Prince – Purple Rain
The importance of Prince as an artist cannot be understated, though he is often overlooked when compared to Michael Jackson. But anybody in their right mind knows that Prince was just as big of a star in his own right.
The song that is most commonly associated with Prince is Purple Rain, from the soundtrack to the movie, Purple Rain. This trio of releases was a crowning achievement and instantly made Prince a legend. Other big Prince hits include When Doves Cry.
Alicia Keys – No One
It seems as if Alicia Keys was destined for greatness from a very young age. The power of the combination of her piano playing and emotional vocal delivery cannot be understated.
One of the tracks that help to display this power is, No One, which came out in 2007. Throughout the following year, No One became the most-played song on the US radio, gaining numerous awards along the way. Her New York themed hit Empire State Of Mind could've also been in this playlist.
Elvis Presley – Can't Help Falling In Love
Gaining the title as one of the greatest love songs to have ever been recorded is no small feat. Yet, for someone of the kingly status as Elvis Presley, it’s almost expected.
Can’t Help Falling In Love is a tenderly serene ballad that hints at the delicate nature of attraction. It’s become a popular song to have played during weddings, whether it be the reception or the actual ceremony itself.
Lorde – Royals
In 2012, Lorde began to become a household name by means of the single, Royals. Though the song was Lorde’s first official single release, it immediately became a hit.
In some ways, Royals sort of changed the landscape of how pop music would sound after the fact. Its minimalist approach, with a focus on vocal hooks, is something that is deemed to be the “modern” sound.
Darius Rucker – Wagon Wheel
If you ever plan on busking on the street as a musician, you better be prepared to play Wagon Wheel. If you frequent enough open mic nights, you’ll eventually learn the song through osmosis.
Though the song’s origins are a bit hazy, the Darius Rucker version tends to be the most widely known. In fact, even Darius Rucker was a little surprised at how successful this song ended up becoming.
Aretha Franklin – Respect
Aretha Franklin is an iconic legend for her towering vocal performances that immediately grip the ear. Though she's had numerous hits throughout her career, Respect has transcended all space and time.
As a black woman in the music business, Respect perfectly laid out the imbalances present in society. The song has gone on to become an anthem, with its spelling of the word respect being forever timeless.
Booker T & the MG's – Green Onions
There was a time during the 1960s when the organ dominated all aspects of pop music. In some ways, the synthesizer age of the 1980s is a sort of reflection of this time period.
Though the synth-heavy sounds of the 1980s tried to be cool, they lacked the authenticity of Green Onions. This is, by far, one of the most famous instrumental songs featuring prominent organ melodies.
Britney Spears – …Baby One More Time
It’s hard to forget the meteoric rise to fame that Britney Spears had alongside her contemporaries. Britney Spears essentially became the celebrity crush of schoolboys all around the world.
She essentially rocketed onto the scene with …Baby One More Time, which was her debut single release. As a song, it is a landmark in the formation of the direction that pop music would eventually follow.
U2 – Beautiful Day
Since the mid-1970s, U2 has had periods of domination over the radio waves. The 1980s and 1990s are generally considered their heyday, but 2000 saw a resurgence in the limelight.
Their track, Beautiful Day, signified that U2’s reign over the mainstream airwaves was nowhere near an end. It would eventually help propel them to become cultural icons in their own, individual ways.
M.I.A. – Paper Planes
There are some songs that, immediately on the first listen, you know will forever be considered a golden release. M.I.A.’s track, Paper Planes, is a song that could easily fit this criterion.
Paper Planes is ridiculously catchy in both its original lyrics and in its vocal melodies. It’s one of those songs that really personifies the sound of what was so popular in music throughout 2008.
Olivia Rodrigo – Good 4 U
Taylor Swift is not the only artist known for writing songs about relationships, but successful and failed. Olivia Rodrigo’s track, Good 4 U, is a sort of upbeat, peppy song that explodes with emotion.
Though the song was recently released in 2021, Good 4 U has a timeless quality that is perceptively palpable. It’s a song that could have just as easily found towering success had it been released 2 decades earlier.
Miley Cyrus – Flowers
Let’s state the obvious, Miley Cyrus’s background often prevents a large portion of people from taking her seriously. Her rise to fame as a Disney star can be a bit of a hurdle that many cannot get over.
However, if there’s one thing that Miley has proved, it’s that her career is just fine without those people. Her 2022 track, Flowers, has broken numerous streaming records with unfathomable numbers.
The Temptations – My Girl
Sometimes, love can make a person feel at the top of the world, even if conditions are bleak. The song that best encapsulates this notion is My Girl, by The Temptations.
This track features the bass guitar legend James Jameson laying down the musical foundation. When combined with the simple guitar arpeggiation, My Girl becomes instantly recognizable within the first few seconds. A classic and one of the greatest songs ever.