12 Songs That Became Very Popular Way After They Were First Released

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Music has a remarkable way of seeping into our lives, soundtracking moments big and small. But sometimes, a song needs time to find its audience. In this exploration, we’re revisiting a dozen songs that took the scenic route to popularity.

These tracks, far from instant hits, grew slowly in listeners’ hearts and eventually became era-defining anthems. They prove that a song’s journey can be as unpredictable and beautiful as the melody.

‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ by Brenda Lee

12 Songs That Became VERY Popular Way After They Were First Released
MCA Records via Wikimedia Commons

 It is a classic that gained little popularity after its release in 1958. However, with its infectious energy and Lee’s vibrant voice, the song gradually climbed the charts.

Today, it has become a beloved holiday hit and a timeless symbol of Christmas joy that resonates worldwide. Its journey to fame is a testament to the enduring power of a great melody.

‘Cruel Summer’ Taylor Swift

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minds-eye via Wikimedia Commons

This song, brimming with raw emotions and poetic lyricism, encapsulates the bitter-sweet agony of a summer romance. It’s a rollercoaster ride of love, heartache, and longing wrapped in Swift’s enchanting melodies.

In classic Swift style, its late recognition only reminds us that exquisite art often takes time to appreciate genuinely.

‘Running Up That Hill’ by Kate Bush

12 Songs That Became VERY Popular Way After They Were First Released
Photo by Emalia

Initially released in 1985, the track gained little popularity. However, its haunting melody and introspective lyrics slowly captivated listeners.

Exploring the gender divide and human longing for understanding, the song eventually earned a place in popular culture. Its enduring popularity showcases Bush’s unique musical vision, proving true artistry transcends time.

‘Heat Waves’ Glass Animals

12 Songs That Became VERY Popular Way After They Were First Released
Raph_PH via Wikimedia Commons

Initially sneaking into our playlists in 2020, the track began as a subtle whisper before transforming into a roaring anthem, gaining unprecedented popularity months after its release.

The song’s sad yet catchy tune, underpinned by lyrical profundity, captures a unique blend of emotion and energy, resonating with listeners worldwide.

‘A Holly Jolly Christmas’ Burl Ives

12 Songs That Became VERY Popular Way After They Were First Released
Photo by ABC Photo Archives

Initially released in 1964 for the movie “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” this cheerful tune didn’t top the charts immediately. However, its nostalgic undercurrents gradually touched the hearts of listeners, making it a beloved holiday tradition.

Today, Burl Ives’ warm vocals and joyful lyrics create an idyllic picture of the holiday season that resonates worldwide.

‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ by Mariah Carey

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U.S. Air Force via Wikimedia Commons

Released in 1994, the song gained popularity over time, like a gift waiting under the tree. Now, it’s synonymous with Christmas, igniting hearts with its catchy rhythm and soulful chorus. A modern classic, it reminds us of the true magic of the season – being surrounded by loved ones, not materialistic desires.

The Time Magazine reviewed this song as one that elevates the Christmas mood. They reported that the song’s seemingly magic ability to put you in a festive holiday mood is actually because of its dulcet harmony, which contains at least 13 distinct chords

‘Truth Hurts’ Lizzo

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Photo Credit:Lennon Photography via Canva

Music has a magical way of captivating us, and Lizzo’s ‘Truth Hurts’ is a prime example. Initially overlooked in 2017, this track gained momentum with its mighty voice and authentic lyrics.

Two years later, it soared to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, showcasing Lizzo’s talent and universal appeal.

‘Lights’ by Ellie Goulding

12 Songs That Became VERY Popular Way After They Were First Released
Moiyeah via Wikimedia Commons

 Initially released in 2010, this song didn’t immediately resonate and seemed destined to fade into obscurity. However, like a phoenix, “Lights” rose from its ashes two years later, topping the Billboard Hot 100 and securing its place in pop culture.

Its journey is a testament to the surprises in music and life, proving that a song can capture hearts worldwide at anytime.

‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ The Proclaimers

12 Songs That Became VERY Popular Way After They Were First Released
Michiel1972 via Wikimedia Commons

Initially released in 1988, the track started in the UK but failed in the US. However, its infectious energy couldn’t be contained.

When the song was featured in the 1993 movie ‘Benny & Joon,’ it finally took flight in the States, gaining a new legion of fans captivated by its heartfelt lyrics and the Proclaimers’ storytelling.

‘What a Wonderful World’ Louis Armstrong

12 Songs That Became VERY Popular Way After They Were First Released
World-Telegram via Wikimedia Commons

Sung in Armstrong’s soothing and raspy voice, the song provided solace during the civil rights movement. Over time, its message of hope and unity resonated worldwide, turning it into the beloved classic we know today.

With Armstrong’s authentic and optimistic view of life, the song reminds us of the timeless beauty surrounding us, increasingly relevant as the years pass.”

‘I Am Woman’ Helen Reddy

12 Songs That Became VERY Popular Way After They Were First Released
Francesco Scoville via Wikimedia Commons

Released in 1971, the song gained popularity a year later during the women’s rights movement. Reddy’s emotional vocals and anthem-like lyrics resonated deeply, transforming the song into a rallying cry for women seeking equality.

Its belated popularity reflects the timeless relevance of its message in popular music.

‘Strange Fruit’ Billie Holiday

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William P. Gottlieb/Wikimedia Commons

Initially a poem by Abel Meeropol, Holiday transformed it into a poignant musical piece depicting racial violence. Despite its release in 1939, the song gained mainstream recognition years later.

With its profoundly emotive depiction of social injustice and Holiday’s soulful performance, “Strange Fruit” became a pivotal anthem in the civil rights movement.

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  • Grace

    Grace combines her legal education with her interests in art, travel, history, writing, and nature to produce well-rounded and engaging content.

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