In this blog post, we’ll countdown the top 10 pop songs of all time, according to the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Few things can stir up strong emotions like a good pop song. We all have that one song that takes us back to a certain time and place in our lives. Maybe it’s a song from your first crush, your first heartbreak, or the anthem of your teenage years.
What makes a pop song timeless? Is it the artist? The lyrics? The melody? Or is it something else entirely? These are the 10 pop songs that have stood the test of time and remain as popular today as they were when they were first released.
The Beatles – “Hey Jude”
The Beatles – “Hey Jude”: Released in 1968, “Hey Jude” is a classic example of The Beatles at their best. The song was written by Paul McCartney as a message of support to John Lennon’s son, Julian, during his parents’ divorce. The tune is catchy and the lyrics are heartfelt, making it one of the most memorable pop songs of all time.
Michael Jackson – “Billie Jean”
1. “Billie Jean” is a song by American singer Michael Jackson, released by Epic Records on January 2, 1983, as the second single from his sixth studio album, Thriller (1982). It was written and composed by Jackson, produced by Quincy Jones, and features additional vocals by uncredited singer Paul McCartney.
2. The song was a commercial success; it became one of the best-selling singles of all time, with estimated sales in excess of 10 million copies worldwide. It topped both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts simultaneously for seven weeks, as well as the UK Singles Chart for three weeks. Billboard ranked it as the No. 2 song for 1983 and is considered one of the greatest pop songs of all time.
3. The song won two Grammy Awards in 1984: Record of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. In 2013, “Billie Jean” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and is also ranked No. 24 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list in 2010. Additionally, in 2008, it was voted 9th on Virgin Media’s Greatest Pop Songs Ever top 100 list. In 2003, Jackson’s Estate paid $150 million to Paul McCartney to settle a lawsuit claiming that Jackson plagiarized some of “Billie Jean”‘s composition; as part of the settlement, all future pressings of Thriller credited McCartney as a co-writer.
Madonna – “Like a Virgin”
No other pop song has been so influential and timeless as Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.” Released in 1984, the song was an instant hit, reaching the top of the Billboard charts and becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time. “Like a Virgin” put Madonna on the map as a global superstar, and her career has only continued to grow in the decades since. The song’s iconic music video, which features Madonna seductively writhing around in a wedding dress, only adds to its legend. There’s no doubt that “Like a Virgin” is one of the greatest pop songs of all time.
Whitney Houston – “I Will Always Love You”
It’s hard to imagine a time when Whitney Houston wasn’t a superstar, but in 1992 she reached a new level of fame with her starring role in The Bodyguard. The film’s soundtrack featured “I Will Always Love You,” a song originally written and performed by Dolly Parton. Houston’s version became one of the best-selling singles of all time, and the song was inescapable for months after the film’s release.
Mariah Carey – “One Sweet Day”
“One Sweet Day” is a song by American singer Mariah Carey and R&B group Boyz II Men. The song was released on November 14, 1995, as the second single from Carey’s fifth studio album, Daydream (1995). The record held the title of being the longest-running number one single in Billboard history until it was surpassed by Despacito in 2017.
In the song, Carey and Boyz II Men express the pain of losing a loved one to death. “One Sweet Day” received universal acclaim from music critics, many of whom called it one of the greatest pop songs of all time. The song debuted atop the US Billboard Hot 100, giving both Carey and Boyz II Men their record-setting sixteenth number-one songs on that chart, as well as their twelfth chart-topping collaboration. “One Sweet Day” also topped the charts in Australia for eight weeks, Canada for seven weeks, New Zealand for six weeks and the United Kingdom for three weeks.
Boyz II Men – “End of the Road”
Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” was released in 1992 and quickly shot to the top of the charts, becoming one of the most popular songs of all time. The sentimental ballad is about a relationship that has come to an end, but still holds a place in the singer’s heart. With its catchy melody and relatable lyrics, “End of the Road” resonated with fans around the world and remains one of Boyz II Men’s most iconic hits.
Celine Dion – “My Heart Will Go On”
“My Heart Will Go On” is a song recorded by Canadian singer Celine Dion. It serves as the main theme song to James Cameron’s blockbuster film Titanic, and was released in December 1997. The song became a worldwide hit, reaching the No. 1 spot in more than 50 countries, and remains one of the best-selling singles of all time with sales of over 18 million copies.
Elton John – “Candle in the Wind 1997”
Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 1997” is a tribute to Princess Diana, who died in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997. The song was released as a single on September 29, 1997, and became the fastest-selling single in UK history, selling over 4 million copies within two weeks. It topped the charts in numerous countries, including the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.
Whitney Houston – “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”
1. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” is a song recorded by American singer Whitney Houston. It was released on May 2, 1987, by Arista as the lead single from her second studio album, Whitney. The song was written by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam, and produced by Narada Michael Walden.
2. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” became one of Houston’s signature hits and one of the most successful singles of all time. It topped the charts in 13 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland. In the US, the single spent two weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and four weeks atop Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, while in the UK it spent three weeks atop the UK Singles Chart. Additionally, it won (and has since been nominated for) numerous awards including the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Favorite Pop Single at the 1988 American Music Awards.
3. The music video for “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” was directed by Brian Grant and released on June 1, 1987. The footage features Houston dancing around joyfully with various people at a party. The video also features scenes of her dancing alone in a dark room lit by fluorescent lights as well as sadder moments where she is shown crying or looking reflective. Towards the end of the video Houston is shown dancing with a man who bears resemblance to Elvis Presley; this has been interpreted as a sign that she wanted to dance with somebody who loves her very much like how Presley’s fans love him.
4.”I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” has been covered by numerous artists including Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue and Christina Aguilera who recorded it for Just Dance 2: Extra Songs. In 2010, Solange Knowles performed a cover version of the song as part of her I Am… Tour.”