best songs of all time

Playlist Hits 3 | 13 of the greatest songs of all time and their stories behind

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Greatest Songs of All Time
No one has the magic formula, the one that turns a song into a timeless hit. We’ve compiled 13 of the greatest tunes of all time and the surprising stories that inspired them. Will you know them all? 🤔
Author |JC Trembol
Reading Time | 5 min
Listening Time | 50 min

You can also enjoy the first Hits Playlist 🎧 or see all our handmade playlists

Discover the story behind 13 of the greatest songs of all time

Pop, rock, dance… The genre doesn’t matter when it comes to talking about the best songs in music history. In this playlist, we invite you to discover some of those songs that seem to stay young forever, and how they were crafted 🤔

1. TRAIN | Hey, Soul Sister

Album ‘Save Me San Francisco‘ | USA | 2009
  • Hey, Soul Sister is one of those songs whose title reads sing-along 🎶 The track was written by Train vocalist Patrick Monahan, who first teamed up with Norwegian songwriters Amund Bjørklund and Espen Lind of the duo Espionage.
  • The track, released in 2009, was the first single from the album ‘Save Me San Francisco‘, the most successful of their career.
  • The song sold over 5 million copies and was number 1 in 16 countries.
  • Hey, Soul Sister is about love, about your better half.
  • Train’s singer, Patrick, wrote it after several days of little sleep, so we can say that it evokes a sleepy romanticism 😂

2. TERRY RONALD | Calm The Rage

Album ‘ROMA‘ | UNITED KINGDOM | 1991
  • We travel back in time to 1991 to tell you about this marvel called Calm The Rage‘ by Terry Ronald.
  • The song opens the British singer’s first and only album, ‘Roma‘, made up of 11 other tracks.
  • The truth is that Roland was more of a composer than a performer, and although in the 90s he wanted to try his luck with his own songs, it all stayed on one album 💿
  • Some of the artists Roland has written for include Atomic Kitten and Kylie Minogue.
  • Calm the Rage became a hit in Europe and it is still played every day on the radio 30 years later.
  • It is a melancholic song, but with a halo of optimism and, above all, a very catchy rhythm.

3. AL BANO & ROMINA POWER | Felicita (Happiness)

Album ‘Felicita‘ | ITALY | 1982
  • Unlike other mixed duos, Italians Albano Carrisi and Romina Francesca Power were a couple when they released ‘Felicita’.
  • They met during the shooting of a film and fell in love 👩‍❤️‍👨
  • Felitica is one of the most sung songs in the world – a hymn to love and joy!
  • The duo performed this song for the first time at the San Remo Festival, where they came second.
  • Felicita was so successful in Italy, that they decided to record it also in Spanish, under the name, Felicidad (Happiness), being another big hit.
  • Surprisingly, the videoclip was filmed in St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Although the duo split up in 1999 both professionally and personally, the truth is that where there was fire there are always ashes and from time to time they get together to sing their greatest hits.

4. TWENTY ONE PILOTS | Stressed Out

Album ‘Blurryface‘ | USA | 2015
  • Is having a number 1 stressful? We don’t know for sure, although the transition to adulthood always entails losing some of the innocence and tranquillity of childhood.
  • That’s what Stressed Out is all about, nostalgia for childhood and the pressure of adulthood.
  • So nostalgic were the protagonists that most of the track’s music video was filmed in the house where Josh Dun, the drummer, lived during his childhood. In fact, his parents had to cut the phone line, as the phone was listed in the phone books and they had a flood of calls 📞
  • The singer, Tyler Joseph also embodies his insecurities through ‘Blurryface’, a character in the video, which also gives its name to what is the American duo’s fourth studio album.
  • Stressed Out reached number 1 on multiple charts such as the US Hot Rock Songs, as well as winning the Grammy for Best Pop Duo Performance.

5. SAM SMITH & DEMI LOVATO | I’m Ready

Album ‘Love Goes‘ | UK | 2020
  • We come to the newest hit on this list, I’m Ready, the long-awaited collaboration between Sam Smith and Demi Lovato that we were finally able to enjoy in 2020.
  • We have songwriter Savan Kotecha, who has worked with both Sam (How Do You Sleep?), and Demi (Cool For The Summer o Confident), to thank for this.
  • Prior to the collaboration, Demi covered Sam’s song Too Good At Goodbyes.
  • I’m Ready is a very intense track that was released after the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, which led to a complete change of concept on ‘To Die For’, which was to be the title of Sam’s new album at the time and was renamed ‘Love Goes‘.
  • Special attention to the beautiful gospel choir accompanying the lead vocals!
  • The song tells how both artists are willing to fall in love, despite all the risks that this can bring 🥰

6. ENANITOS VERDES | Lamento Boliviano (Bolivian Lament)

Album ‘Big Bang‘ | ARGENTINA | 1994
  • Y ahora estoy aquí, borracho y loco… (And now I’m here, drunk and crazy…) 🎶 All Spanish speakers have sung this chorus at the top of their lungs.
  • Lamento Boliviano is a song by the band Enanitos Verdes (Little Green Dwarfs), that has sounded and resonated around the world since it was released in 1994.
  • The song was composed by another band called Alcohol Etílico (Ethyl Alcohol), in 1984, although it didn’t become a true rock hit until it was covered by Enanitos Verdes a decade later.
  • Curiously, Horacio Gómez, the keyboardist of Enanitos Verdes was also the keyboardist of Alcohol Etílico, so he covered his own song 🤣
  • The song refers to a typical saying in Argentina. The Bolivian lament is that of those people who never stop complaining about the same thing over and over again.
  • It is not the only thing that the song talks about, as its verses also sing of heartbreak.
  • The song has continued to be covered over the years by artists such as Dani Mata.
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7. STROMAE | Alors on Danse (So let’s dance)

Album ‘Cheese‘ | BELGIUM | 2009
  • We reach the halfway point of our playlist with ‘Alors on Danse’ by Belgian singer-songwriter Paul van Haver, better known as Stromae.
  • Maybe the name doesn’t ring a bell, but I’m sure this great electronic track has made you dance more than once, with its renewed euro dance rhythm.
  • In fact, that’s what the lyrics are all about, dancing to forget your troubles 👯
  • Alors on Danse reached number one in 11 European countries, including Germany, becoming the second French-language song to reach the top of the charts in that country. The first was Vanessa Paradis with Joe Le Taxi in 1988. Not only that, but it stayed there for 57 weeks.

8. BLUR | The Universal

Album ‘The Great Escape‘ | UK | 1995
  • We were already looking forward to getting to the band that dominated Brit Pop, along with Oasis, in the 90s. We’re talking about Blur, and one of their flagship tracks, The Universal, included in their 4th album, The Great Escape.
  • If you’re wondering why the video is a bit psychedelic, it’s because the song is about an anti-depressant drug that, due to its active compound, improves mood.
  • To compose the clip they used Stanley Kubrick’s magnificent film, ‘A Clockwork Orange‘, as inspiration 🍊
  • As we were telling you, the band made it big in the 90s, but that wasn’t to the liking of all its members, especially the guitarist, Graham Coxon, who didn’t want the success and hated The Universal’s video clip.

9. TAMARA | No Quiero Nada Sin Ti (I don’t want anything without you)

Album ‘Amores‘ | SPAIN | 2009
  • From the West to Paris and from Paris to the beach, all without leaving a film set. This is the video for Tamara‘s beautiful and lively song, ‘No quiero nada sin ti (I don’t want anything without you)’.
  • In her romantic lyrics, the Spaniard says that, despite having travelled the world on her own, she needs someone else to accompany her on her adventures ✈️
  • Tamara has shared her life since 2005 with businessman Daniel Roque, to whom she dedicates this song and with whom she shares her travels.
  • Tamara is well known for her covers of songs such as El gato que está triste y azul or La distancia, by Roberto Carlos, but also for her own songs, such as No quiero nada sin ti or Si nos dejan.
  • Fame came to Tamara quite early, as she participated in a musical talent contest when she was very young, which led her to release her first album when she was only 15 years old. It was called ‘Gracias (Thank you)‘. It was full of boleros that triumphed both in Spain and Latin America.

10. COUNTING CROWS | Mr Jones

Album ‘August and Everything After’ | USA | 1993
  • Let’s change register and get right into rock with Mr Jones by Counting Crows.
  • It was the first single from the band’s debut album, August and Everything After, which sold very well.
  • It is said that the band’s success may have been due to the death of Kurt Cobain (Nirvana and Foo Fighters story here), as it all happened around the same time. In fact, this event served as the inspiration for the song Catapult, included in the band’s second album, Recovering the Satellites.
  • Do you know who Mr Jones is? According to Adam Duritz, vocalist of the band and composer of the song, Mr Jones refers to Marty Jones, a great friend of his from his previous band ‘The Himalayans‘.
  • In fact, it refers to a bar anecdote 🍸 in which they both saw a musician conquering three women at the same time. They couldn’t imagine anything like that ever happening to them. Adam decided to write about it.

11. SHEPPARD | Geronimo 

Album ‘Bombs Away’ | AUSTRALIA | 2014
  • Joy, colour, fun, energy… this is what Geronimo, from the band Sheppard, transmits.
  • Why Geronimo? With this title, the Australian band refers to the military leader of the Apaches, Geronimo.
  • It also refers to the shout that became customary before doing a brave or dangerous act in the 1939 film about this historical character. In fact, I’m sure you’ve shouted at some point, Gerooooniiimoooooo! 🤾‍♀️
  • Being such an upbeat and cheerful track earned the band a place on the soundtrack of films like Alvin and The Chipmunks and Underdogs.
  • There are 2 versions of the video. In the one you see here, the members prepare for battle, reminiscent of the days of the Apache leader. Later, when international success came with Geronimo, they recorded another video, much more cheerful and colourful.
  • Incidentally, the song came about by chance, thanks to the inspiration of Jay Bovino, the band’s guitarist.

12. SHAKIRA | Estoy Aquí (I’m here)

Album ‘Pies Descalzos‘ | COLOMBIA | 1995
  • Shakira never goes out of fashion. This is evidenced by Estoy Aquí‘, a song that is more than 25 years old and still as iconic.
  • ‘Estoy Aquí’ is part of her album, Pies Descalzos (Barefoot), the first album Shakira recorded in a professional studio.
  • So famous did the song become around the world, that she took advantage of its popularity to release several versions in different languages.
  • Composed by Shakira herself, along with Luis Fernando Ochoa, ‘Estoy Aquí’ talks about falling out of love and how the memories of a failed love are driving her crazy 🤪
  • Surely Shakira has lived through situations like this, but this time the song was inspired by the break-up of one of her best friends.

13. TOTO | Rosanna

Album ‘Toto IV’ | USA | 1982
  • We round off this list of all-time hits with Rosanna by Toto, one of my favourite songs.
  • It was written by David Paich for Toto and chosen as the first single from the album Toto IV.
  • Thanks to Rosanna they swept the Grammy Awards in 1982, winning 6 awards. Among them Record of the Year and Best Vocal Accompaniment Arrangement.
  • I’m sure by now you’re wondering who Rosanna is. Well, rumour has it that the song is a tribute to American actress Rosanna Arquette, who was the partner of Steve Porcaro, the band’s keyboardist. Love always inspires good songs, and in this case even more so ❤️

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Tell us, did you like them, which one is your favourite? 😍

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