37 Songs That Everyone Knows – Old & New

Despite there being billions of songs out there, certain ones strike a chord of recognition in everyone. Hum the opening bar to one of these, and soon you’ll have a sing-a-long on your hands.

These songs bridge the gap between generations, as people young and old know them and enjoy them together. So, here are our best songs that everyone knows.

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“Every Breath You Take” by The Police

Song year: 1983

Written by The Police frontman Sting, “Every Breath You Take” is another song forever burned into the minds of so many.

This song has appeared in several movies and TV shows, notably the hits Glee and Stranger Things. Numerous singers have covered this song, is a sample in the 1997 Puff Daddy tribute to The Notorious B.I.G., “I’ll Be Missing You.”

While some denounce the song for being “creepy” because of its promise to always be watching, it is an inescapable tune known to all.

“All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey

Song year: 2011

While most songs recognizable to everyone will be old songs, here’s one that came out about ten years ago!

And yes, it’s a holiday song, and not everyone celebrates Christmas. However, whether you participate in Christmas traditions or not, there’s no chance that you haven’t heard this soulful tune over the airwaves.

The legend Mariah Carey herself co-wrote the song and released it on her 1994 holiday album, Merry Christmas. Ever since then, this song has been burned into the minds of billions of people.

It is simply not winter if you have not yet heard “All I Want For Christmas Is You” at least once – against your will or not.

“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cindy Lauper

Song year: 1983

It is a little-known fact that “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was written and performed in 1979 by Robert Hazard.

Cindy Lauper recorded her version from a female perspective to release on her 1983 album. The song was considered a feminist anthem at the time.

Lauper sings about wanting to live her life happy and free, not taking life as seriously as everyone expected women to in the ’80s.

The fun, dancy tune puts anyone into a good mood, which is why it has persisted as a popular song known by all ever since.

“Dance Monkey” by Tones and I

Song year: 2019

Toni Watson, better known as Tones and I, is a newcomer to the pop scene. The Australian has spent years as a popular busker, playing music in the streets and performing small shows.

In 2019, her song “Dance Monkey” blew up and became an international hit.

“Dance Monkey” peaked at number 4 on the charts in the United States but hit number 1 internationally.

The song is catchy and fun – in just a short time, it has become a tune that everybody knows.

“Hey Ya!” By Outkast

Song year: 2003

“Hey Ya!” is a fun song that exploded when it came out and has remained popular. It is a catchy, dance-worthy tune that you can’t help but enjoy.

Written and performed by Outkast (Andre 3000 and Big Boi), “Hey Ya!” has been a successful and popular song for nearly twenty years.

It has been covered many times, with versions from various genres.

If you were to sing this song in a crowded room, you would hear at least one (or ten!) people sing along with you.

“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston

Song year: 1987

Singer Whitney Houston is responsible for many hit singles that have persisted through the decades.

One of the most notable is “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” which won a Grammy in 1988 for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam wrote this song. They were also the authors of Whitney Houston’s previous hit, “How Will I Know” (which would hold its own on this list as well).

The song is about more than dancing. It was about wanting to find a true soulmate to live life with.

Perhaps because of the meaning, this song is relatable to many. It has stuck around as one of those older songs that everyone knows, even to this day.

“Yeah!” by Usher (Ft. Lil Jon and Ludacris)

Song year: 2004

“Yeah!” from Usher’s famed 2004 Confessions album features rappers Lil Jon and Ludacris. This song has been quoted, covered, and parodied so much since its release.

Popular with kids and adults alike, this is one of those new songs that everyone knows. While it’s not exactly current pop culture, it’s at least from this century, where most well-known songs that cross generations are from the ’80s.

“Yeah!” is significant because it combines two popular genres of the time, R&B and Crunk, which were referred to as “Crunk&B” by the artists involved.

Close to twenty years after the song’s release, we bet you still have the urge to dance whenever someone says the word “yeah” in any context.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

Song year: 1975

If we are going to talk about songs that everyone knows, “Bohemian Rhapsody” has a well-earned spot on the list.

Most people have grown up hearing the lyrics sung by the legendary band Queen. There have been covers and features in various forms of media, keeping it relevant and well-known.

The song itself is six minutes long and considered a suite.

Most progressive rock songs didn’t get very popular in the mainstream, but “Bohemian Rhapsody” was an exception. Despite their length, most people have committed Freddie Mercury’s original lyrics to memory and can recite the song at will.

“Baby” by Justin Bieber

Song year: 2010

“Baby” was the 2010 single by sudden pop-star sensation Justin Bieber featuring Ludacris. The song blew up, creating a craze surrounding the young Canadian, who was just sixteen years old at the time.

It charted in the top ten in multiple countries, including the United States and Canada. “Baby” spent several weeks in the charts globally.

The music video for “Baby” remains one of the most-viewed videos on YouTube to this day. Everyone young or old knows this song. Whether they love it or claim to hate it, you can bet that this earworm has spent time in their heads.

“Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson

Song year: 1982

It’s no surprise that one of the old songs everyone knows comes from an incredibly famous artist – Michael Jackson.

Theories surround this tune, from rumors of secret paternities to sordid affairs. However, the likely tale surrounding this song’s inception is that Jackson drew inspiration from a letter from a lovesick fan he had never even met.

People frequently say that “Billie Jean” is the most requested karaoke song of all time, so there’s no wonder how everyone knows this former number-one hit.

“All Star” by Smash Mouth

Song year: 1999

This turn-of-the-century hit, released in 1999, ranked in the top ten charts everywhere and became one of the year’s best songs.

It was featured in the film Mystery Men that same year but received even more notoriety for Shrek in 2001.

Because of its popularity across generations, “All Star” has been ranked one of the top-streamed rock songs in the United States for several years.

You will be hard-pressed to find anybody of any age who does not automatically know “All Star.”

“Cotton Eye Joe” by Rednex

Song year: 1994

There is a unique history behind the song “Cotton Eye Joe.” Rednex, a Swedish Eurodance group, released this famous song in 1994. They based this hit on a traditional folk song in America, however.

The folk song is known to have been a popular song pre-civil war, with versions dating back to the American slavery era. While the traditional song was referred to as “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” Rednex altered the name to “Cotton Eye Joe.”

People play this song at almost every large gathering, party, dance, wedding, etc. Everyone enjoys dancing to this fun tune.

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