1. Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
Have you seen girls sing this song at karaoke yet? This is probably the best new karaoke song of the past five years. It sounds like it was designed specifically for large groups of drunk girls to sing together after one of them dumped some awful guy, and because of this, it will always be around. (You don’t have to be a girl to have this experience, but it probably helps.)
2. Miley Cyrus, “Party in the U.S.A.”
“Party in the U.S.A.” will stick around a long time because 1) it is tied to happy childhood memories for an entire generation, 2) it will always be a good “hey, remember this?” song to play at parties, and 3) it’s also super patriotic, so it will always get a lot of play around the 4th of July. Also, even if you can’t stand Miley Cyrus, you probably still like this song.
3. Sleigh Bells, “Crown on the Ground”
Pretty much everything on Sleigh Bells’ debut album Treats, really. Even if you don’t know who this band is, you’ve almost certainly heard their energetic, ultra-bombastic combo of rock riffs and crunk bass in all sorts of ads, movie trailers, and TV shows. This music is going to have utility for a loooong time, and in the future, people will be surprised that songs like “Crown on the Ground,” “Kids,” and “Infinity Guitars” were not actually major chart hits at the time of their release.
4. Skrillex, “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”
This is pretty much the same deal as with Sleigh Bells — even if you don’t really listen to Skrillex, you almost definitely know this song. This has the added bonus of basically being the first hugely famous dubstep song, and as such will always be used in movies and documentaries as musical shorthand for the early 2010s EDM boom. Also, this is a brilliantly composed track, and far more musical than a lot of people realize.
5. Jay-Z and Kanye West, “N****s In Paris”
It’s the most quotable rap hit in years, and Hit-Boy’s beat is already an all-time hip-hop classic. The fact that it features two of the most iconic rappers of all time is just gravy.
6. Robyn, “Dancing On My Own”
“Dancing On My Own” wasn’t a major chart hit, but it’s one of those tunes that keeps getting more popular and beloved over time. This makes sense, since it’s basically the best dancing-while-feeling-sorry-for-yourself pop song ever. As long as people have unrequited crushes, this song will feel fresh.
7. Fun. featuring Janelle Monaé, “We Are Young”
Here’s another song that is perfect for karaoke, especially if you want to show off and get very sentimental. This is also an all-purpose “we are feeling triumphant!” song, and there’s actually not that many rock bands outside of Queen who have a lot of tunes that are useful in that way.
8. Lady Gaga, “Bad Romance”
Lady Gaga could totally mess up the rest of her career, and no matter what, “Bad Romance” will always be a song that gets people very excited. It’s her anthem, and she can basically dine out on it for the rest of her life.
9. Nicki Minaj, “Super Bass”
Nicki Minaj has a handful of songs that will be with us for a long time, but “Super Bass” is the song that pretty much everyone from cynical hip-hop obsessives to tiny little kids can agree on. It is never going away.
10. Florence + The Machine, “Dog Days Are Over”
Florence + The Machine have a lot of hits for a band with only two albums — and that’s not even counting Florence Welch’s work outside of the group — but their breakthrough single is the one that is a guaranteed classic. It’s the first truly great gospel song of the 21st century.
11. Katy Perry, “Teenage Dream”
Katy Perry has at least six songs that are so hugely popular that they are basically immortal. Of those songs, “Teenage Dream” is probably the best, and certainly the one most likely to get a wide range of people to go “oh my god, I love that song!” when they hear it randomly on the radio or at a party.
12. Bruno Mars, “Locked Out of Heaven”
Bruno Mars’ greatest talent is finding a way to make music that is both extremely retro and very modern in a way that appeals to young kids and their parents. He’s the Pixar of pop music, basically, and “Locked Out of Heaven” is his Finding Nemo.
13. Jay Z and Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind”
Every generation gets the sentimental “New York City is the greatest city in the world!!!” song it deserves.
14. Avicii, “Levels”
As with Skrillex, this Avicii song wasn’t ever a major Top 40 hit, but it’s basically the anthem of the EDM movement, and will always be played whenever people want to remind you of that cultural moment. It’s the kind of song that people will hear in 20 years and feel intense waves of joyful nostalgia.
15. Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
Lady Antebellum’s crossover hit about booty calls is one of those songs that will get played on adult contemporary radio stations forever, and it will be one that you hear in a dentist’s office or pharmacy and have that moment where you’re like, “Wow, that’s a lot better than I remember it being.”
16. Icona Pop featuring Charli XCX, “I Love It”
As long as there are drunk girls who don’t give a fuck, this song will be there.
17. Kanye West, “Power”
Kanye has a lot of songs that are going to stand the test of time — his entire body of work is going to be canonized by critics for all eternity — but “Power” will be one of his most famous singles because it’s the ultimate expression of his tormented ego, and that’s how we’ll always remember him. Every superhero needs his theme music.
18. Carly Rae Jepsen, “Call Me Maybe”
This is a perfect pop song, and we’ll never get it out of our collective heads. We should be fine with this.
19. Phoenix, “1901”
This song is going to be the 2000s equivalent of all those great-but-relatively-obscure-in-their-time new wave songs that always get played on ’80s weekends on radio stations, and you’re always like, “Yeah, that song! All right!”
20. Rihanna, “We Found Love”
Rihanna has a bazillion hits and at least half of them are going to be famous forever, but “We Found Love” is going to go down as one of her signature hits.
21. Cee Lo Green, “Fuck You”
You can’t find Cee Lo Green’s original recording of “Fuck You” on SoundCloud, but you can find seemingly thousands of covers and remixes of it. It’s well on its way to becoming the most foul-mouthed standard of all time.
22. Adele, “Rollin’ in the Deep”
Adele’s 21 sold over 10 million copies in the United States alone in a time when it’s a miracle to sell even 500,000. “Rolling in the Deep,” the album’s biggest hit, is a sure shot for longevity if just because of that, but the fierce post-breakup sentiment means it will always have utility. This is basically the new “I Will Survive.”