We all have that one song that comes on Spotify or at a random local cafe that makes us stop in our tracks, flashing back to the gymnasium of our high school in the midst of a school dance. It’s safe to say that universally, our favorite throwback songs are the ones that bring back memories of our worst times, our teenage years, and make us grateful that we aren’t currently going through puberty.
Just like the feeling of getting the rubber bands changed on your braces, you’ve probably forgotten about a lot of those throwback songs. Which is pretty sad and ironic, considering there was a time not so long ago when these jams were so popular you couldn’t wait for them to stop playing on the radio, let alone get them out of your head. To bring back your most mortifying teenage nostalgia, here are 20 throwback songs you probably forgot about!
1. Tonight, Tonight – Hot Chelle Rae
This hit is one of the most high energy throwback songs of the 2010s, but basically dropped off the face of the earth after its course. Tonight, Tonight was Hot Chelle Rae’s only serious banger, but it served its purpose nonetheless! If you give it a listen, though, it’ll be stuck in your head for weeks, and there is no way to prevent that.
2. Price Tag – Jessie J
Jessie J has dished out some of the most impressive vocals this century has seen, and Price Tag was the British singer’s first major song in the U.S., which took 2011 by storm. This super catchy jam was on the radio 24/7, and served as everyone’s feel-good song of 2011.
3. Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO
This song was nonstop. And then it stopped. LMFAO gave middle school and high school students alike their ultimate school dance hype song with 2011’s Party Rock Anthem. And if this song came on the radio, you knew it was time to dance your ass off.
4. Bulletproof – La Roux
If you were into TeenNick, Bulletproof dominated those commercial breaks for a good year or so, and its music video was something that kept us from changing the channel. English band La Roux made their mark with this jam, which led to a Grammy win in 2009. But that was like, it. Beyond the super catchy Bulletproof, La Roux’s music didn’t really go anywhere. But who cares. That song slaps.
5. When You Look Me In The Eyes – Jonas Brothers
Although the family trio reunited with the release of Sucker in 2019, Nick, Kevin, and Joe disbanded their musical group in 2013 to focus on their individual lives. But before that, they cranked out some major bops that had every preteen shaking. And When You Look Me In The Eyes was no exception.
I urge you to watch the dreamy music video ASAP. The black and white, fourth wall-breaking shots will bring back countless memories of imagining yourself as the love of your fave’s life, and you might even relive some of those feels.
6. Umbrella – Rihanna
Umbrella is a classic song of our generation. It’s one of those throwback songs that comes on the radio and you somehow know every single word, even if you haven’t heard it in years. Plus, if you run out to listen to this jam right now, you’ll be shitting yourself at how much RiRi has grown up since its release! She’s truly the baddest bitch alive.
7. LoveGame – Lady Gaga
When you found out what a “disco stick” is, admit it: you were shook. LoveGame is probably the best of Lady Gaga’s throwback songs and, to this day, is an insanely genius club track. She established herself as the queen of the club with this hit, which totally took the 2010s to new heights in music.
8. Airplanes -B.o.B.
B.o.B.’s smash hit featured Paramore’s Hayley Williams, and every human alive knew all the lyrics when this song came out. But like our other throwback songs, Airplanes got lost in the shuffle after running its course on the charts. Regardless, it’s sure to bring back tons of nostalgia with each listen. And if you still know all the words to its rap, you’re cooler than most people.
9. Animal – Neon Trees
Animal pretty much sums up 2010. It’s fast, it’s alternative, and it’s intense. Neon Trees were basically royalty of the decade, but their musical presence lost mainstream momentum after this song fell out of popularity. That doesn’t change the fact that you got hella excited when Animal popped up on your pink chrome iPod shuffle, though.
10. I Kissed A Girl – Katy Perry
I Kissed A Girl was all the rage when it dropped in 2008, making Katy Perry an overnight sensation. With so many chart toppers since then, though, the singer’s debut single for her second album has gotten largely lost in the shuffle, but is still one of her best.
What really launched I Kissed A Girl into the spotlight was the fact that Katy got her start as a Christian rock musician, and the message of this sexy hit certainly shook her home base. Listen to it knowing that tidbit of information and you’ll realize it’s truly one of the best throwback songs out there.
11. Chill Murray – Young Science
This fast paced throwback dropped in 2012, but rose to fame when it leaked over footage of an alleged One Direction single, leading the boy band’s fan base to assume it was their new release – not Young Science’s. But we’re grateful for this instance of trolling, because it brought back an otherwise forgotten hit!
12. Ho Hey – The Lumineers
Talk about overplayed…The Lumineers’ Ho Hey was on the radio day in and day out at its prime. From YouTube ukulele covers to mainstream TV commercials, this song got traction because it was used for literally everything. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s an objectively good song, but if someone popped this on while it was still chart topping, your eyes probably rolled to the back of your head.
13. Like A G6 – Far East Movement
Okay. We’ve got a lot to think about with this song. The music video looks like it was shot in someone’s basement, for starters. Also, Far East Movement apparently didn’t know what a “G6” was until after the song was written. Aside from providing us with some of the cringiest lyrics ever, Like A G6 was every preteen’s must-listen song when they were feeling like a bad ass.
14. Forget You – Cee Lo Green
If you told us a decade ago that this song would be long gone by now, we would’ve laughed in your face. But here we are, 10 years later, and I don’t know about you but I haven’t heard Forget You on the radio or anywhere else in a long ass time.
The clean version of Cee Lo’s Fuck You took over the world right when it came out, and held on for a while. And man, was this bop catchy. But after serving its purpose, it disappeared into the musical chasm of the 2010s. Sigh.
15. As Long As You Love Me – Justin Bieber
This was one of the Biebs’ edgiest songs in its day, but the music video still has me swooning. Featuring Big Sean, As Long As You Love Me was a sexy step away from Justin’s bubblegum pop-y shit, which dominated his career before the release of his smash album “Believe.”
Go listen to this song. Even though it gets overshadowed by some of his other, cringier throwback songs, As Long As You Love Me is legitimately good.
16. We Are Young – fun.
fun. was a group for the edgy, quirky music listener, and We Are Young undoubtedly embodied this image. The abrupt pace change halfway through the song was somewhere between a drinking song and a nostalgic send off for a high school graduate. Either way, We Are Young both lived and died in 2012.
17. Beautiful Soul – Jesse McCartney
Jesse McCartney’s Beautiful Soul seemed like everyone’s everything when it came out, and then dominated Disney for like, the rest of time. Okay, more like 2004. But either way, Beautiful Soul put Jesse on the map, along with the public’s need for a cry-your-eyes-out song by an absolute heartthrob. There will never be any song that amounts to this. Listen to it right now.
18. Dance, Dance – Fall Out Boy
I get energy thinking about this iconic emo number, which I somehow know every single word to. Fall Out Boy put out amazing bops for the hardcore Hot Topic-goers of the early 2000s, and Dance, Dance is no exception. This song pops the fuck off and will make your emo heart feel something for the first time in a long time. But be cautious, because you might even grow scene hair and winged eyeliner by the time the chorus hits.
19. What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction
I can’t. I just can’t. If you were a Directioner (or still are, because you never really leave the fandom, do you?), What Makes You Beautiful isn’t a throwback – it’s an essential song that you listen to regularly. However, for most people, this song was considered overwhelming and annoying when it was released in 2012, but if you listen to it almost a decade later, you’ll probably feel warm and fuzzies…or at least some type of nostalgia.
If you were insecure about how you looked, What Makes You Beautiful gave you hope in the form of five adorable boys. Go watch the music video ASAP for some feels, and probably a good hearty laugh at how young they were.
20. You Belong With Me – Taylor Swift
If you didn’t cry to this song while looking at a picture of your out-of-reach crush, did you even live in 2008? Every middle schooler was deeply touched by this sad girl anthem, which was one of Taylor Swift’s first major ballads.
You Belong With Me gave all of us the opportunity to embrace our weird, nerdy vibes and feel at least a drop of hope that our crush would notice us over the popular girl despite our flaws. Even though mine never did.