everywhere
There’ll be swingin’, swayin’ and records playing
And dancing in the street

Martha and Vandellas pose for a studio portrait.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Dancing in the Street was popularized by Martha and the Vandellas in 1964 as a signature Motown song and the group’s premiering single. It’s garnered covers ever since, including versions by The Mamas and the Papas, Van Halen, David Bowie and Mick Jagger, The Kinks, Grateful Dead, and Little Richard.

86. Light My Fire- The Doors

Year: 1967

Written By: Robby Krieger, John Densmore, Jim Morrison, and Ray Manzarek

The Part Everyone Knows:

Come on, baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire

Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger pose in front of a collection of mirrors.
Photo by Mark and Colleen Hayward/Getty Images

Released first in their debut album and later as a single, Light My Fire was cut down from 7 minutes to under 3 minutes for the radio. The radio edit reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks. The full version is considered one of the band’s best songs and is a quintessential example of psychedelic rock.

85. Hey Ya! – Outkast

Year: 2003

Written By: André 3000

The Part Everyone Knows:

Shake it like a Polaroid picture!

Big Boi and Andre Benjamin of Outkast during The 1999 Source Hip-Hop Music Awards.
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images

Released as one of the two lead singles on Outkast’s album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, Hey Ya! was quickly acclaimed and is considered among the greatest songs of the 2000s. The song took André 3000 ages to complete. He started it in 2000 and only began recording in 2002, taking between 10-40 takes for each verse. Hey Ya! incorporates multiple genres from garage rock, new wave, soul, hip-hop, funk, and power pop to eighties electro.

84. All Along the Watchtower- Jimi Hendrix

Year: 1968

Written By: Bob Dylan

The Part Everyone Knows:

There must be some kind of way outta here

Jimi Hendrix performs on stage playing a white Fender Stratocaster guitar.
Photo by David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images

All Along the Watchtower was first written and recorded by Dylan in 1967, but just a few months later, Hendrix released his interpretation of the song on the album Electric Ladyland, and it took the world by storm. Jimi’s version became a Top 20 single. When asked about Hendrix’s cover, Dylan said, “It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent; he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them.”

83. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling- The Righteous Brothers

Year: 1964

Written By: Phil Spector, Barry Mann, and Cynthia Weil

The Part Everyone Knows:

You’re trying hard not to show it
But baby, baby, I know it
You lost that lovin’ feelin’
Whoa, that lovin’ feelin’

Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield are dancing in their matching white suits.
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Spector co-wrote and produced the first version of the song by The Righteous Brothers, which quickly reached number one on the charts in both the UK and the US. The song has since been recorded innumerable times. Cilla Black, Dionne Warwick, Roberta Flack, and Donny Hathaway recorded the most successful covers.

82. River Deep—Mountain High- Ike & Tina Turner

Year: 1966

Written By: Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich

The Part Everyone Knows:

And do I love you, my oh my
Yeah, river deep, mountain high…

Ike Turner and Tina Turner pose for a studio portrait.
Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images

Another Spector production, River Deep—Mountain High, was recorded by the Turners and is the title song of their 1966 album. Spector was a perfectionist, and it took many takes to satisfy him. Tina recalled, “I must have sung those 500,000 times. I was drenched with sweat. I had to take my shirt off and stand there in my bra to sing.”

81. Love Is All Around- Wet Wet Wet

Year: 1994

Written By: Reg Presley

The Part Everyone Knows:

I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my toes

Wet Wet Wet arrive in kilts to the
Photo by Fred Duval/FilmMagic/Getty Images

First recorded by the band The Troggs in 1967, Wet Wet Wet’s 1994 cover brought the song to no. 1 on the UK charts. The cover was recorded for the soundtrack of the film Four Weddings and a Funeral, and the band was really able to make the song their own. As of this year, it is the best-selling love ballad of all time in the US.

80. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For- U2

Year: 1987

Written By: U2, but mainly The Edge and Bono

The Part Everyone Knows:

I have climbed the highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you

U2 poses surrounded by high-rise buildings.
Photo by Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images

This song was the second single on U2’s album The Joshua Tree and their second song in a row to reach no.1 on the Billboard charts. The song was highly influenced by gospel music. Its lyrics are spiritual and inspired by Psalms from the Old Testament and by Charles Bukowski’s poetry.

79. No Woman No Cry- Bob Marley & The Wailers

Year: 1974

Written By: Vincent Ford and Bob Marley

The Part Everyone Knows:

Everything’s gonna be all right

Bob Marley performs live on stage with the Wailers
Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns/getty Images

The song’s refrain “no woman no cry” is often misunderstood outside of Jamaica; it doesn’t mean “if you have no woman, you won’t cry,” but rather, “woman don’t cry.” Bob Marley wrote the song, but he gave a songwriting credit to his friend Vincent Ford who ran a soup kitchen in Trenchtown. The royalties Ford gained ensured that he would be able to keep the soup kitchen up and running.

78. One Sweet Day- Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men

Year: 1995

Written By: Mariah Carey, Walter Afanasieff, Nathan Morris, Michael McCary, Shawn Stockman, and Wanya Morris

The Part Everyone Knows:

And I know you’re shining down on me from Heaven
Like so many friends we’ve lost along the way

Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men are in the recording studio.
Source: YouTube

The song One Sweet Day was co-written by Carey and Boyz II Men, about loved ones they all lost to the AIDS epidemic prevalent at the time. The song topped the Billboard charts for over four months, which was a record for 23 years.

77. Dreams- Fleetwood Mac

Year: 1977

Written By: Stevie Nicks

The Part Everyone Knows:

Thunder only happens when it’s raining
Players only love you when they’re playing

A posed group portrait of Fleetwood Mac.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The second single on their album Rumours, Dreams is Fleetwood Mac’s only chart-topping hit. Nicks wrote the song in about ten minutes, and the band was eager to record it, despite the emotional upheavals they were going through. Last year, Dreams regained popularity after a TikTok video by Nathan Apodaca went viral. Nathan’s clip has such good vibes that it singlehandedly made Fleetwood Mac, skateboarding, and Ocean Spray cranberry juice cool again.

76. Bridge Over Troubled Water- Simon & Garfunkel

Year: 1970

Written By: Paul Simon

The Part Everyone Knows:

I’m on your side; oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Art Garfunkel pushes Paul Simon in a cart down the street.
Photo by Columbia Records/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Bridge Over Troubled Water is the title song of their 1970 album and Simon & Garfunkel’s biggest hit. The song topped charts in the US and overseas and soon became one of the most performed songs of the century, garnering covers from the likes of Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley.

75. Dancing Queen- Abba

Year: 1976

Written By: Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, and Stig Anderson

The Part Everyone Knows:

You are the dancing queen
Young and sweet
Only seventeen
Dancing queen

Studio shot of the pop group ABBA.
Photo by Siegfried Pilz/United Archive/Getty Images

Dancing Queen was the Swedish band Abba’s only no. 1 hit in the US. It topped charts in Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, Mexico, New Zealand, Ireland, Norway, Spain, South Africa, Germany, and Rhodesia as well. The Europop disco song is Abba’s most famous hit to date, and the band admitted they knew it would be from the beginning.

74. She Loves You- The Beatles

Year: 1963

Written By: Lennon and McCartney

The Part Everyone Knows:

She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah

The Beatles are amusing themselves with a miniature car race track before a show.
Photo by Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

She Loves You was the song that made the Beatles stars in England and was their first single to be released in America. “Yeah, yeah, yeah” was the band’s signature phrase at first, and fans even dubbed them the Yeah Yeahs. When McCartney’s father first heard the song, he asked Paul, “Son, there are enough Americanisms around. Couldn’t you sing, ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ just for once?” Luckily, Paul didn’t take his dad’s advice.

73. Losing My Religion- R.E.M.

Year: 1991

Written By: Peter Buck, Michael Mills, William Berry, and Michael Stipe

The Part Everyone Knows:

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion

A portrait of R.E.M. sitssing backstage.
Photo by Paul Natkin/WireImage/Getty Images

Losing My Religion was an unlikely hit for R.E.M. It gained them a wider audience outside their original fanbase. The song reached peak popularity because of its award-winning music video that received ample screen time on MTV and VH1. Despite the title verse, R.E.M. revealed that it isn’t about religion, explaining that “losing my religion” means “feeling frustrated and desperate.”

72. You Light Up My Life- Debby Boone

Year: 1977

Written By: Joseph Brooks

The Part Everyone Knows:

‘Cause you light up my life
You give me hope to carry on

Debby Boone poses for a studio portrait.
Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images

Written by Joseph Brooks and originally recorded by Kasey Cisyk as the title song for the film You Light Up My Life, it was Debby Boone who made the song a hit. Boone revealed that she had no artistic freedom when recording and was asked to do precisely what Brooks told her. Nevertheless, the song became the biggest Billboard hit single of the ’70s.

71. Juicy- Notorious B.I.G.

Year: 1994

Written By: Christopher Wallace and James Mtume

The Part Everyone Knows:

It was all a dream; I used to read Word Up! Magazine
… And if you don’t know, now you know

The Notorious B.I.G. aka Biggie Smalls (Christopher Wallace) poses for a portrait.
Photo by Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Produced by Poke and Sean Combs (aka Puff Daddy), Biggie’s debut single, Juicy, is widely considered one of the best hip-hop songs ever recorded. The song chronicles The Notorious B.I.G.’s journey from rags to riches. Pete Rock produced the original demo and later claimed that P. Diddy stole the single’s beat from him.

70. Get Ur Freak On- Missy Elliott

Year: 2001

Written By: Missy Elliott and Timbaland

The Part Everyone Knows:

Missy be puttin’ it down
I’m the hottest ’round

Missy Elliott poses for a studio portrait.
Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images

Released on Missy Elliott’s third album Miss E… So Addictive, Get Your Freak On became one of the most acclaimed singles of the 2000s. Though it only reached number 7 on the Billboard chart, the song was remixed by Nelly Furtado and became a club banger. Pitchfork described it as, “bhangra-meets-jungle beat and 50s B-movie sci-fi synths, replacing the stagger-step trap breaks of drum’n’bass with a burbling table.”

69. Hotel California- Eagles

Year: 1977

Written By: Don Felder, Don Henley, and Glenn Frey (+ Joe Walsh)

The Part Everyone Knows:

This could be Heaven, or this could be Hell

The Eagles rest in a desert valley.
Photo by Henry Diltz/Corbis/Getty Images

The title song of their Grammy-winning album, Hotel California, is more than a hit; it’s an integral part of pop culture. The Eagles’ most well-known single, Hotel California, is about many things, including the LA high life, the American dream, the excess of American culture, and women. Don Henley described the song as a “journey from innocence to experience.”

68. My Generation- The Who

Year: 1965

Written By: Pete Townshend

The Part Everyone Knows:

I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

The Who poses for a studio portrait.
Photo by King Collection/Photoshot/Getty Images

My Generation is more of a rock and roll anthem. It became the voice of a generation, more than a hit single. When asked about it, Pete Townshend said, “My Generation was very much about trying to find a place in society. I was very, very lost. The band was young then. It was believed that its career would be incredibly brief.”

67. Happy- Pharrell Williams

Year: 2013

Written By: Pharrell Williams

The Part Everyone Knows:

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
(Because I’m happy)

Pharrell Williams attends the Academy Awards nominee luncheon in a very tall hat.
Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images

Though he wrote and produced Happy for the soundtrack of Despicable Me 2, Pharrell also released the song in his album G.I.R.L. It quickly reached no.1 on the charts, becoming the best-selling single of 2013. Before he wrote Happy, Williams pitched nine other songs to Despicable Me’s producer, who didn’t want any of them. Happy is also the first song to have a 24-hour music video.

66. Hallelujah- Leonard Cohen / Jeff Buckley

Year: 1967

Written By: Leonard Cohen

The Part Everyone Knows:

Well, I heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do ya?

Jeff Buckley sits on the sidewalk.
Photo by David Tonge/Getty Images

Hallelujah was written and recorded by Cohen in 1984. However, the song didn’t gain popularity through Cohen until after his death. Hallelujah was popularized due to covers by John Cale, Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, and more. Buckley’s version has been called “perfect” and was named the greatest song of all time by the International Observer.

65. Physical- Olivia Newton-John

Year: 1981

Written By: Steve Kipner and Terry Shaddick

The Part Everyone Knows:

Let’s get physical, physical
I wanna get physical

Olivia Newton-John in her Physical music video.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

When Kipner and Shaddick wrote Physical, they had intended a male vocalist to sing it. However, when the time came, they offered the song to Tina Turner instead; she didn’t want it and suggested Olivia Newton-John. It must have been fate because Newton-John brought the tune to no.1 in no time despite its highly sexual lyrics. Physical was later dubbed the biggest hit of the entire decade.

64. Purple Haze- Jimi Hendrix

Year: 1967

Written By: Jimi Hendrix

The Part Everyone Knows:

Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why
Excuse me while I kiss the sky

Jimi Hendrix is plucking the strings of his guitar with his teeth at his last concert.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Purple Haze is most memorable for Hendrix’s guitar playing and not for its lyrics. However, there has been much speculation regarding the song’s meaning, which most people took to be about LSD. Hendrix denied this and said Purple Haze is “about a dream I had that I was walking under the sea.” He also claimed it’s a love song about being in a daze.

63. Eye of the Tiger- Survivor

Year: 1982

Written By: Frankie Sullivan and Jim Peterik

The Part Everyone Knows:

It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight

Jim Peterik, Jimi Jamison, Stephen Pearcy of Ratt, Marc Droubay, and Stephan Ellis backstage.
Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns/Getty Images

The Grammy-winning song and chart-topping single Eye of the Tiger was actually written by Survivor as the theme song for the film Rocky III. Sullivan and Peterik based the lyrics on a line repeated by the boxing trainer throughout the film. Eye of the Tiger was well suited for the movie and went on to become a sports anthem in its own right.

62. What’d I Say, Parts 1 & 2 – Ray Charles

Year: 1959

Written By: Ray Charles

The Part Everyone Knows:

Oh, one more time (just one more time)
Say it one more time right now (just one more time) …

Ray Charles performs onstage.
Photo by Rita Barros/Getty Images

This improvised hit has two parts and was first played at a show after Ray and his accompanying musicians had already played all their other material. It is considered the first soul song, a new sub-genre of R&B mixed with gospel. When it came out, What’d I Say was deemed controversial and full of sexual innuendos.

61. Rivers of Babylon- Boney M

Year: 1978

Written By: Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton

The Part Everyone Knows:

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down
Yeah, we wept when we remembered Zion

Boney M poses for a group photo.
Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage/Getty Images

Rivers of Babylon is a Rastafari reggae song written by the band The Melodians in 1970. The song gained popularity after Boney M covered it in 1978, making it one of the UK’s top 10 best-selling singles of all time. The lyrics are based on Psalms from the Old Testament. The song is a protest against oppressive and unjust government systems.

60. Comfortably Numb- Pink Floyd

Year: 1979

Written By: David Gilmour and Roger Waters

The Part Everyone Knows:

There is no pain; you are receding… I have become comfortably numb

Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, Rick Wright pose in front of a light projection.
Photo by Andrew Whittuck/Redferns/Getty Images

Comfortably Numb is among Pink Floyd’s most well-known songs and came out on the band’s eleventh album, The Wall. Part of the album’s narrative, the song chronicles the experiences of a rock star named Pink, who is injected with medication by a doctor in order to be able to get on stage and perform. It’s based on a similar experience that Waters had.

59. Macarena- Los Del Rio

Year: 1993

Written By: Rafael Ruiz Perdigones, Antonio Romero Monge, and SWK

The Part Everyone Knows:

…Hey Macarena

Raphael Ruiz and Antonio Romero do the macarena with dancers.
Photo by Evan Agostini/Liaison/Getty Images

Though the song came out in 1993, it only became famous worldwide in 1996 when it began an iconic dance craze. The fact that the song is in Spanish made it possible for it to become a hit for the whole family. The words are actually pretty inappropriate and discuss a woman named Macarena who is cheating on her boyfriend with two of his friends while he was drafted into the military.

58. Runaway- Kanye West feat. Pusha T

Year: 2010

Written By: Kanye West, Emile Haynie, Jeff Bhasker, John Branch, Peter Phillips, Terrence Thornton, Mike Dean, and more

The Part Everyone Knows:

You been puttin’ up wit’ my s*** just way too long

Kanye West and Pusha T perform on stage.
Photo by NICK HUNT/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

Kanye’s song Runaway was written about the artist’s failed relationships and his acceptance of the media’s unflattering perception of him. It’s essentially a “toast to the douchebags” who criticize him. Despite being over nine minutes, the song reached no.12 on the Billboard charts. It’s also part of a short film of the same name.

57. I Will Always Love You- Whitney Houston

Year: 1992

Written By: Dolly Parton

The Part Everyone Knows:

And I will always love you
I will always love you

Whitney Houston stars in the film 'The Bodyguard.'
Photo by Fotos International/Getty Images

Written by Dolly Parton and released on her album Jolene, I Will Always Love You is a farewell song from the country singer to her mentor. It was Houston who made the song a chart-topping soul ballad when she recorded a version for her 1992 debut film, The Bodyguard. Despite rumors of a feud between them over the song, Whitney and Dolly have only ever spoken admiringly of each other.

56. Layla- Derek and the Dominos

Year: 1970

Written By: Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon

The Part Everyone Knows:

Layla, you’ve got me on my knees
Layla, I’m begging, darling please

Derek and the Dominoes pose with a dog.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hailed as one of the greatest rock songs of all time, Layla was first released on Derek & The Dominoes’ only album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. The legend has it that Clapton wrote Layla about his unrequited love for George Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd. Seven years after the song’s release, Boyd left Harrison, and she and Clapton got married in 1979, with Harrison’s blessing.

55. Uptown Funk! – Mark Ronson Featuring Bruno Mars

Year: 2014

Written By: Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, Jeff Bhasker, Nicholas Williams, Charles Wilson, Lonnie Simmons, and more

The Part Everyone Knows:

This hit, that ice cold
Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold

Bruno Mars in the Uptown Funk! Music video.
Source: YouTube

Uptown Funk! was released as a single from Mark Ronson’s album Uptown Special, and it topped the Billboard chart for 14 weeks, becoming both Mars and Ronson’s most successful song. The song crosses genres and is a mash of funk, soul, boogie, disco, pop, new wave, and synth-pop, making it the perfect hit to dance to.

54. Relax- Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Year: 1983

Written By: Peter Gill, Holly Johnson, Brian Nash, and Mark O’Toole

The Part Everyone Knows:

Relax, don’t do it
When you want to go to it

Paul Rutherford, Mark O'Toole, Brian Nash, Peter Gill, Holly Johnson pose backstage.
Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images

Relax took a while to reach the top of the charts in both England and the United States. The song was regarded as overly sexual and banned on BBC radio, but it became one of the top ten best-selling records ever. The overtly gay lyrics and music video made Relax into one of the most controversial hits of the ’80s.

53. Iris- Goo Goo Dolls

Year: 1998

Written By: Johnny Rzeznik

The Part Everyone Knows:

And I don’t want the world to see me
‘Cause I don’t think that they’d understand…

The Goo Goo Dolls pose backstage.
Photo by Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Considered the Goo Goo Dolls signature song, Iris was originally written for the soundtrack of the movie City of Angels and released on their album Dizzy Up the Girl. A crossover hit that jumped from modern rock, pop, and adult contemporary, Iris is a critically acclaimed chart-topping ballad. Iris has a place among the most iconic rock anthems of its generation.

52. One- Metallica


Written By: James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich

The Part Everyone Knows:

Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh, please God, wake me

Metallica poses in their hotel room.
Photo by Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images

One is the first Metallica song to hit the US charts and the first song they made a music video for. It is an anti-war anthem about an injured soldier from WWI who just wants his suffering to end. One was the first Metal song to win a Grammy and is among Metallica’s most popular songs because of its acclaimed guitar solo.

51. Superstition- Stevie Wonder

Year: 1972

Written By: Stevie Wonder

The Part Everyone Knows:

When you believe in things
That you don’t understand
Then you suffer

Stevie Wonder poses for a studio portrait.
Photo by Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images

Superstition won two Grammys and held no. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the soul charts. The lead single in Wonder’s album Talking Book, Superstition, represents the beginning of a new era of popular Black music, in which soul and funk reigned. Stevie originally wrote the song intending to let Jeff Beck record it, but Beck was delayed, so Stevie’s version came out first.

50. London Calling- The Clash

Year: 1979

Written By: Joe Strummer and Mick Jones

The Part Everyone Knows:

Cause London is drownin’, I, live by the river

The Clash pose for a photo in a shipyard.
Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images

Although not the highest-charting song by the Clash (that honor goes to Should I Stay or Should I Go), London Calling is considered, in retrospect, the band’s best work. It is an angry and inspiring antiwar anthem and showcases their post-punk sound. The title verse refers to the BBC World Service’s introduction: “This is London calling …”, which they used in broadcasts during World War II.

49. Every Breath You Take- The Police

Year: 1983

Written By: Sting

The Part Everyone Knows:

Every breath you take
And every move you make…

Stewart Copeland, Sting, Andy Summers pose under a tree.
Photo by John Rodgers/Redferns/Getty Images

Every Breath You Take is one of the most misunderstood songs in history, a mistake that put the song at the top of the charts and made it the best-selling single of 1983. Perceived as a love song, it actually has a more sinister meaning. Sting himself called it “a nasty little song” meant to allude to surveillance, control, and feelings of ownership in unhealthy relationships. His divorce inspired it.

48. You’re the One That I Want- John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John

Year: 1978

Written By: John Farrar

The Part Everyone Knows:

You better shape up, ’cause I need a man
And my heart is set on you

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta as they appear in the film 'Grease.'
Photo by Paramount Pictures/Fotos International/Getty Images

Recorded for the soundtrack of Grease, You’re the One That I Want, soon shot to no. 1 and became one of the best-selling singles in history. The song was written by Farrar specifically for the movie and for Olivia Newton-John and hadn’t appeared in the stage production of Grease. The film’s director disliked it and felt it didn’t fit the rest of the soundtrack.

47. Daydream Believer- The Monkees

Year: 1967

Written By: John Stewart

The Part Everyone Knows:

Cheer up, sleepy Jean
Oh, what can it mean
To a daydream believer
And a homecoming queen

The Monkees sit in personalized chairs.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Daydream Believer was the Monkee’s last no.1 hit and was written by John Stewart of the Kingston Trio. The record company actually insisted on changing the word “funky” with “happy” in the verse, “Now you know how happy I can be,” to Stewart’s dismay. But he eventually agreed to it, knowing Daydream Believer would be a hit, and happily lived off the royalties.

46. Love Will Tear Us Apart- Joy Division

Year: 1978

Written By: Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Peter Hook & Ian Curtis

The Part Everyone Knows:

Then, love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear us apart again

Joy Division pose in a group shot.
Source: Flickr

Love Will Tear Us Apart was Joy Division’s first single to reach the charts and reached no.1 in the UK. Written about the lead singer Ian Curtis’s struggles with depression and the issues in his marriage, the song was released one month after he committed suicide. It has been hailed among the most significant singles of all time.

45. Party Rock Anthem- LMFAO: Lauren Bennett & GoonRock

Year: 2011

Written By: David Listenbee, Stefan Gordy, Skyler Gordy, and Peter Schroeder

The Part Everyone Knows:

Party rockers in the house tonight
Everybody just have a good time

Redfoo and SkyBlu from the group
Photo by Steven Lawton/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Party Rock Anthem is ranked as the 6th most successful song of all time according to the Billboard Top 100. Recorded by the group LMFAO, it’s the second single on the album Sorry for Party Rocking. The song’s award-winning music video popularized the Melbourne shuffle dance style. It was the no.1 single of 2011 and no.2 single of the 2010s.

44. Billie Jean- Michael Jackson

Year: 1982

Written By: Michael Jackson

The Part Everyone Knows:

Billie Jean is not my lover
She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son, hoo!

Michael Jackson performs in concert.
Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

The second single from Michael’s album Thriller, Billie Jean, reached no.1 on the Billboard Top 100 in no time. The song went on to become one of the best-selling singles, and Thriller is the number one best-selling album in history. Jackson’s performance of Billie jean introduced his signature white sequined glove and the moonwalk.

43. Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones

Year: 1969

Written By: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

The Part Everyone Knows:

It’s just a shot away X2

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The opening song of Let It Bleed, Gimme Shelter, has often been called the Rolling Stones’ greatest work. Though it became an antiwar anthem, the inspiration for the song was less serious. Richards shared, “I had been sitting by the window… when suddenly the sky went completely black, and an incredible monsoon came down. It was just people running about looking for shelter – that was the germ of the idea.”

42. Mull of Kintyre – Wings

Year: 1977

Written By: Paul McCartney and Denny Laine

The Part Everyone Knows:

Mull of Kintyre
Oh, mist rolling in from the sea
My desire is always to be here
Oh, Mull of Kintyre

Joe English, Linda McCartney, Paul McCartney, Denny Laine, Jimmy McCulloch pose on stage.
Photo by RB/Redferns/Getty Images

The single Girl’s School and its B-side Mull of Kintyre were Wings’ biggest hits in the UK and among the best-selling singles in UK history. The B-side became the 1977 no.1 Christmas hit and sold over 2 million copies worldwide. The song is about McCartney’s love for the area of Scotland where he had been living.

41. How Do I Live- LeAnn Rimes

Year: 1997

Written By: Dianne Warren

The Part Everyone Knows:

How do I live without you? I want to know
How do I breathe without you if you ever go?

LeAnn Rimes waves at fans as she walks on stage.
Photo by Josh Brasted/FilmMagic

Written by Dianne Warren for LeAnn Rimes to record for the Con Air soundtrack, the film’s producers eventually hired Trisha Yearwood to record the movie song instead. LeAnn went ahead and released her version anyway, which peaked at no.2 on the charts. Her performance holds various Hot 100 records and is no.4 on Billboard’s All-Time list.

40. Beat It – Michael Jackson

Year: 1982

Written By: Michael Jackson

The Part Everyone Knows:

It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right
Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated

Michael Jackson performs on stage.
Photo by Phil Dent/Redferns/Getty Images

The only rock-esque song on the album Thriller, Beat It includes a guitar solo played by Eddie Van Halen. The song peaked at no.1 on the charts and became one of the best-selling singles in US history. Both the song Beat It, and the music video significantly impacted the future of music and pop culture.

39. Heroes- David Bowie

Year: 1977

Written By: David Bowie and Brian Eno

The Part Everyone Knows:

We can be Heroes, just for one day

David Bowie is performing on stage.
Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns/Getty Images

Bowie’s song Heroes is so good that it was a catalyst to the fall of the Berlin Wall. He performed the song in June 1987 at the Reichstag in West Berlin and was later thanked by the German government for “helping to bring down the Wall.” The single never topped charts, but as time went by, Heroes became widely regarded as one of the best songs ever recorded.

38. God Only Knows- The Beach Boys

Year: 1966

Written By: Brian Wilson and Tony Asher

The Part Everyone Knows:

God only knows what I’d be without you

The Beach Boys walk along the beach holding a surfboard.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

God Only Knows was released on the Beach Boys album Pet Sounds. It’s often been praised as the band’s finest, most sophisticated work. The song was an unlikely success; using the word God in a pop song and in the title no less was considered taboo at the time. The song features Carl Wilson’s best vocal performance, joined by twenty session musicians on various instruments.

37. Be My Baby- The Ronettes

Year: 1963

Written By: Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry, and Phil Spector

The Part Everyone Knows:

So won’t you, please
(Be my, be my baby)
Be my little baby?

Estelle Bennett Vann, Ronnie Spector, Nedra Talley Ross pose outside a hotel.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Be My Baby was the first song ever produced by the talented Phil Spector on his label, Philles Records. Despite the song being by the Ronettes, the only Ronette in the recording is Ronnie (who later married Phil Spector), on lead vocals. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys named Be My Baby the greatest pop song ever made.

36. My Girl- The Temptations

Year: 1964

Written By: Ronald White and Smokey Robinson

The Part Everyone Knows:

I guess you’d say
What can make me feel this way

The Temptations pose for a studio shoot.
Photo by Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images

Arguably the biggest hit to come out of Motown, My Girl was the Temptations’ first no.1 single in the US. Smokey Robinson wrote the song about his wife Claudette Rogers of the Miracles. Robinson had the Temptations’ newest member David Ruffin sing the lead because he thought that Ruffin’s rough, mellow voice mixed with the melodic and sweet lyrics and music would make a smash hit.

35. Dancing on My Own- Robyn

Year: 2010

Written By: Robyn and Patrik Berger

The Part Everyone Knows:

I’m in the corner, watching you kiss her
I’m right over here; why can’t you see me?

Robyn performs onstage during the Governors Ball Music Festival.
Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Dancing on My Own is considered by some as the best song of 2010 and even the best song of its decade. It is the ultimate sad club banger and has become a gay anthem. Robyn was inspired to write this robotic synth-pop masterpiece by her fascination with club culture and her favorite club anthems, rock ballads, and queer electronica.

34. Waterloo Sunset- The Kinks

Year: 1967

Written By: Ray Davies

The Part Everyone Knows:

Every day I look at the world from my window
But chilly, chilly is the evening time
Waterloo sunset’s fine

Pete Quaife, Mick Avory, Ray Davies, and Dave Davies have fun while rehearsing.
Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images

The Kinks originally called the song Liverpool Sunset but changed it to Waterloo Sunset after the Beatles released Penny Lane. Waterloo Sunset peaked at no.2 on the British charts, becoming the Kinks biggest UK hit. To achieve the unique guitar sound on this divine masterwork, they used tape-delay echo, a technique that had been popular in the 1950s.

33. Sweet Child O’Mine- Guns N’ Roses

Year: 1987

Written By: Axl Rose, Slash, Steven Adler, Duff McKagan, and Izzy Stradlin

The Part Everyone Knows:

She’s got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky

Guns N' Roses pose backstage.
Photo by Paul Natkin/WireImage/Getty Images

Sweet Child O’ Mine is GNR’s biggest hit ever and their only single to top the US charts. Axl wrote the lyrics about his girlfriend, Erin Everly. The song holds one of the most excellent guitar solos in history, extraordinarily recorded in one take.

32. Good Vibrations- The Beach Boys

Year: 1966

Written By: Brian Wilson and Mike Love

The Part Everyone Knows:

I’m pickin’ up good vibrations
She’s giving me excitations

Brian Wilson directs from the control room while recording the album
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

When Brian was a kid, his mom told him that dogs could pick up “vibrations” from humans. This inspired Wilson to write a song about people picking up vibrations, and Love added the “Good,” making it a hit. Good Vibrations was a chart-topping success and the most expensive single ever made, using over 90 hours of tape. Like the rest of Pet Sounds, it features numerous session musicians.

31. Seven Nation Army- The White Stripes

Year: 2003

Written By: Jack White

The Part Everyone Knows:

How to play the opening riff…

The White Stripes pose for a studio portrait.
Photo by Gie Knaeps/Getty Images

This song opens with, no doubt, the most famous guitar riff of the 21st century so far; though it sounds like a bass, it is actually a guitar with a pitch shift effect. Jack White admitted that the song started with just the opening hook, and he later wrote lyrics, which turned it into a sports anthem. The name Seven Nation Army was what White used to call the Salvation Army as a kid.

30. Johnny B. Goode- Chuck Berry

Year: 1958

Written By: Chuck Berry

The Part Everyone Knows:

Go Johnny go, go

Chuck Berry performs his
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Considered the first rock and roll song about becoming a rockstar, Johnny B. Goode reached the top ten on both the Hot 100 and the Hot R&B charts. The song is loosely based on Berry’s life and spins the tale of a “country boy” who can’t really read but plays the guitar extremely well. Originally the words “country boy” were “colored boy,” but Berry changed them to ensure the song would be played on the radio.

29. Walk on the Wild Side- Lou Reed

Year: 1972

Written By: Lou Reed

The Part Everyone Knows:

She says, “Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side”

Lou Reed poses in a leather chair.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Walk on the Wild Side was released on Reed’s album Transformer and as the B-side of Perfect Day. This groundbreaking and controversial hit tells the story of some of New York’s most famous characters. Despite being about prostitution, oral sex, transgender women, and drug dealers, the song became a worldwide success. Although most stations played the uncensored version, the words “colored girls” were cut out for the radio.

28. Hey Jude- The Beatles

Year: 1968

Written By: Lennon and McCartney

The Part Everyone Knows:

Naa na na na na na na, na na na na, hey Jude

The Beatles are having a meal at a restaurant.
Photo by Roger Viollet Collection/Getty Images

Hey, Jude was the longest single of its time (over 7 minutes long) to top the UK charts and the best-performing single by the Beatles in US history. It was initially titled Hey Jules, and McCartney wrote the lyrics as a gesture of comfort towards Julian, John’s son, who was going through a hard time after John left Julian’s mother, Cynthia, for Yoko.

27. When Doves Cry- Prince and the Revolution

Year: 1984

Written By: Prince

The Part Everyone Knows:

How can you just leave me standing
Alone in a world that’s so cold?

Prince performs in concert.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

When Doves Cry was Prince’s first chart-topper and quickly became a hit worldwide. Today it is revered as one of the greatest and most influential songs ever recorded and one of the artist’s most defining trademark hits. Unlike most ’80s tunes, When Doves Cry doesn’t feature a bass guitar part which creates a feeling that something is missing, making the song unique.

26. Born to Run- Bruce Springsteen

Year: 1975

Written By: Bruce Springsteen

The Part Everyone Knows:

‘Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run

Bruce Springsteen relaxes backstage.
Photo by Mark and Colleen Hayward/Getty Images

The title song of Springsteen’s album, Born to Run, was the musician’s first hit to reach the top 40. It’s widely considered to be a song that helped shape rock and roll as it is today. When asked about the album, the Boss said, “I wanted to make the greatest rock record I’d ever heard.” Born to Run is now Springsteen’s signature song and among the greatest rock anthems ever.

25. I Gotta Feeling- The Black Eyed Peas

Year: 2009

Written By: Taboo, Fergie,,, Frédéric Riesterer, and David Guetta

The Part Everyone Knows:

I got a feeling
That tonight’s gonna be a good night

The Black Eyed Peas before they go on stage.
Photo by Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images

I Gotta Feeling was the second single off the group’s album The E.N.D. and reached no.1 on the charts of 20 different countries, including the US. The song won a Grammy and was the first single to sell over seven million digital copies. A feel-good, dance-pop hit, I Gotta Feeling was “dedicated to all the party people out there in the world…”

24. Strawberry Fields Forever- The Beatles

Year: 1967

Written By: John Lennon

The Part Everyone Knows:

Strawberry Fields forever

Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney sit in a theater watching a screening.
Photo by Mark and Colleen Hayward/Getty Images

The song wasn’t objectively successful upon its release and received mixed reception. However, it later proved to be very influential and inspired the emergence of the psychedelic rock genre. The song’s promotional video also had a similar impact on the future of music videos. John Lennon thought that Strawberry Fields was the Beatles’ best work, and after his death, an area in Central Park in New York City was named after the song in his honor.

23. September- Earth, Wind & Fire

Year: 1978

Written By: Allee Willis, Al McKay, and Maurice White

The Part Everyone Knows:

Ba-dee-ya, say, do you remember?
Ba-dee-ya, dancin’ in September

Ralph Johnson, Maurice White, and Philip Bailey pose backstage.
Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images

Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1978 single reached no.8 on the Hot 100 and no.1 on the R&B charts. Considered an integral part of the band’s work, the song was among their biggest commercial successes and even garnered a Christmas version, called December. The 21st of September, mentioned in the song’s first verse, was officially dubbed Earth, Wind, & Fire by the City of LA.

22. Mack the Knife- Bobby Darin

Year: 1959

Written By: Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht (translated by Marc Blitzstein)

The Part Everyone Knows:

And someone’s sneaking ’round the corner
Could that someone be Mack the Knife?

A portrait of Bobby Darin.
Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Written in 1928 by Brecht and Weill for the musical The Truepenny Opera, Mack the Knife was covered many times but truly gained acclaim for Bobby Darin’s version, a cover of Louis Armstrong’s version. In opposition to the song’s upbeat sound, it’s actually about a murderous rapist character from the play. Darin brought it to no.1 and won a Grammy.

21. One- U2

Year: 1991

Written By: Larry Mullen Jr, Adam Clayton, The Edge, and Bono

The Part Everyone Knows:

You say, one love, one life…

A studio portrait of Adam Clayton, The Edge, Bono, and Larry Mullen, Jr.
Photo by Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images

Just as U2’s success was beginning to wane, they stumbled upon a hit in the midst of some tension-filled jam sessions. One became a very powerful song and was released as a benefit single, with the proceeds going to AIDS research. One has since been used by the band to promote all their social justice causes, even lending its name to Bono’s charity.

20. A Change Is Gonna Come- Sam Cooke

Year: 1964

Written By: Sam Cooke

The Part Everyone Knows:

I was born by the river…

Sam Cooke records in the RCA Studios
Photo by Jess Rand/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Among the most famous songs of the Civil Rights movement, A Change Is Gonna Come was inspired by Bob Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind. Eager to write a Civil Rights song himself, Cooke documented his struggles living in America as a Black man. The song was released two weeks after he was shot to death. It received moderate ratings when it came out but was later revered as Cooke’s most influential work.

19. Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid

Year: 1984

Written By: Bob Geldof and Midge Ure

The Part Everyone Knows:

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

A large group photo of the various artists that recorded Do They Know It's Christmas?
Photo by Steve Hurrell/Redferns/Getty Images

Written in 1984 to raise money to help the famine in Ethiopia, Do They Know It’s Christmas? was recorded by the all-star band Band Aid, which included Sting, Bono, Boy George, George Micheal, Phil Collins, and more. It became a no.1 hit and one of the best-selling singles in the UK. The lyrics about Africa are considered controversial and outdated, as they display a very privileged, ignorant Western outlook.

18. What’s Going On- Marvin Gaye

Year: 1971

Written By: Marvin Gaye, Renaldo Benson, and Al Cleveland

The Part Everyone Knows:

Oh, what’s going on
Yeah, what’s going on

Marvin Gaye plays piano as he records in a studio.
Photo by Jim Britt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

What’s Going On was inspired by an incident of authoritarian brutality witnessed by Benson during an antiwar protest and is a plea for peace on earth. It was Marvin Gaye’s first song to depart from the traditional Motown sound that he’d stuck to previously and was a very personal song for the star. The song topped the soul charts and peaked at no.2 on the Hot 100.

17. A Day in the Life- The Beatles

Year: 1967

Written By: Lennon and McCartney

The Part Everyone Knows:

I read the news today—oh, boy

The Beatles are recording with a 40 piece orchestra.
Source: Facebook

Regarded as the Beatles’ most ambitious and influential achievement, A Day in the Life was recorded with a 40-person orchestra wearing tuxedos and funny hats. The song was inspired by the news, particularly by the death of Tara Browne, the Guinness heiress. It is considered a monumental historical event in the history of popular music and is more than a masterpiece. It’s the most important song of the most important band.

16. Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang- Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg

Year: 1992

Written By: Dr. Dre., Snoop Dogg, and The D.O.C.

The Part Everyone Knows:

It’s like this and like that and like this and a—

Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre during 1993 MTV Movie Awards.
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang is the second collaboration between Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre and was released as the first single on Dre’s seminal debut album, The Chronic. The song is hailed among the best hip-hop songs in history. It reached no.2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 while topping the hip-hop, rap, and R&B charts and entering the UK’s top 40.

15. Smooth- Santana Featuring Rob Thomas

Year: 1999

Written By: Itaal Shur and Rob Thomas

The Part Everyone Knows:

Gimme your heart, make it real, or else forget about it

Santana and Rob Thomas performing live at the Grammy Awards
Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect/Getty Images

Smooth is a collaboration between Matchbox 20’s lead singer Rob Thomas and the band, Santana. Released at the end of 1999, the song was the final no.1 hit of the ’90s and the first no.1 hit of the noughties. Smooth won three Grammy awards, including Song of the Year, and is regarded as the second most successful song of all time, according to Billboard.

14. Fight the Power- Public Enemy

Year: 1989

Written By: Chuck D, Hank Shocklee, Eric Sadler, and Keith Shocklee

The Part Everyone Knows:

Fight the power!
We’ve got to fight the powers that be

Public Enemy members pose for a portrait.
Photo by Lisa Haun Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

First written as the theme for Spike Lee’s film Do the Right Thing, Fight the Power is Public Enemy’s best-known song. The song reached no.1 on the rap charts and is often regarded as the greatest song ever. Fight the Power incorporates many examples of Black culture, including James Brown’s music, Branford Marsalis on the saxophone, and church and Civil Rights speeches.

13. Stairway to Heaven- Led Zeppelin

Year: 1971

Written By: Robert Plant and Jimmy Page

The Part Everyone Knows:

There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to Heaven

Led Zeppelin is standing outside by a car.
Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images

Considered by basically everyone as one of the most iconic rock songs ever, Stairway to Heaven is Led Zeppelin’s most famous work. Despite never being released officially as a single in the US, it was the most requested song on FM radio stations in the 1970s in America. It’s also the best-selling piece of sheet music in rock history.

12. Royals- Lorde

Year: 2012/3

Written By: Lorde and Joel Little

The Part Everyone Knows:

And we’ll never be royals
It don’t run in our blood

Lorde is standing in a hallway.
Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

Royals was the New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde’s debut single from her self-released EP, The Love Club. A critique of the lux culture associated with rock and hip-hop stardom, it’s been hailed for its maturity, considering that Lorde was a teenager when the song came out. After hitting no.1 on the charts, Royals dominated the end of the year and end of the decade lists alike.

11. Candle in The Wind 1997- Elton John

Year: 1997

Written By: Elton John and Bernie Taupin

The Part Everyone Knows:

Your candle’s burned out long before
Your legend ever will

Sir Elton John sings 'Candle in the Wind' at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.
Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Image

Candle in The Wind 1997 is a rewritten version of Elton John’s 1973 song about Marilyn Monroe. The ’97 version is a tribute song about Princess Diana’s death and is sometimes called Goodbye England’s Rose. The song quickly became a no.1 single in the UK and US, as well as the best-selling single in the UK and, later, the world. All the proceeds went to Diana’s charities.

10. The Twist- Chubby Checker

Year: 1960

Written By: Hank Ballard

The Part Everyone Knows:

Oooh-yeah, just like this
Come on, little miss, and do the twist

Chubby Checker leads Conway Twitty and Dick Clar through the dance the Twist.
Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images

Released in 1959 by Ballard, Checker performed The Twist for Dick Clark’s American Bandstand after Ballard turned the show host down. The song incited a dance craze, and soon Checker’s recording hit no.1 on the US charts. The Twist is credited with helping rock and roll gain popularity among adults and propelling the genre into the mainstream. The song inspired various sequels, covers, and other dance-move-inspired hits.

9. Purple Rain – Prince and the Revolution

Year: 1984

Written By: Purple Rain

The Part Everyone Knows:

I only want to see you
Laughing in the purple rain

Prince performs live at the Fabulous Forum.
Photo by Michael Montfort/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The title song of Prince’s 1984 album, Purple Rain, is also the name of the 1984 musical film starring Prince. The song hit no.2 on the charts and held the spot for a long time, later being deemed the greatest piece of the 1980s. Prince supposedly thought the song was similar to the Journey song Faithfully and played it for Jonathan Cain to make sure he was all right with it.

8. Crazy in Love- Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z

Year: 2003

Written By: Jay-Z, Eugene Record, Rich Harrison, and Beyoncé Knowles

The Part Everyone Knows:

Got me looking so crazy right now
Your love’s got me looking so crazy right now

Jay-Z and Beyonce Knowles perform at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo by John Shearer/WireImage/Getty Images

Crazy Right Now was Beyoncé’s first single on her first album, Dangerously in Love. The song features a rap part by her then-boyfriend (now husband) Jay-Z. It reached unprecedented success, peaking at no.1 in the UK and the US. The song has been revered as the top song of the 2000s and won two Grammys in 2004.

7. (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay- Otis Redding

Year: 1968

Written By: Otis Redding and Steve Cropper

The Part Everyone Knows:

Ooo, I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

A portrait of Otis Redding.
Photo by Cyrus Andrews/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The final overdubs of Dock of the Bay were recorded by Otis three days before he died in a plane crash. The song was released after he passed away and became the first single to hit no.1 posthumously. Cropper later shared, “If you listen to the songs I collaborated with Otis, most of the lyrics are about him… Dock of the Bay was exactly that.”

6. Respect- Aretha Franklin

Year: 1967

Written By: Otis

The Part Everyone Knows:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me

Aretha Franklin performs onstage.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Originally an Otis Redding song, Aretha Franklin’s Respect was rewritten to be about a woman demanding respect from her man. Unsurprisingly, it went on to become an anthem of female empowerment, as well as Aretha’s signature number. Respect gained Franklin two Grammys in 1968 and topped the Black singles charts and the pop charts. Nowadays, the song appears in many films and shows and is often sampled in other songs.

5. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction- The Rolling Stones

Year: 1965

Written By: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

The Part Everyone Knows:

I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try, and I try, and I try, and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no

A portrait of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, and Brian Jones.
Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images

About frustrated lust (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction features one of the best opening guitar riffs of all time, played by Keith Richards. Despite its sexually suggestive lyrics, Satisfaction became the Rolling Stones’ first no.1 hit in the US and helped propel the band to the worldwide fame they enjoy today.

4. Like a Rolling Stone- Bob Dylan

Year: 1965

Written By: Bob Dylan

The Part Everyone Knows:

How does it feel?
To be without a home?
Like a complete unknown?
Like a rolling stone?

Bob Dylan plays piano with a harmonica around his neck.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Considered one of the best songs ever written, Like a Rolling Stone was named the #1 song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine numerous times. Rolling Stone wrote, “No other pop song has so thoroughly challenged and transformed the commercial laws and artistic conventions of its time.” Upon its release, the six-minute song peaked at no.2, surpassed only by the Beatles’ Help!

3. Bohemian Rhapsody- Queen

Year: 1975

Written By: Freddie Mercury

The Part Everyone Knows:

I see a little silhouetto of a man
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?
Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening me
Galileo, Galileo, Galileo Figaro magnifico

Roger Taylor, John Deacon, Freddie Mercury, and Brian May pose on stage.
Photo by John Rodgers/Redferns/Getty Images

Released as the first single from Queen’s album Night at the Opera, Bohemian Rhapsody quickly became a worldwide hit, peaking at no.1 in five different countries. After appearing in the 1992 film Wayne’s World, in one of the most memorable and imitated scenes ever, the song re-entered the US charts at no.2.

2. Smells Like Teen Spirit- Nirvana

Year: 1991

Written By: Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl

The Part Everyone Knows:

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us

Dave Grohl, Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic stand in a public restroom.
Photo by Paul Bergen/Redferns/Getty Images

The lead single in Nirvana’s seminal album Nevermind, Smells Like Teen Spirit, is credited with bringing grunge into the mainstream. Considered one of the greatest songs ever, the title was taken from the words “Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit,” that Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill) wrote on Kurt’s wall. She was referring to the deodorant brand, but he understood it as revolutionary philosophical poetry.

1. Imagine – John Lennon

Year: 1971

Written By: John Lennon and Yoko Ono

The Part Everyone Knows:

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one

John Lennon and Yoko Ono pose together.
Photo by Susan Wood/Getty Images

Imagine is the title song of John Lennon’s 1971 album and the most successful work of his solo career. The song is praised as an inspirational antiwar anthem and was inspired by Yoko Ono’s poetry. It is among the most performed songs of the 20th century. Imagine peaked at no.6 in the UK upon its release but reached no.1 in 1980 after Lennon’s assassination.

How We Chose the Songs

We chose the songs by cross-referencing various Best of lists and charts and giving songs scores depending on their place on each list. We compared the Billboard Hot 100 Top Songs of All Time, Rolling Stones’ 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and other prominent Top 10, Top 40, and Top 50 lists.

Rolling Stones' 500 Greatest Songs of All Time cover art.
Source: Wikimedia

Then we cross-referenced our findings with the best-selling hits in history. Of course, we also considered certain songs that may not have been commercially successful upon their release but nevertheless significantly impacted the history of music.