40 Best Nostalgic Songs of All Time (Nostalgic Music)

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Written By Will Fenton

Founder of MidderMusic. From numerous bands to stints working in music shops, read more about me on the 'Here's My Story' page!

There are few better experiences than listening to soulful songs that relive special memories. 

It’s even better with a catchy beat, poignant lyrics, and a powerful message. 

It doesn’t matter if you are recalling your childhood memories or your first love, nostalgic music will always match the mood. 

The list below contains the 40 best nostalgic songs of all time. 

We’ve compiled a collection of pop, soul, rock, country, and folk songs to help you reminisce about that joyful smile (or tears of pain) from 10, 20, or 30 years ago.  

Table of Contents

1. “Somewhere I Belong” by Linkin Park

Unfortunately, we kickstart our list with a sad song about loneliness.

We’ve all experienced life struggles. 

And sometimes, sadness becomes the norm when we remember the past. 

Linkin Park’s song talks about the pain of being alone in a lonely place. 

In this situation, the best you can do is forget everything and move on.  

2. “One Day” by LMFAO

The narrator in LMFAO’s song is doing everything to win this one woman over. 

He sees her as a potential lover and hopes his efforts will pay off. 

The song captures the whole adventure. 

3. “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran

Let’s talk about the power of love because everyone has experienced it at least once in their lifetime.

Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” brings back the nostalgia of falling in love.

In the song, a simple bar hookup becomes a potential relationship.

And before it’s too long, Sheeran forthrightly affirms that he is in love with the addressee’s body. 

He documents everything in this song, remembering how fast things evolve when you find a matching partner. 

4. “Hello” by Lionel Richie

As a young boy, Lionel Richie was too shy to talk to the beautiful women in the neighborhood.

And his nostalgic song brings out those memories, especially about this one lady he was deeply attracted to.

Lionel has everything set, even creating a perfect pickup line in his head.

But he is just too shy to make his feelings known. 

So, he’ll keep postponing it till next time. 

Come on, Richie, just make a move.

5. “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen

The protagonist in Carly Rae Jepsen’s song is the exact opposite of Lionel Richie in “Hello” above. 

Here, the narrator makes the first move after crushing on this guy.

She gives him her phone number, hoping that he will call her. 

Unfortunately, the guy isn’t interested. 

It is a classic case of love at first sight gone wrong. 

But we can’t blame the narrator for trying. 

6. “Umbrella” by Rihanna

Metaphorically, the umbrella in Rihanna’s song alludes to protection.

Here, the singer assures her lover that he can rely on her for support and protection in good and bad times. 

That’s the affirmation you need from a special someone. 

And Ree brings out such emotions in this song. 

7. “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion

My Heart Will Go On” is a song that takes everyone to a romantic place.

Everybody recalls it from the Titanic movie.

And the affirmation of romance in the lyrics makes it a must-listen if you want to bring back old memories. 

Its association with the quintessential romantic movie makes it one of the best songs that give you nostalgia.

8. “Remember When” by Alan Jackson

Alan Jackson’s “Remember When” is a classic nostalgia song. 

As Jackson reflects on his life, he describes his relationship with his wife.

You won’t stop admiring their love story, from their single life to becoming teenage sweethearts, getting married, and raising children. 

9. “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye ft. Kimbra

Heartbreaks are tough to handle.

But the most painful part is finding the strength to move on. 

This tune sums up the same feelings after two people fall out of a relationship. 

One party has moved on and is ready for a fresh start.

But the other still can’t accept the reality. 

If you’ve experienced a broken relationship before, you will find the lyrics quite relatable. 

10. “I Just Called To Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder

The thing with breakups is that one party will always cling to the memories for as long as they are alive. 

And when Stevie Wonder finds himself in that situation, he calls his ex-lover to share a simple message.

That he still loves her.

Moving on after a broken relationship can be painful. 

And the nostalgic feeling of the shared memories makes the experience even more painful. 

11. “Someone Like You” by Adele

Another case of a broken relationship.

Adele shows up at her ex-lover’s door only to meet the shock of her life.

The guy has moved on and is happily married to a new woman. 

The narrator is disheartened and hopes to move on quickly. 

But at the same time, she wishes to find another man to make her feel special, just like her ex-lover did. 

12. “Royals” by Lorde

To all bragging rappers, Lorde has a message for you. 

She preaches humility and loathes the sumptuous lifestyle adopted by some artists. 

Lorde appreciates her roots and doesn’t want to lose herself in the opulent lifestyle.

13. “Not Afraid” by Eminem

Eminem’s song expresses a positive message about the courage to keep going.

The American rapper isn’t afraid to face life’s obstacles on his way to the top.

This is the first time we see the singer shift from his typical, whacky rapping style.

The song was a huge commercial success, selling more than 38,000 copies shortly after release and debuting at #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. 

14. “Without Me” by Halsey

Halsey’s song falls in the category of sad nostalgic songs about breakups

It hurts to give so much in a relationship only to see all your efforts betrayed.

Halsey talks about sacrificing everything to make the relationship work.

She always ignored all the negative thoughts.

Only for the guy to let her down when she needed him the most. 

She can’t stop wondering how the man feels now the relationship is over. 

We bet Halsey can’t be the only one to experience that situation.

15. “Rolling In The Deep” by Adele

Adele always comes to mind in any conversation about breakups and nostalgic songs. 

And this soulful song from the singer’s 21 album expresses heart-wrenching lyrics.

It is a clap back to her ex-lover after a broken relationship. 

16. “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz

In “I’m Yours,” Jason Mraz risks it all with new love. 

It describes that moment you decide to give love another try and get absorbed by the romantic waves. 

17. “All Of Me” by John Legend

New lovers know John Legend’s 2013 Grammy-winning R&B song

Nothing compares to the power of true love. 

And when you find the dream soul mate who brings out the best in you, this is the perfect song to dedicate to them. 

It’s also an excellent tune for reminiscing the good old days when you experienced the magical ride that is love. 

18. “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran’s romantic ballad is the perfect love story.

The song is about Ed’s girlfriend, who completes the singer’s world.  

The beautiful lyrics will surely take you to a place of joy and composure. 

And as you listen to the tune, you won’t stop thinking about what perfect love is all about. 

19. “Girls Like You” by Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B

Pop rock band Maroon 5 collaborated with Cardi B to give us a chart-topping hit in 2017.

“Girls Like You” is the perfect dedication for someone who’s been with you throughout the good and the bad times.

It’s even better when they hold a special place in your heart.

As you look at their beautiful face, you remember the countless obstacles you’ve overcome while remaining faithful to one another. 

At this point, we say, 24 hours isn’t enough with someone you love. 

20. “7 Years” by Lukas Graham

The Danish pop-soul band summarizes the stages of life in this song.

And they do so in just about 4 minutes.

They talk about the different phases of life while walking with the listeners from childhood to the end. 

21. “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith

Aerosmith’s song is one of those tunes that evoke emotions. 

And the title says it all. 

A theme of love takes center stage in the song. 

And the moving melody with carefully worded lyrics will take you back to the good old days when nothing made more sense than being in your lover’s arms. 

That’s where pure nostalgia comes in. 

22. “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor

The most important part of any breakup is moving on. 

Unfortunately, it’s also the most painful moment. 

Gloria Gaynor goes all carefree in this one while talking about freedom.

It’s the tune to bring your back to your senses after a painful breakup. 

Moments like these shape your life by putting your mental strength to the test.

23. “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston

Not all breakups have to be chaotic. 

Just as Whitney Houston tells us in her 1992 nostalgic pop song. 

Despite the tough breakup, Houston doesn’t harbor any ill feelings toward her ex-lover. 

She wishes him the best of luck and promises to cherish the wonderful memories. 

It’s a tune for those occasions when moving on appears inevitable, but you still want to carry the good memories. 

24. “Summer Of ’69” by Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams creates unique imagery in the listener’s mind with his nostalgic pop song.

It is a song that will instantly take you to youthful memories. 

Even though Adams has previously said the song is about the sex position, the lyrics fit just about any situation where the listener wants to relive fond memories. 

25. “In My Life” by The Beatles

“There are places I’ll remember/All my life, though some have changed/Some forever, not for better/Some have gone and some remain.”

John Lennon and the entire band members look back on their lives with the fondness of a kid. 

They remember their friends and loved ones from the past and can’t get over the nostalgic feeling. 

26. “Better Together” by Jack Johnson

Here’s a nostalgic song with a little bit of everything.

The singer uses imagery, paradox, and irony to express the power of love. 

It doesn’t matter how dark the days appear. 

Or how troubled your life is.

Everything gets better when you are with someone you love.

27. “Photograph” by Nickelback

Nickelback’s song is about reliving memories. 

A moving guitar sets the tone.

And as the lyrics continue, the narrator describes a particular photograph. 

A photograph that takes him back to the good old days. 

He recalls an ex-lover, his life at school, and memories of old friends. 

The lyrics are carefully written they will instantly take you back to the good old days.

28. “Yesterday” by The Beatles

The Beatles’ song is interpreted as a sad ballad about a broken relationship. 

The narrator can’t understand why the addressee chose to walk away. 

And in his sad life, he dreams of yesterday when everything was calm, and he was as happy as a king. 

29. “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Elvis Presley

When love sweeps Elvis Presley off his feet, he can’t resist compiling beautiful lyrics for a special someone. 

And his 1961 song would top any list of the best songs about love at first sight

He’s convinced that this is his ride-or-die, and nobody can tell him otherwise.

30. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana

Thanks to the catchy lyrics, this song is always associated with the youth.

It expresses the youthful tendency to experiment with anything and everything. 

Sometimes, that brings trouble.

But it is also a chance to explore life and what it means to be a teenager. 

Let’s just say it is a song about life experiences. 

31. “Take On Me” by a-ha

What happens when a shy guy approaches a romantic interest to try his luck?

He gets one pickup line and sticks to it.

The narrator settles for a simple “take on me” phrase to convince the potential lover to accept him. 

Of course, this is doomed to fail.

But our guy won’t quit without giving his best. 

32. “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry

Falling in love is every teenager’s dream. 

And Katy Perry’s song brings out those euphoric feelings of teenage lust, emotions, and infatuation. 

33. “Waterfalls” by TLC

Don’t go pursuing self-destructive behavior while disregarding the consequences.

That’s the American girl group’s message in their 1994 R&B song. 

It brings out different memories to warn the people against hasty decisions that could jeopardize their lives. 

34. “Crazy In Love” by Beyoncé

Love is driving Beyoncé crazy.

And she’s doing things she could never imagine just because of this special someone. 

This is the same feeling you’d have when you find your perfect soul mate. 

35. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds

The song’s lyrics match the title. 

And here, the narrator implores the addressee to never forget about him when they are apart. 

When distance separates two lovebirds, they can always cling to the wonderful memories they shared. 

36. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses

“Sweet Child O’ Mine” is a beautiful love anthem. 

Only Axl Rose’s poetic words portray him as a child reliving beautiful memories. 

The breakthrough single was released in 1988 and topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

37. “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence 

Evanescence announced their entry to the global music scene with a song that would quickly top multiple charts in five countries. 

The band leader, Amy Lee recalls that the song is about her abusive relationship with her now-husband, Josh Hartzler. 

The lyrics describe her memories at different stages of life, from the ups and downs of their relationship to earning a Grammy nomination at only 21. 

Amy knew she needed proper adjusting to accommodate the significant change in her life. 

And she did that perfectly. 

38. “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac

This is a song about life’s troubles and changes. 

And the narrator poses a series of rhetorical questions that will have you thinking hard about your life.

“Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?”

“Can the child within my heart rise above?”

“Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?”

“Can I handle the seasons of my life?”

Here’s our question for you.

“Can you compile a list of nostalgic songs without including this one?” 

39. “Stayin’ Alive” by Bee Gees

“Stayin’ Alive” is a song about pushing on when everything looks impossible. 

You can succeed if you have the willpower. 

And Bee Gees’ lyrics are there to help you develop the right mindset. 

Just make sure to play it on repeat and at least master the hand movements. 

40. “I Knew I Loved You” by Savage Garden

Let’s talk about your first love. 

What was the experience like?

For Savage Garden, there were no doubts in his mind that this would be his soul mate. 

He envisions spending the rest of his life with this special someone. 

This is the song to take you back to the very first time you tasted genuine love. 

Best Nostalgic Songs – Final Thoughts

Music is a powerful tool that relives memories. 

And good nostalgic songs are sure to evoke emotions, no matter your current situation in life. 

The top nostalgic songs combine nice beats, catchy melodies, and powerful lyrics.

But sometimes, the soulful lyrics from the world’s most decorated bands will make you want to shed a tear. 

We’ve revealed our list of the 40 best nostalgic songs of all time. 

So, create a perfect playlist today with songs that bring back long-gone moments.

Similar Playlists:

Best Songs of All Time 

Best Albums of All Time