Top Ten Most Famous Songs of All Time (Excluding Classical or Traditional Music)

I want you to go deep inside your mind. Ignore your taste and your personal opinion. Ignore critical praise and commercial success.
Just think of which song every child knows, even if it doesn’t know the title or the artist and can’t understand what it’s all about. Think of a song that sooner or later ALWAYS pops up whenever you turn on your radio, a song that always plays when you’re in a store, a song that is frequently used as background music on TV or in movies, maybe even to an extent where it became stereotypical - and all of that for many, many years or even decades. A song so omnipresent that hearing it became as common as walking down a street. When this applies to the song you have in mind, add it.

The Top Ten

1 Thriller - Michael Jackson

Why is "of all time" in the list title if the list is all the second half of the 20th century?

Because coincidentally in this era the songs most people know nowadays were released.

Many Michael Jackson songs would apply for this list, but "Thriller" has a bonus none of his other songs have: it has the most famous, influential and popular music video of all time, which furthermore adds to the song's immense status.

2 We Will Rock You - Queen We Will Rock You - Queen Cover Art

When you start stomping twice and then clap, and an entire stadium with people from all around the world starts playing along, then the number one spot is justified.

3 I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston Cover Art

Ever since its release, this might have become the quintessential love song of all time. Also, it's a cover song that's much more popular than the originalm - Martin_Canine

4 All You Need is Love - The Beatles All You Need is Love - The Beatles Cover Art

Virtually never played on radio.

What are you talking about? This song is heard every second day, and it was a worldwide hit. - Martin_Canine

I absolutely love this song, but I honestly don’t think that this should be in the top 10. Other Beatles songs are more popular. Most of my classmates don’t even know what this song is, sadly. :/ - Misfire

This is probably the most famous band's most famous song, and the most famous song about peace. Ironically it's only on some editions of one of their least influential releases. - Martin_Canine

"Yesterday" is the most-covered song of all time, with over 2,000 different recorded covers to date. It is also one of the top 5 "most played" songs in radio history, but "Thriller" is not.

5 Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin Cover Art
6 Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen Cover Art

Bohemian Rhapsody should most definitely be #1. The movie of the same name is absolutely FANTASTIC. Topped the box office right 'round the world on its opening weekend (November 2018). Bohemian Rhapsody, the song, is once again selling like wild fire.

The greatest rock song ever written (by Freddie Mercury) performed by the greatest rock band of all time, Queen.

You

7 Last Christmas - Wham! Last Christmas - Wham! Cover Art

I didn’t even know this version existed. Lmao - Misfire

I don't know about the US, but in German speaking territory this song is heard 24/7 during December. There are even jokes about this being the only relevant Christmas song (like, a list about the best holiday songs consisting of only this song). Every year, again and again, this song gets extremely popular towards the end of the year since 30 years now. - Martin_Canine

When every year in December for over 30 years, a song plays several times a day, this is a really close candidate for the number one spot. - Martin_Canine

8 Jailhouse Rock - Elvis Presley Jailhouse Rock - Elvis Presley Cover Art
9 What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong Cover Art

This song is universally and frequently played whenever a peaceful and harmonic scenery is shown (or the opposite), apart from the fact it appears on many samplers and airs much on the radio. - Martin_Canine

It was used in Madagascar & Finding Dory too. It really is famous! - Victoryboy

10 Eye of the Tiger - Survivor Eye of the Tiger - Survivor Cover Art

I wonder how the band would have felt they had never had a hit before I don’t think and then suddenly they had one of the biggest songs ever.

"Rocky" was an Oscar winning movie, the sequels were just entertainment, but not critical darlings. But the third movie featured one of the most played songs of all time: "Eye of the Tiger" became synonymous with training and sports scenes in movies and on T.V., and, like all of the songs on here, is an evergreen on the radio. - Martin_Canine

The Contenders

11 My Heart Will Go On - Celine Dion My Heart Will Go On - Celine Dion Cover Art
12 Hound Dog - Elvis Presley Hound Dog - Elvis Presley Cover Art
13 We are the Champions - Queen We are the Champions - Queen Cover Art

The essential song that is ALWAYS played when someome wins. No matter what they win, or who. Next to "We Will Rock You", it's also their song that gets the most airplay.

Queen

14 In the Air Tonight - Phil Collins In the Air Tonight - Phil Collins Cover Art
15 Stayin' Alive - The Bee Gees Stayin' Alive - The Bee Gees Cover Art
16 My Way - Frank Sinatra My Way - Frank Sinatra Cover Art

Although it's neither an original song nor one of his first (it was recorded 30 yeara after his debut single), "My Way" became the definite Frank Sinatra song and one of the most played and sung songs all around the globe. - Martin_Canine

17 Purple Rain - Prince & the Revolution Purple Rain - Prince & the Revolution Cover Art
18 Can't Help Falling in Love - Elvis Presley Can't Help Falling in Love - Elvis Presley Cover Art
19 Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash Cover Art
20 Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Judy Garland Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Judy Garland Cover Art
21 Waterloo - ABBA Waterloo - ABBA Cover Art

The song that brought one of the five famous groups of all time on the map is not only the most famous Eurovision Song Contest winner, it's also made its way to worldwide fame, and is beloved by almost everyone around the globe, probably even more than their other many, many, many, many, many evergreens. - Martin_Canine

22 Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple Cover Art
23 Highway to Hell - AC/DC Highway to Hell - AC/DC Cover Art
24 White Christmas - Bing Crosby White Christmas - Bing Crosby Cover Art
25 I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor Cover Art
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