20 vintage songs that topped the charts again over a decade later

Music trends over the last 10 years have one thing in common: a tendency toward nostalgia and an undeniably retro bent, both in music currently being created and through older songs that have been given new life decades later. Throwback sounds have dominated music awards and Billboard charts alike—from Dua Lipa’s record-shattering 2020 track “Levitating” (from her aptly named album “Future Nostalgia”) to Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak’s 2022 Grammys sweep as the duo Silk Sonic.

Songs from the past have also recently returned to the charts, largely due to the influence of TikTok virality. Some in the industry have called TikTok “the new MTV,” amplifying the reach of older hits and setting trends using both audio and visual media—so much so that labels have become hyperfocused on marketing their music to the social media giant.

But older songs getting a second—or even a third—life on the charts is not exactly a new phenomenon. Besides TikTok, other factors, like a musician’s death or the use of a song in a popular film or television show, have renewed attention to hits of the past.

When David Bowie died in 2016, for instance, his Spotify streams increased by 2,822% globally. Michael Jackson’s posthumous career has included over 16.1 million albums sold and billions of streams. Meanwhile, the meteoric ascent of Kate Bush’s 1985 song “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” after being featured on the fourth season of “Stranger Things” in 2022 is one of many recent examples of a song being catapulted back onto the charts from movies and TV.

To commemorate times when past hits became contemporary favorites, Stacker looked to Billboard and found 20 songs that resurfaced on one of its several major charts at least a decade after their original release. Most of the songs were Billboard Hot 100 chart-toppers when they debuted, but some tracks weren’t popular until their late discovery.

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Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley perform at microphone.
Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

‘Unchained Melody’ by The Righteous Brothers

– Original release year: 1965
– Comeback year: 1990

Originally written for a small-budget 1955 prison film “Unchained,” three versions of “Unchained Melody” by three artists landed in the top 10 songs of that year. When the Righteous Brothers recorded their authoritative version of the song in 1965, it returned to the top of the charts, reaching #4 on the Hot 100.

Over two decades later, “Unchained Melody” reached new prominence when it was featured in the iconic pottery wheel scene of the Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore film “Ghost.” In 1990, the year of the film’s release, the song again found itself on the Hot 100—the original Righteous Brothers’ recording charting at #13, and the version rerecorded for the film at #19. Other song versions have been recorded by artists like Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, She & Him, and Lena Horne.

Ben E. King performs at the Apollo Theater.
Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

‘Stand by Me’ by Ben E. King

– Original release year: 1961
– Comeback year: 1986

Ben E. King’s iconic song was inspired by the gospel hymn “Lord Stand by Me.” King’s version, “Stand by Me,” rose to the top of the charts in 1961, claiming the #4 spot on the Hot 100.

Over 20 years later, the song resurfaced on the charts after the 1986 Rob Reiner-directed film “Stand by Me.” The film featured King’s song on its soundtrack and borrowed its name—the movie was originally going to be titled “The Body,” the name of the Stephen King story on which it is based. After the film’s release, “Stand By Me” hit #9 on the Hot 100.

Studio portrait of The Contours.
Gilles Petard/Redferns // Getty Images

‘Do You Love Me’ by The Contours

– Original release year: 1962
– Comeback year: 1987

Motown founder Berry Gordy wrote and produced “Do You Love Me,” which was originally intended for the Temptations. After the group couldn’t be located, the Contours recorded the song, which became a smash hit. “Do You Love Me” reached #3 on the Hot 100 in 1962.

The song, which references popular dances of the early ’60s like the Mashed Potato and the Twist, was featured decades later in the 1987 film “Dirty Dancing.” The track plays as Baby (Jennifer Grey) walks into the staff quarters carrying a watermelon and sees everyone dancing. The film’s popularity sent “Do You Love Me” to #11 on the Hot 100.

The Beatles perform onstage.
Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

‘Twist and Shout’ by The Beatles

– Original release year: 1963
– Comeback year: 1986

Though “Twist and Shout” was not originally written by the Beatles—it was initially penned by Phil Medley and Bert Berns and recorded by the Top Notes—the Fab Four’s version quickly took the world by storm.

“Twist and Shout” peaked at #2 on the Hot 100 in 1964 but came back in 1986 after being featured in two films that year: “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” during the iconic parade scene, and Rodney Dangerfield’s comedy “Back to School.” That year, the song returned to the Hot 100 at #23.

Louis Armstrong with microphone.
David Redfern/Redferns // Getty Images

‘What a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong

– Original release year: 1967
– Comeback year: 1988

The now-ubiquitous Louis Armstrong classic “What a Wonderful World” didn’t originally get much airplay in the U.S. Larry Newton, who owned ABC Records, tried to intervene in its recording and refused to promote it when it was released. In other countries, however, the song was successful, reaching #1 in the U.K. and parts of Europe.

In 1988, “What a Wonderful World” finally reached American audiences when it was featured in the 1987 Robin Williams film “Good Morning, Vietnam.” It peaked at #32 on the Hot 100 that year.

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Freddie Mercury and Queen perform live.
Fin Costello/Redferns // Getty Images

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen

– Original release year: 1975
– Comeback years: 1992, 2018

Queen’s six-minute epic “Bohemian Rhapsody” subverted expectations about what a hit single had sounded like at the time: simple, three minutes long, with a catchy chorus. Radio DJs in the U.K. and the U.S. played the song continuously, contributing to its popularity. The song reached #9 on the Hot 100 and topped the charts in the U.K. in 1975.

In 1992, the opening scene of the Mike Myers film “Wayne’s World” featured a full three minutes of the song—a scene that reportedly had Freddie Mercury’s approval. Coinciding with Mercury’s death in 1991, the song reentered the U.S. charts and blew past its previous record, peaking at #2. In 2018, “Bohemian Rhapsody” charted for a third time with the release of the award-winning Mercury biopic of the same name.

Stevie Nicks performing on stage with Fleetwood Mac.
Richard E. Aaron/Redferns // Getty Images

‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac

– Original release year: 1977
– Comeback year: 2020

“Dreams” was written by Stevie Nicks during an infamously tumultuous time for Fleetwood Mac and was released as a single from their acclaimed 1977 album “Rumours.” The song was an instant hit, reaching #1 on the Hot 100.

In 2020, the song unexpectedly rose to the top of the charts again after being featured in a viral TikTok. The video showed a man named Nathan Apodaca skateboarding down a highway while drinking cranberry juice and had been viewed 86.3 million times as of July 2022. The viral video boosted streams of “Dreams” by 88.7% within two days of being posted.

David Bowie performing live.
Hulton Archive // Getty Images

‘Under Pressure’ by Queen and David Bowie

– Original release year: 1981
– Comeback years: 2018, 2019

Queen and David Bowie joined forces to create “Under Pressure” while working on separate projects in the Swiss Alps. Their joint hit song was made using much improvisation, and Bowie and Mercury recorded separate vocal tracks of how they thought the melody should sound.

“Under Pressure” reached #29 on the Hot 100 in 1981 and remained on the chart for 16 weeks. The song initially returned to the charts in 2016 after Bowie’s death and for a third time in 2018 after the “Bohemian Rhapsody” film soundtrack bolstered Queen’s greatest hits to the top of the charts.

Michael Jackson performs in concert.
Kevin Mazur/WireImage // Getty Images

‘Billie Jean’ by Michael Jackson

– Original release year: 1983
– Comeback year: 2009

When it was released in 1983, “Billie Jean” rose to #1 on the Hot 100, which also helped boost Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album to the top of the charts. The song’s music video was also influential; the appearance of “Billie Jean” on MTV was one of the first times a Black act was featured on the network.

The song reentered the charts in 2009 after Jackson’s death, appearing at #4 on the Billboard Hot Digital Songs chart. It surfaced a third time in 2014 after a viral video of a high schooler dancing to the song brought the track to #14 on the Hot 100.

Prince performing live.
Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

‘Purple Rain’ by Prince and The Revolution

– Original release year: 1984
– Comeback year: 2016

Originally intended as a country tune for Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, Prince eventually recorded the iconic “Purple Rain” himself live with his band during a concert in Minneapolis. The song topped the charts at #2 on the Hot 100 after its release in 1984. The same year, Prince released his legendary musical film “Purple Rain,” in which he also starred. After his unexpected death in 2016, “Purple Rain” again rose to the top of the charts, with his “Purple Rain” soundtrack album claiming the #2 spot on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.

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Kennedy William Gordy, better known by his stage name Rockwell.
Aaron Rapoport/Corbis // Getty Images

‘Somebody’s Watching Me’ by Rockwell

– Original release year: 1984
– Comeback year: 2021

“Somebody’s Watching Me” featured Rockwell’s family friends, Michael and Jermaine Jackson, on backup vocals. Rockwell, also known as Kennedy Gordy, was the son of Motown founder Berry Gordy but didn’t receive help recording the song from his father, who reportedly wasn’t impressed by the demo. “Somebody’s Watching Me” reached #2 on the Hot 100 in 1984 and #42 in 2021 after a Halloween-themed TikTok trend used the song.

Michael Jackson performs on stage.
Pete Still/Redferns // Getty Images

‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson

– Original release year: 1984
– Comeback years: 2009, 2021

Thanks to its creepy sound effects, zombie-themed music video, and voiceover work from horror film icon Vincent Price, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” has become a Halloween classic and has consistently entered the Hot 100 in the fall for many years. But when it was first released, the song was one of seven singles from the “Thriller” album to break into the top 10 of the Hot 100, peaking at #4. The album has also become the biggest seller of all time, according to Billboard.

After Jackson died in 2009, “Thriller” rose to #2 on Billboard’s Digital Song Sales chart. The song reached its highest placement on the Hot 100 since its original release in 2021, thanks to a Halloween TikTok trend that combined “Thriller” with Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me.” 2023 marked the sixth consecutive year in which the Halloween hit “Thriller” has reentered the Hot 100.

Kate Bush performing ‘Running up that Hill’.
ZIK Images/United Archives via Getty Images

‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)’ by Kate Bush

– Original release year: 1985
– Comeback year: 2022

Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” made headlines in June 2022 after its inclusion in the fourth season of the Netflix series “Stranger Things” led to its record-breaking resurgence on the charts.

The synth-pop song peaked at #30 on the Hot 100 when it was originally released on her 1985 “Hounds of Love” album. Thirty-seven years later, the song beat its previous record, coming in at #4 on the Hot 100 and #1 on Billboard’s Global 200, surprising Bush herself with the level of enthusiasm from both older and younger generations.

Whitney Houston performing live.
Georges De Keerle // Getty Images

‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)’ by Whitney Houston

– Original release year: 1987
– Comeback year: 2012

Whitney Houston’s iconic dance-pop anthem spent two weeks at the top spot on the Hot 100 after its release in 1987. The song followed three consecutive hit #1 Hot 100 singles from her debut album. Following Houston’s death in February 2012, the song returned to the charts, peaking at #25 on the Hot 100 and a couple of other former chart-toppers: “I Will Always Love You” and “Greatest Love of All.”

Aly and A.J. perform.
Larry Marano // Getty Images

‘Potential Breakup Song’ by Aly & AJ

– Original release year: 2007
– Comeback year: 2020

The Disney-famous sisters Aly & AJ made a name for themselves for acting in film and television, as well as through their music. “Potential Breakup Song” was released in 2007 on their third album, “Insomniatic,” and peaked at #17 on the Hot 100.

The song, originally released for Disney’s preteen audience, was repopularized in 2020 after going viral on TikTok. The sisters released an explicit version of the song in late 2020, replacing some of the Disney-appropriate language with more mature content. This prompted nostalgic and delighted reactions from (now-adult) fans. The song reached #8 on Billboard’s Digital Song Sales chart in 2020.

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The Cramps perform at King's College.
David Corio/Redferns // Getty Images

‘Goo Goo Muck’ by The Cramps

– Original release year: 1981
– Comeback year: 2022

This twangy rockabilly song by the Cramps, released in 1981 on their second album, “Psychedelic Jungle.” “Goo Goo Muck,” originally written and performed by Ronnie Cook and the Gaylads in 1962, did not achieve mainstream success upon its release. The Cramps’ version, with its distinctive punk rock twist, became a cult favorite among fans of the genre, but it did not chart. In 2022, the song experienced a resurgence in popularity, particularly through its inclusion in the Netflix series “Wednesday,” where it was featured in a memorable dance scene. This renewed interest introduced “Goo Goo Muck” to a broader audience and revitalized its status as a punk rock classic.

Jim Morrison performs onstage at Town Hall.
Jack Rosen // Getty Images

‘The End’ by The Doors

– Original release year: 1967
– Comeback year: 1979

“The End” is a nearly 12-minute epic rock song by the Doors, written by Jim Morrison and released in 1967 on their debut album. The song, known for its dark, psychedelic sound and controversial Oedipal lyrics, originally did not receive significant radio play or chart success. However, its inclusion in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film “Apocalypse Now” brought it back into the public eye, earning it new recognition and a lasting association with the film’s intense imagery. The song is now considered one of the Doors’ masterpieces, often praised for its haunting atmosphere and poetic depth. Its place in rock history was solidified through its later critical acclaim and enduring popularity.

Iggy Pop and David Bowie performing on stage.
Richard McCaffrey/Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

‘Lust for Life’ by Iggy Pop

– Original release year: 1977
– Comeback year: 1996

Released in 1977, “Lust for Life” is a song by rock ‘n’ roll heavy-weight Iggy Pop and the title track of his album co-written with David Bowie. Despite its initial release, the song did not chart highly, although it was critically acclaimed and became a defining track of Iggy Pop’s career. The song gained renewed popularity in the 1990s after being prominently featured in the film “Trainspotting,” which helped introduce it to a new generation. Its energetic beat and catchy chorus have since made it a staple in pop culture, appearing in various films and commercials. This resurgence cemented “Lust for Life” as one of Iggy Pop’s most recognizable songs.

Anwar Hussein/WireImage // Getty Images

‘Candle in the Wind’ by Elton John

– Original release year: 1973
– Comeback year: 1997

This song’s enduring legacy is marked by its emotional connection to both Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana. “Candle in the Wind” is a song by Elton John with lyrics by Bernie Taupin, originally written in 1973 as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe. The original version appeared on John’s album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and reached #11 on the UK Singles Chart. In 1997, following the death of Princess Diana, John performed a revised version of the song at her funeral, with the new lyrics becoming an international hit. The 1997 version, titled “Candle in the Wind 1997,” became one of the best-selling singles of all time, topping charts worldwide—with a 14-week run atop the Hot 100—and deeply resonating with a global audience.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor performs on stage during OUTLOUD Music Festival.
Amy Sussman // Getty Images

‘Murder on the Dancefloor’ by Sophie Ellis-Bextor

– Original release year: 2001
– Comeback year: 2024

“Murder on the Dancefloor” is an energetic disco-inspired pop song by British singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Released in 2001, it was originally included on her debut studio album, “Read My Lips.” The song became a significant commercial success, peaking at #2 on the UK Singles Chart and reaching the top 10 in numerous countries across Europe and Australia.

Its infectious melody and memorable lyrics helped it gain substantial radio airplay and become a dancefloor staple. In 2023, “Saltburn,” the dark comedy thriller starring Barry Keoghan, reintroduced the track to the mainstream with a twisted nude dance scene—unexpectedly catapulting the song to #98 on the Hot 100.

Story editing by Cynthia Rebolledo. Copy editing by Paris Close.

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