The Most Iconic Songs of All Time
We can reveal the most iconic songs for each decade. We created our own music scoring algorithm which ranks songs based on features such as danceability, energy and even screechiness, to uncover the ultimate sound of each decade. If you're looking for a blast from the past to play on your jukebox or a new shower playlist, we've got you covered.
The most iconic songs of all time
The most iconic songs of all time might surprise you - but you can trust us it's rooted in data. The most recent decade (2020s) sees Lewis Capaldi's song "Before You Go" take the top spot. This is quite a contrast to the 1960s most iconic song "Baby I Need Your Lovin'" by Johnny Rivers. Although the two songs are both about not wanting to lose a lover, so maybe things haven't changed as much as you might think!
But some things have changed - when we looked at song trends over time it showed that music is getting louder. So, if you've found yourself turning the volume down more on the radio recently, it's not just you. It's also interesting to highlight that this is a male dominated list. However, when we look at the most popular songs, there is certainly more female influence with Olivia Rodrigo taking the top spot for the 2020s with her song "Good 4 U".
The most popular songs of the decades
As well as finding our very own list of iconic songs, we have collated the most popular songs of the decade according to Spotify data. These songs might be more familiar, as after all they are the most popular. With artists ranging from The Red Hot Chilli Peppers to One Direction, there certainly is something for everyone.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, The Beatles feature in the top 5 most popular songs of the 1960s, with Beatlemania taking the world by storm until their breakup in 1970. Johnny Tillotson also features on the list, with the American singer-songwriter achieving nine top ten hits in several Billboard charts.
Formed in 1971, Eagles dominated the rock genre for the duration of the decade, selling 38 million copies of Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) - making it the best-selling album of all time. From the top 5 most popular songs, it appears that the rock genre became more prevalent in the 1970s, with the inclusion of Kiss and War.
The king of pop, Michael Jackson, makes an appearance in the 1980s top 5 most popular songs, with Billie Jean. The song, released in 1985, went on to sell millions of copies worldwide. Rock continues to prevail in the 1980s, with The Police and Bon Jovi songs featuring in this list.
Rock bands continued to dominate music, but especially in the 1990's with the likes of R.E.M. and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers taking top spots. But clearly rock wasn't the only genre of the 90's, with The Spice Girls 'Wannabe' sitting as the 3rd most popular song of the 1990's.
Eminem grabs the top spot for the 2000's with his song 'The Real Slim Shady', which saw the artist gain his first UK number one hit. The 2000's were also a huge decade for Linkin Park with the group featuring in the top 5 more than once!
The 2010's shift into a more pop oriented top 5 with cheerful, upbeat songs such as Post Malone's hit Circles. There is also a rise in the boy band era with 3/5 of the most popular songs coming from all male groups.
The 2020's see the reign of pop music continue through the likes of Ed Sheeran and Olivia Rodrigo. Interestingly, the 2020's see a new trend with TikTok influencing what's popular with four out of the five songs going viral on TikTok.
Want to take a listen? Scan the QR code on the graphic, or simply click play on the playlists below to listen to the most iconic and popular songs of all time.
Iconic songs playlist:
Popular songs playlist: