61 Best Pop Songs Of All Time

Pop music has come a long way from its roots in American and British rock music. Whether you’re a fan of the Beatles or more modern styles, pop music produces some stellar songs that people still enjoy today.

So, let’s go through the best pop songs of all time. You’re sure to find new songs you can add to your favorites. Who knows, maybe you’ll find some music you never knew existed!

Contents

“Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” by Beyoncé

Song Year: 2008

Beyoncé’s hit track is an ode to all the women in relationships that aren’t progressing in their relationship. If your man hasn’t asked you to marry you and has no plans to ask, you might as well be single.

Beyoncé wants women to understand how much they’re worth and to make sure men know that, too. And she thinks the only way to get that message across is to be upfront and honest about your needs.

“Toxic” by Britney Spears

Song Year: 2003

Britney has had a long and troubled road with the men she chooses to date. “Toxic” is one of the best pop songs of all time. Britney’s real-life dating experiences, many of which were negative, influenced the song.

The song is about feeling so addicted to a man that you forget to put yourself first. She labels this type of relationship as toxic, which has become a popular way to describe bad romances.

“Rehab” by Amy Winehouse

Song Year: 2006

Written after her managers urged her to go to rehab, Amy Winehouse tinged her signature song with despair. And sadly, that despair ended up taking her own life.

The song talks about the influences others have on people and how those influences are often unwanted. Although she rebuked these influences, her battle with alcoholism would ultimately take her life.

“Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars

Song Year: 2015

As one of the best funk songs released in the 2010s, Bruno Mars’ hit song has to make the cut. The funky vibes make “Uptown Funk” a perfect dance song.

Mars made his song to get everybody in the mood for a great night. Whether you’re out on the town to have a good time with friends, drink, dance, or find someone for the night, the song rocks. Mars truly made the perfect soundtrack to listen to in the background.

“Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys

Song Year: 1966

Brian Wilson, the primary writer for the Beach Boys, wrote this song while using drugs. He explained that the song wasn’t about anything in particular. He just wanted to write a song showing off his lyrical skills.

But the song ended up blowing up, becoming one of the most popular songs of the 60s. And even today, the song pairs perfectly with a relaxing day with your significant other!

“Escapade” by Janet Jackson

Song Year: 1989

Janet Jackson wrote this song as an ode to a lover she wished she could be with more often. Whether it’s work or other plans, she wants to cancel so she can spend more time with her lover.

The song shot to the tops of the Billboard charts after its release. Once she earned the top spot, she officially had more top songs than her ultra-famous brother, Michael!

“Like a Virgin” by Madonna

Song Year: 1984

Madonna’s love song about a troubled girl has resonated with listeners for decades after its release. The girl hasn’t been treated well by men in the past, but now she’s met a new man.

And that man treats her right for once. After finally meeting him, it was like a breath of fresh air for Madonna, making her feel youthful again. Sometimes meeting new people is the best way to make us realize how much life we have to live.

“Dancing Queen” by ABBA

Song Year: 1976

ABBA’s dance tune is the perfect song for any dance floor. The song describes the beauty and freedom you can find if you love dancing.

ABBA wants everyone to know we can all embrace dancing and having fun, even if we’re not confident. All you have to do is take your chance and get out on the dance floor. Just like that, you’ll fall in love with it too!

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel

Song Year: 1974

Inspired by an old gospel song, Simon and Garfunkel’s melodic track would become one of the best pop songs, even if it also has folk elements. Although they’re more known for their folk songs, the duo also embraced pop music.

The song describes how hard some aspects of life can feel. When bad things happen, such as losing your home or job, doing everything alone is hard. And that’s why you need a comforting hand to help you sometimes.

“Yesterday” by The Beatles

Song Year: 1965

“Yesterday” is a rather depressing song about a man losing his lover after she moves away. He dreams of yesterday when they were together and spending time with one another.

But the song is also sad because he refuses to move on with his life. By remaining distraught about her absence, he fails to move on and experience the other beautiful things life can give you.

“Fantasy” by Mariah Carey

Song Year: 1995

Mariah Carey put out some of the best pop songs of the 90s and early 2000s, but none was as big a hit as “Fantasy.” Written about the heartbreak someone feels when the person they like is unattainable, and many of us can relate to that feeling.

Carey’s obsession goes a little further than usual, though. She even dreams about having an affair with the man. I guess that’s why it’s called “Fantasy!”

“Superstition” by Stevie Wonder

Song Year: 1972

Judging by the song’s name, you may think Stevie Wonder is a superstitious person, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Instead, as the song describes different superstitions people have, Wonder wants us to understand that sometimes these superstitions lead us in the wrong direction. And it’s up to us to recognize when these beliefs aren’t helping us. 

“Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley

Song Year: 1956

Elvis wrote many memorable songs, but none is as poignant as “Heartbreak Hotel.” The tune is about Elvis despairing after the love of his life broke his heart.

What’s interesting is that Elvis recognizes that although he’s in pain, many other people are going through the same pain as him. Just like a popular hotel, “Heartbreak Hotel” is always crowded.

“Respect” by Aretha Franklin

Song Year: 1967

Too often, women don’t get the respect they deserve in relationships. And that was even more true in the 60s. Franklin’s song is about her asking for the respect she deserves from her partner.

Franklin deserves respect because women should be free to make their own decisions without the interference of their partners. That’s real respect, after all.

“California Dreamin’” by The Mamas and The Papas

Song Year: 1965

Written after a dreadfully cold winter in New York, “California Dreamin’” became a classic almost as soon as it came out.

It’s a song about longing for something that you can’t have. One of the singers, Michelle Phillips, was initially from California, and she longed to return to the beautiful weather and escape the drab feeling of New York winter.

“Cheap Thrills” by Sia

Song Year: 2016

More than anything, Sia’s song is about how we need to embrace every moment we have. The song is the perfect background music for getting ready for a night out on the town.

Sia wrote the song to inspire other people to take advantage of the time they have left. Everyone needs to enjoy the time they have with the people they love. And one of the best ways to do that is to get out on the town and enjoy everything life presents to us.

“Purple Rain” by Prince

Song Year: 1984

According to Prince, “Purple Rain” is about the end of the world. He said that we need to embrace the fact that one of these days, we won’t be around.

Prince said that if we want to live a great life, we must embrace God and follow our faith, even when the world ends. Prince even titled the B-side of the single “God” to show his faith.

“Believe” by Cher

Song Year: 1998

When you end a relationship, it takes a lot of time to figure out who you are as a single person. Cher’s hit song is about how you need to embrace the new life you have in front of you.

But sometimes, you want to get back together with that person. And then there's a feeling of disappointment when that person doesn’t live up to your expectations. Cher doesn’t want to sit around and wait for the relationship she deserves.

“Work It” by Missy Elliott

Song Year: 2002

Missy Elliott’s hit song is about one thing—how attractive she is to men. The hit song is about how she can attract any man as long as she works it.

She sings about her attractive figure, which men can’t resist. She also sings about how other ladies shouldn’t feel shame about their activities. Instead, they should embrace whatever makes them feel good.

“The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding

Song Year: 1968

Sadly, Otis Redding was killed in a plane crash before this classic was even released. But the song turned out to be his greatest success, rising to number 1 on the US charts.

The song is about longing to return to a place that’s serene and calm. It was where Redding felt most comfortable and where he could find real peace.

“I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher

Song Year: 1965

When you’re young, you think that love will last forever. You may think that love will help you solve all of your problems. When Sonny and Cher were young, they surely thought the same.

But sometimes society doesn’t appreciate the love of two young people. After many experiences, these people become jaded and don’t believe love is the answer. But Sonny and Cher want to prove them wrong. 

“Walk On By” by Dionne Warwick

Song Year: 1964

“Walk On By” is one of the most popular songs of the 1960s, and it inspired singers from every generation to perform a cover. There are more than 15 covers of this hit song.

The song is about the heartbreak a woman feels after a breakup. And the only way to make yourself feel better is to keep your head high and never show your tears. That way, you’ll never let him know how much he hurt you.

“La Bamba” by Los Lobos

\Song Year: 1987

Los Lobos’ cover of Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” shot the band to success and revived the classic song after the tragic death of Valens.

The song was originally a Mexican folk song, and Valens added elements like an electric guitar to give it a rock ’n roll feeling. Although “La Bamba” doesn’t translate directly to English, it’s the name of a dance popular at the time.

“Somewhere Only We Know” by Lily Allen

Song Year: 2014

Originally by the band Keane, Lily Allen elevates her rendition of the song by adding her beautiful voice to the chilling piano tune.

The song is about going through the memories of young love. These include new adventures to secluded places, providing intimacy to the relationship. Those memories bring joy and strength to Allen.

“Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson

Song Year: 1983

Michael Jackson was the most popular performer of his time, meaning he had his fair share of admirers. But some of those admirers took things too far.

Jackson based this song on a stalker he used to have. The song is about a woman claiming Jackson was the father of her child. The song describes the trouble Jackson has when dealing with women who used his fame to gain things for themselves.

“I Heard it Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye

Song Year: 1968

The classic song about a man finding out his girl is cheating on him has had numerous covers, but none more stunning than Marvin Gaye’s version.

With Gaye’s immensely expressive voice, the song gets a new level of emotion that people still try to imitate in modern music. Perhaps it’s because Gaye experienced this type of heartbreak in his past.

“I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston

Song Year: 1982

When Houston released her version of Dolly Parton’s hit song, she had no idea it would become a ballad for all the lovers in the world.

The song persists as one of the greatest love songs out there. Even for people scorned by love in the past, the song reminds them that love is always achievable.

“Hotel California” by The Eagles

Song Year: 1977

The Eagles were some of the most prominent social critics of the time, and “Hotel California” was no exception. The song describes the excesses of American society and how they seem inescapable.

The song describes the hedonism The Eagles saw throughout America during their extensive travels. They saw that these pleasures may seem fun, but they soon consumed every moment of their life.

“Drink Before the War” by Sinead O’Connor

Song Year: 1987

Sinead O’Connor wrote her hit song to describe the feelings of oppression she feels as an Irish person. She admonished Britain for controlling Northern Ireland, the land she thought should be a part of Ireland.

The song talks about how you should never bow down to those oppressing you. Instead, you need to rise and take what you deserve. And you need to continue the struggle even if brutality befalls you.

“Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears

Song Year: 1998

As Britney’s first mega-hit, this song did more for her career than any other. The song is about a young girl who would do anything if her boyfriend would give her another chance.

To Britney, the loneliness of living without her man is killing her and driving her crazy. At the very least, she wants him to call her one more time to give her a signal.

“ABC” by the Jackson 5

Song Year: 1970

“ABC” is probably the best song by the Jackson 5. And not just because of the catchy tune! The song describes how people learn to love and compares that to learning the alphabet.

The song shot Michael and his family to stardom and made them household names. And even today, this song is one of the most beloved songs ever released by the Jacksons. 

“Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel

“Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel

Song Year: 1968

This song was written for the movie “The Graduate,” which is about a middle-aged woman, Mrs. Robison. She ends up sleeping with a younger man, who happens to be Dustin Hoffman.

The song describes how Mrs. Robinson always tries to get what she wants, even if it’s not socially acceptable. And throughout it all, Jesus still loves her, even if he doesn’t love what she does.

“Umbrella” by Rihanna and Jay-Z

Song Year: 2007

When you’re caught out in the rain, you feel utterly exposed. One thing that can help you feel more secure is the umbrella that keeps you dry.

For Rihanna, we all need an umbrella in our lives to help us feel safe and secure. Even when it starts raining hard and nothing seems to be going right, we can all count on our friends for support.

“I Want It That Way” by The Backstreet Boys

Song Year: 1999

Unlike many men's bands, The Backstreet Boys express their romantic emotions without reservations. They sing about love, heartbreak, and mistakes.

It’s one of the best pop songs because it has many relatable elements. Whether you’ve recently ended a relationship or just started one, you must express those feelings you keep bottled up.

“Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani

Song Year: 2004

The song describes Stefani’s need to be the center of attention at any given time. She goes on to sing about how she deserves the attention because she’s the lead character in her life.

She won’t have anyone take the attention away from her, especially not a “Hollaback Girl.” And she won’t stand for those types of women bad-mouthing her behind her back.

“Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams

Song Year: 2013

Although Daft Punk released the song in 2013, ‘Get Lucky” is firmly a disco song. The song is about the many outcomes of a night out on the town.

Some people stay up all night to have fun, but others stay up all night to get lucky. No matter what you’re in for, a night out can be a welcome reminder to live life to the fullest.

“Dynamite” by BTS

Song Year: 2020

What list of the best pop songs would be complete without BTS’ ultra-popular song? And with over 1.6 billion views in 2 years, it’s one of the best pop songs of the 2000s.

The tune is a feel-good song for anyone who needs a little bit of joy in their life. The song has also become one of the most popular karaoke songs on the planet.

“Titanium” by David Guetta and Sia

Song Year: 2011

If you’ve ever wondered whether you’re strong enough to continue, listening to “Titanium” may help. The song describes the inner strength we all hold within ourselves.

Titanium is one of the strongest metals we have on earth. So, even when the world is throwing everything at you, be like titanium—tough, solid, and dependable. That way, you’ll persevere through all the challenges.

“Levitating” by Dua Lipa

Song Year: 2020

When you fall in love with a new person, everything about your life feels new and exciting. And Dua Lipa expresses that perfectly with her song.

When she finds a new lover, she feels so special that she feels like she’s levitating off the ground. Sometimes, you need to express your love to that person so they can decide whether they like you, too. 

“Bootylicious” by Destiny’s Child

Song Year: 2002

Destiny’s Child released some amazing songs before Beyoncé’s departure, including their most suggestive track. Ultimately, the song has its origins in the unfair way the media would criticize Beyoncé and other curvy women.

She was tired of the way the media would talk about her body, so she wrote a song about it herself. That way, she could have the final word on how people described her body—and that word ended up being “Bootylicious!”

“Can’t Get You Out of My Head” by Kylie Minogue

Song Year: 2001

Minogue’s song is about the infatuation she has with a man. She can’t get him out of her head because his love made her obsessed with him.

When she’s alone, all she wants is to be in his arms. And when they’re together, she wants him to hold her all the time. It’s the type of love we all wish we could experience and luckily for Minogue, she has it!

“Poker Face” by Lady Gaga

Song Year: 2008

Lady Gaga never shies away from the topics other artists tend to avoid. “Poker Face” is about the alternating feelings bisexual people often have to grapple with. These emotions can be hard to regulate, especially because social acceptance of bisexual people isn’t high.

But Gaga wants people to know that her personal experience with bisexuality is complicated by the way people hide their true feelings. She says some people have such good poker faces that they can deceive themselves. 

“Dancing In the Streets” by Martha and the Vandellas

Song Year: 1964

“Dancing In the Streets” is sometimes known as the first pop song ever. Its liberal use of horn instruments and catchy beats makes it the perfect song to encapsulate the spirit of pop music.

The song is about living life to its fullest. One way Martha and the Vandellas experienced life was when they would dance. They wanted to bring the fun and peace dancing gave them to the entire world.

“You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon

Song Year: 1972

Presumably about a man who caused her pain, Carly Simon’s hit song is still an enigma to his day. She never revealed who she wrote the song about, so we’ll have to keep guessing!

The song describes how Simon experienced a self-centered lover who couldn’t reciprocate the love she had for him. The heartbreak was hard for her because she put in a lot more effort than he did.

“My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion

Song Year: 1997

Made famous for its part in Titanic’s soundtrack, “My Heart Will Go On” proved to be one of Celine Dion’s most popular songs. The song describes a couple with love so pure that it inspires other people to attain that type of love.

That type of love is impossible to forget either. And through her song, Celine wants everyone to remember that love is forever. That way, we’ll always have a reminder of what true love looks like.

“Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley

Song Year: 1980

Life will throw all kinds of curveballs at you, sometimes without any notice. It could be heartbreak, the death of loved ones, or anything else. But the most important thing is to keep moving forward in life.

Bob Marley wants us to know that although these problems are serious, it doesn’t do us any good to focus on them. Instead, we need to stop worrying so much. Worrying only makes the problem bigger and harder to deal with.

“Hey Jude” by The Beatles

Song Year: 1968

Written by Paul McCartney, “Hey Jude” is a comfort song written about a boy whose parents are getting a divorce. Some people speculate that he wrote it for John Lennon’s son after he divorced his original wife to be with Yoko Ono.

The song is about taking a bad situation and making it better. No matter what, even when things aren’t going your way, you can always look on the bright side.

“Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan

Song Year: 1965

Have you ever felt down on your luck? Bob Dylan’s iconic song about a woman who falls out of their place in society often resonates with the downtrodden. But even when you’re down on your luck, you have so much to look forward to.

The title is a reference to the proverb “a rolling stone gathers no moss.” Some people think this means people are directionless and won’t have a good life. But others see it as the possibilities opened up by the ultimate freedom.

“Fame” by David Bowie

Song Year: 1975

Written with the help of John Lennon, “Fame” is one of the best pop songs of its era. Its iconic guitar riffs and Bowie’s unique voice give the song its funky vibes.

With this song written to describe the life of a famous person, Bowie wants listeners to realize how useless fame is to society. There’s no tangible benefit from it. All fame did was consume parts of Bowie’s life, not giving him anything positive in return.

“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac

Song Year: 1977

Stevie Nicks wrote her iconic ballad as a message to her lover. She didn’t want to be in a relationship anymore but she didn’t have the confidence to end it herself. She was inviting him to end things.

But the song also mentions different elements, like the freedom people gain when they get out of a relationship. That way, they can figure out their dreams and how to achieve them. 

“Beat It” by Michael Jackson

Song Year: 1982

When you’re put into a stressful situation, it’s impossible to know how you’re going to react. Jackson understood that when it comes to violence, it’s important to be able to control your reaction.

Jackson thinks that getting into fights isn’t worth it. You might be playing with your life, which is never worth it. So the best thing you can do is get out of there, and it doesn’t matter what anybody says.

“I Love Rock ’n Roll” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Song Year: 1982

Written in response to The Rolling Stones’ song “It’s Only Rock ’n Roll,” once Joan Jett discovered the song, she made it her own. The song is meant to show how much rockers love rock music.

Jett’s rendition shows her obvious love for the music. She sings with passion about the job that she’s been doing since she toured around England as a teen. With that sort of history, who wouldn’t love rock ’n roll?

“Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson

Song Year: 2004

Clarkson’s heartbreak song describes the freedom you might feel when you finally break up with a long-term partner. Even when things remind you of them, you can always look back on the bad parts of the relationship and realize why you left.

The song became a breakout hit because of the relatable lyrics. Everyone’s been in a relationship that feels suffocating. And they know the relief that washes over you once you finally leave the relationship.

“Be My Baby” by The Ronettes

Song Year: 1963

“Be My Baby” was one of the first real pop songs and it’s been extremely popular since. It’s about a woman trying to get a man to give her a chance. She would do anything for just a chance.

The song was groundbreaking at the time because it showed a woman longing for a man, instead of the opposite. It showed people that women could fall in love and talk about that love openly, too.

“Hey Ya!” By Outkast

Song Year: 2003

People often associate Outkast’s ultra-popular hit with a happy song due to its upbeat tune. But the song is actually about how modern-day relationships aren’t healthy. There’s too much focus on what other people think and not on love.

Some people stay in relationships way longer than they should, which makes them unhappy. But they stay in the relationship to keep up appearances with others. Outkast wants us to focus on the real part of a relationship—love.

“Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran

Song Year: 2017

Written from the lustful perspective of a man visiting a bar, the song quickly progresses into a ballad about one-night stands. Sheeran focuses much of the song on how much he wants his lover’s body.

He likes how everything with a one-night stand feels new. But sometimes, it’s better to progress past that one night. After that, you become so much more comfortable and everything becomes more natural. Who knows, you might fall in love, too.

“Girls Just Want To Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper

Song Year: 1983

Cyndi Lauper’s song about equality between men and women is about more than just having fun. It’s also about the expectations society puts on women and how women want to break free from those expectations.

Women don’t want to be pigeon-toed into being mothers or wives. Women just want to figure things out for themselves. And sometimes along the way, women want to have a little bit of fun!

“Rolling In the Deep” by Adele

Song Year: 2011

After a heartbreak, Adele only let herself feel sad for a little. And then she thought to herself, why should I be sad? She starts questioning why her partner would leave her, especially when the two seemed to have such a good relationship.

Now she wants to make that partner regret their decision by showing them how successful she can be without them. Her partner didn’t have her back, so now she’s turning her back on him.

“Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift

Song Year: 2014

Taylor Swift accumulated a lot of attention from the media, and most of it wasn’t fair to her. They focused on her relationships, her intelligence, and so much more. She had to learn from an early age to shake off the criticism and keep moving forward.

She found success by ignoring these unhelpful opinions and has now grown into one of the world’s most popular singers. Maybe we should all follow her example and not take what the haters say too seriously. 

“Electric Feel” by MGMT

Song Year: 2007

For MGMT, some women just give you a special feeling. Initially, people thought the song’s title referred to a woman who gave the songwriters an “Electric Feeling.” She has the power to attract any man and shock the world, which is a pretty impressive power.

But once you get to the end of the song, you start to realize the song isn’t about any real woman. Instead, it’s about the singers’ penchant for using illegal drugs or alcohol. That electric feeling is just the intoxicating effects of those substances.

“Redbone” by Childish Gambino

Song Year: 2016

Sometimes when you’re in a relationship, you need to make compromises. And that includes making compromises with yourself. Childish Gambino needed to put aside his jealousy and paranoia to fully trust his partner.

Once he does that, he can fully understand what loyalty means. If you understand loyalty, it’s much easier to trust your partner. And we all know that trusting your partner is an essential part of any good relationship.

Top Pop Songs Ever, Final Thoughts

Pop songs have been brightening our days for more than 50 years, so it’s about time you know some of the best pop songs of all time! Although this list isn’t exhaustive, it has a wide array of songs from different genres of pop so everyone has a chance to enjoy them.

Whether you’re a fan of modern pop or the oldies, you’re sure to find a new song that you love. So, which of the best pop songs is your favorite?

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One Comment

  1. Thank you for compiling this, although I am surprised that Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” is not here and not very close to the top.

    IMHO, “Don’t Stop” is the best song ever written. This video, featuring Fleetwood Mac, I think, Cher, and a large number of brightly attired band musicians with drums and brass instruments and a massive crowd of the audience dancing along, shows just how much “Fleetwood Mac” (now, sadly, without Christine McVie) and “Don’t Stop” are worshipped around the world.

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