This the genre of music that perhaps holds the distinction of producing the most hits. The song is a hit if it sells million plus copies, simple. The origins of the genre can be dragged back to the early 20th century, but it gained popularity and took serious shape as a specific genre only after the 1950s in the US. Pop music from then on was generally considered to include a catchy sound or style which became a hit and could be from any overlapping genre like rock, country or R&B.
It can be argued that Pop music, while still liked and successful, has lost its sheen. Today the listener has the choice of a massive catalog of music which is available through music platforms like Spotify and Apple music. It is not just limited to whats playing on the radio or the music you purchased for your personal collection. You can sample all kinds of music from all kinds of genres and types of music. People have expanded their range of music and are open to newer styles. That said, pop music still thrives. The catchy dance music still is successful in appealing to as many people as possible. The style of music going by the trends is still loved and has by no means lost any of its past popularity. Audiences eagerly wait for their favorite artists and idols to produce newer songs and albums and the top artists continue to churn out a bountiful supply of new music and new hit songs each year.
The best pop songs have to have a catchy hook or a melody that forces a person to get those legs moving in a jig, a beat that makes you want to move. It should have meaningful lyrics and the singer should be able to hold your attention completely for those four or five minutes. All these make a pop song memorable and a classic, such as those that are listed here in the Best Pop Songs of all time.
Don’t Speak by No Doubt
The song was part of the album Tragic Kingdom which was released in 1995. The success of the track ensured that nothing was going to be the same for the band from California. The song dealt with intensely personal issues of Gwen Stefani post her break up with band mate Tony Kanal, who she had met in high school and dated for several years. The song was instrumental in No Doubt remaining one of the most popular bands in the waning years of the 20th century. The video for the song had the lead singer donning a ‘bindi’ and was one of the most aired videos on MTV. Thanks to this song, No Doubt was nominated for the Grammy Awards the following year.
Baby One More Time by Britney Spears
The song that introduced Britney Spears to the world and that changed the world of Pop music and introduced small town teens into the world of music. Almost pushing 40 now, Britney Spears had a runaway hit with this song when she was just a teen in 1999. One of the biggest and most successful songs by a teenage artist ever, it is also a landmark hit in the career of Swedish songwriter and producer Max Martin. Britney revolutionized the Pop Era with a single so iconic that it remains a cornerstone of popular music more than 20 years after it was released. The song also introduced a new era of production, persona and style. The song became a chart-topping hit in more than a dozen countries around the world. The video for this song was initially planned to be an animated one, but Britney rejected the idea and proposed the idea of a teenage girl in uniform in a catholic school setting. She had no idea at that time on how successful the song would be but most kids from the 90s will never forget the first time they listened to one of the top pop songs of all time.
Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera
Two of the iconic pop stars of the 90s and early 2000s collaborated together to produce this incredible gem with reference to one of the greatest musicians of all time – Mick Jagger. This track was added on to Maroon 5’s 2010 album Hands All Over, since the album sales were not doing well. Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera made a huge premiere of the song on NBC’s The Voice, where they were coaches. The song became a massive hit and was like an an adrenal shot in the arm for the album sales. The music video to promote the song quite literally included moves by the Rolling Stones front man – Mick Jagger.
Bad Romance by Lady Gaga
It is most definitely my favorite Lady Gaga song. The queen of pop, at least in recent times, released this masterpiece song in 2009 as a dance single and with it unleashed and cemented her status as pop royalty. The catchy song was accompanied by an equally fantastic video that received a Grammy Award and in 2018 was named by Billboard as the best music video of the 21st century. Lady Gaga first introduced the song on the fashion runway at Alexander McQueen’s Paris Fashion Week show in October 2009. From then on the song sold in excess of 10 million digital copies worldwide and is one of the top pop songs of all times.
Rolling in the Deep by Adele
From being a talented English singer and songwriter, Adele in a little over a decade has managed to become one of the most successful and a best-selling music artist in the world. She has received numerous prestigious awards in this short span of time which includes an Academy award and the Golden Globe Award for her song – Skyfall for the James Bond film of the same name released in 2012. Besides these she has also amassed a collection of 15 Grammy Awards so far in her career. She is known to use her age as titles for her album like her recently released album – 30. While the hit track from the album ‘Easy on Me’ has been on the top charts the most successful and the top ranked song of all time has been ‘Rolling in the Deep’. Even though all her songs with their personal and meaningful lyrics appeal to the massive fan following, this song is most definitely her best. The song also won Adele the Grammy for Song and Record of the year. The song was apparently written in a day after her split from her then boyfriend. The heartbreak from that relationship surely paid off big time for the singer as the song became one of the biggest selling single of all time.
Shape of You by Ed Sheeran
The song with over 5 billion views and counting and a track which spent 33 straight weeks on the top 10 Billboard chart, a record breaking feat back in 2017. The song also won for Sheeran the Grammy for the Best Pop Solo Performance in 2018. The song was released as a single from the 2017 released third album of Ed Sheeran. Within a week of its release the song raced on to the top 10 charts in 20 countries including United States, Canada, Germany and Australia. Ed Sheeran has swept the world since his emergence on the music scene way back in 2011 and Shape of You, remains his greatest hit and one of the most famous songs in the world.
Billie Jean by Michael Jackson
The song almost did not make it on the ‘Thriller’ album. But the track went straight to No. 1 and was a top 10 hit across the world. The man who was revered as the King of Pop just had to be on this list, the difficult part was choosing the best song amongst the many chart topping pop hits that he produced in his time here in this mortal world. This song from his best-selling album – Thriller which was released in 1982, is considered one of Michael Jackson’s greatest songs ever. It has a heady mix of youthful exuberance and grace. It was one of first songs that was written for the album and is also another of those lengthy five plus minute songs. The lyrics of the songs were inspired by the experience of MJ’s brother with groupies while touring with the Jackson 5. With sales of over 10 million and counting, the song is one of the best selling singles of all time and also bagged two Grammy Awards. One of the most famous songs of one of the most celebrated music icons of all times, Billie Jean has been making the world dance ever since it was released almost 40 years ago.
Rehab by Amy Winehouse
The song which became one of the biggest hits of the late British singer is a great song and became a poignant classic after her tragic death in 2011 at the age of just 27 years. A timeless ode to defiance this became Amy’s signature song. Apparently the song originated out of a discussion which the singer had with her father trying to convince her to go to rehab. The distinctive vocals of Amy reached the pop top 10 in both UK and the US and won the Grammy Awards for Record and Song of the Year.
Like a Virgin by Madonna
The song was written by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg who also wrote mega hits of the 80s like Eternal Flame by the Bangles, So Emotional by Whitney Houston, True Colors by Cyndi Lauper and Alone by Heart. All of which were no. 1 hits in the US featuring female singers. The song raised many eyebrows on its release when an artist calling herself Madonna recorded a song called Like A Virgin, considering it to be mocking the Catholic faith. Madonna performed the song for the first time at the first MTV Video Music awards in 1984, wearing a wedding dress and a belt buckle that said ‘Boy Toy.’ The song became Madonna’s first No. 1 hit in the US and stayed there for 6 weeks. The success of the song as one of the best pop songs can be ascertained by the fact that it has been used in movies like Reservoir Dogs and Moulin Rouge. The song established Madonna as a pop icon with many more hits to follow.
With or Without You by U2
The song was released as a single from the band’s most successful album at the time – The Joshua Tree. The lyrics are said to inspired by lead vocalist Bono’s conflicting feelings about the dual lives he led, that of a musician and a domestic man. The Irish band had their first No. 1 hit with this track way back in 1987 as part of their 5th studio album. A U2 concert is not over till the crowd has heard this track from the band from Dublin. The song was also used in the long running popular TV Series Friends. It was also the first single of U2 to be released on CD and is a rare collectible item.
If you ask a singer, songwriter of for that matter anyone from the music industry about what makes a pop song great and you will get a number of differing answers. There is no secret formula for a good pop song. Ultimately it is the people that like what they like but a good beat surely. In this case we have made a list of the top 10 pop songs based on the iconic artists that sang them and the longevity of the song on the charts and in the radio playlists.
We have narrowed down the list to the top 10 pop songs, we leave the rest to you to pick for yourself which of these do you consider should be labeled the most popular song.
Musical taste is absolutely subjective and hence the best of lists are always colored with personal taste. Admittedly, our list would probably also be influenced by personal preferences as well. However, this didn’t stop us from making one. Find out if your favorite tunes are on this list of what we consider the 10 best pop songs of all time.
We will let you decide. We did the heavy lifting and have narrowed it down to just 10. Listen for yourself and give it your stamp of approval. Let it be your No. 1.
There are still many bands in different genres of pop music that are producing great albums. Any band that comes out of nowhere and takes over the culture with that one song or one album can capture the hearts and minds of the audience. As long as there is creativity and the tendency to move away from repetition, there will be new sounds, new songs and new bands.