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- Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen. Bohemian Rhapsody is Freddie Mercury at his best. This song as most popular songs has a lot of meaning to it, and a good twist of 70’s Rock and opera-style singing.
- Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin. Stairway to Heaven was the most famous rock song in the 1970s. No one has equalled Led Zeppelin’s accomplishment with this marriage of hard rock and a sort of corny medievalism.
- You Raise Me Up – Josh Groban. It is rare to find a song that really moves you in the way that this song does. These are a truly inspirational set of lyrics that are so powerfully sung by Josh Groban.
- One – Metallica. “One” is a song by the American heavy metal band Metallica. It was released as the third and final single from their fourth album …And Justice for All.
- The Beatles – Hey Jude
- The Eagles – Hotel California
- Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb
- John Lennon – Imagine
- Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
- Metallica – One
- Bob Dylan – Like A Rolling Stone
- Bing Crosby – White Christmas
- Led Zepplin – Stairway to Heaven
- Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
Harking from what many consider to be the golden era of modern music, this Beatles hit originally started out as a song of consolation for John Lennon’s son Julian (who was facing the divorce of his parents) by Paul McCartney. This song had the honor of being the longest of not only any Beatles song, but the longest to make it to the top of the British Charts, and also carried a long standing record as tied for the longest run hit on U.S. Charts. As a result, it has made it to number 10 on this list, and in 2013 had also made it on as Billboard’s Top 10 of all time in the same position.
Holding the title of the song with the single best guitar solo ever (according to both the BBC and Guitarist Magazine) this Grammy winning song has some of it’s popularity as a result of the mystery surrounding the lyrics. Is it about satanic ritual? What about the consequences of drug use? Well, according to Don Henley, neither of those are quite true. Instead, the song is about the journey from innocence to experience in the Los Angeles high life. Being the number one song from the band, Hotel California makes it to number 9 on this list.
Another wonderfully guitar heavy song to make the list is the psychedelic, progressive rock song Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd. As with most of the rest of the album the song is featured on (The Wall) this song revolves around a rock star by the name of Pink, as he compares his current condition of complete apathy to the feverish illness he had once suffered as a child. However, unlike most of the rest of the album, David Gilmour wrote Comfortably Numb, where Roger Waters had done most of the rest of the writing for the band.
Any list missing John Lennon’s Imagine would be considered one lacking a song that typified many ideals of the 60’s and 70’s. With a plea for the audience to consider life without the barriers to considering others humanity over their affiliations to religion, nationality, or anything else, this was easily the most popular song made by John Lennon in his solo career. Sadly, soon after the release of this song, John Lennon was murdered, which contributed to the radio popularity of the song for quite some time. BMI has rated it as among the most performed songs in the 20th century, and RIAA has rated it number 30 in the 365 songs of the century.
In a slight twist of irony, Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit was actually an homage to a band that didn’t quite make this top ten list – The Pixies. This song in particular originated in a fit of imagination mere weeks before the start of recording of Nevermind. After an initial (and somewhat predictable) fight over the potential “ridiculousness” of the song between bandmates and a 90 minute riff session, soon the music was slowed slightly, and the lyrics thought up. As quickly as it was written it would later be deemed a commercial and critical success, helping cement the band into rock and roll fame forevermore.
Coming from who many consider to be the best Metal band of all time, One was an incredibly popular song for the genre, and also for an anti-war song. Making it big across the U.S., U.K. and European charts, this song can also credit some of its success with the public to the particularly powerful music video, showing an injured solider, unable to communicate, coming home. As an interesting aside, the success of this song allowed the band to buy the rights to the movie Johnny Got His Gun, which is used throughout the music video.
As odd as it sounds, Like A Rolling Stone nearly never made it as a song. First being considered “vomit” by Dylan himself as a way of reconciling a tough tour in England, it was later listed as a “destined flop” by record executives and stores. However, to the surprise of all, this song would end up being the most successful of Dylans releases. While never reaching number one status on the charts, it has remained a stable and constant representation of the era in which it was made.
Somewhat appropriate for the season, Bing Crosby’s White Christmas takes the third spot on this countdown. With over 44 million copies of the album by the same name sold, this marks the first secular Christmas song to commercially achieve greatness. In fact, it is amusing to note that the original master copy of the record had to be used so much in the mid to late forties, that a re-recording with the same orchestra had to take place to allow for the creation of more copies of the disc. Ever since its release, it has become an integral part of the holiday season, now for over half a century.
The Second most popular song on this list, Stairway to Heaven is also the most controversial on this list. Written, like several others on this list by a sudden inspiration to the writer, Robert Plant. Soon after completion of the lyrics, the guitar pieces would be completed by both Page and Plant, who had just returned from a trip into the Welsh countryside. After release, it would quickly rise to fame as one of the best rock songs of all time. Unfortunately, it would also start a lawsuit from another band, Sprit, who claimed copyright infringement due to distinct similarities in riff. The lawsuit, which had finally subsided in 2016, found that the two songs were distinct enough to not warrant such claims.
Topping off our list of the most popular songs of all time is one that, like it or not, you can probably recite from memory after the first measure. The only song on this list to have two distinct chart topping periods (first in 1976, and again in 1992 as a result of its featured role in the film Wayne’s World. Initially receiving slightly mixed reviews from critics, with its mix of prog rock, opera, and ballad, the commercial success was unprecedented. As a result, the song itself was entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004, and also selected as the Nation’s Number One Song for the United Kingdom in 2012. This concludes our list of the top 10 most popular songs of all time. Do you have a suggestion of what should have made the list? If so, be sure to leave a comment on which song should be included in the future.
- Cody Carmichael
- S Fonsi – Despacito Ft. Daddy Yankee – 7.4 Billion Views
- Sheeran – Shape of You – 5.4 Billion Views
- Khalifa – See You Again Ft. Charlie Puth – 5.2 Billion Views
- K Ronson – Uptown Funk Ft. Bruno Mars – 4.2 Billion Views
- Gangnam Style – 4.1 Billion Views
- Tin Bieber – Sorry – 3.4 Billion Views
- Oon 5 – Sugar – 3.5 Billion Views
- Y Perry – Roar – 3.4 Billion Views
- Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud – 3.3 Billion Views
- Republic – Counting Stars – 3.3 Billion Views
The big boy. Despite a version with Justin Bieber later appearing, the original version of Despacito by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee remains the highest-viewed music video on Youtube, of all time.
An artists who appears twice in this list, Ed Sheeran has swept the world since emerging with his debut EP in 2011. His biggest hit remains Shape of You, released in 2017. To date, it’s scored over five billion views.
Rapper and marijuana activist Wiz Khalifa is one of the most listened to artists in the world – it’s no surprise that he appears in this list with the chart-busting See You Again.
Taking a step down to – gasp – only 4.2 billion views, Uptown Funk sits pretty. The lead single from Mark Ronson’s fourth album Uptown Special enlisted Bruno Marsfor a piece of funk the world will never forget.
A straight-up viral hit that broke international, linguistic, and cultural banners, Gangnam Style from PSYwas instantly one of the most popular songs in the world when it hit the internet in 2012.
Well, he didn’t make it in for his version of Despacito, but at just over 3.3 billion views, Sorry from teen pop sensation Justin Bieberis still one of the most popular songs in the world.
Maroon 5 have a score of hits to their name, but none bigger that Sugar. In 2021 it has claimed over three billion views on Youtube, making it one of the most popular songs ever dropped on the platform.
In an industry that’s been dominated by male artists since, well, forever, massive props to Katy Perry for making a spot on this list. Her 2013 hit Roar is bigger than anything else she’s released – Teenage Dream, California Girls, and yes, even Last Friday Night.
Oh baby, it’s a double! Ed Sheeran is the only person to appear twice in Youtube’s most popular songs in the world, his single Thinking Out Loudcopping over three billion views since it was released in October 2014.
While many would know OneRepublic for their Timbaland-endorsed hit Apologize, it’s Counting Starsthat swept the Youtube era. Just remember, numbers aren’t everything! While you’re here, check out our list of the best YouTube to MP3converters.
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The song, recognized as "the best-selling single of all time", was released before the pop/rock singles-chart era and "was listed as the world's best-selling single in the first-ever Guinness Book of Records (published in 1955) and—remarkably—still retains the title more than 50 years later".