There are a lot of songs out there that are complex and have subtle lyrics. Those are probably not the songs you forgot you know every single word to. Nope, the tracks that you're 100 percent clued-up on lyrics for probably boast some combination of simple words and an unforgettable rhythm, which means, more often than not, they're pop classics. So, if the thought that you're secretly word-perfect on pop so sweet that it gives you a toothache makes you uncomfortable, turn back now. It's not too late.
The genre aspect of the list isn't cast in iron though. There are also a few rap songs here, which felt counter-intuitive at first. After all, don't most rap songs have more words than a normal song, meaning it would be unlikely that the listener would be able to master the lyrics without giving it some attention? Hey, since listeners are probably engaging more with the words than the melody on a rap song than they'd do on a sung track, that could explain the reason there's way more rap than rock on this list.
Perhaps the most joyful aspect of the list below is that it suggests how good the average human memory is, even when it's not even trying to remember something. For proof, read on.
1"Call Me Maybe" By Carly Rae Jepsen
How could this song not be engraved into your brain, word for word? It's nursery rhyme simple and has the catchiest melody of all time. So, all together now: "I threw a wish in the well, don't ask me I'll never tell."
2"What Is Love" By Haddaway
While many friends of mine swear that they've never consciously listened to this song before, it's the sort of irresistible feel-good dance track that clubs, restaurants, and shops insist on blasting at full volume. As such, despite all of these people professing not to even know the name of Haddaway (blasphemy!), they can still croon "Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more" with the best of us.
3"The Thong Song" By Sisqó
"Thighs like what, what, what; baby move your butt, butt, butt" — oh so you do know every last word of the '90s least family-friendly tunes?
4"The Real Slim Shady" By Eminem
You've got this. Just switch your brain off and let the nostalgia take over: "I'm sick of you little girl and boy groups, all you do is annoy me, so I've been sent here to destroy you."
5"Livin' La Vida Loca" By Ricky Martin
How could anyone resist this hit? Given the fact that it's Kryptonite to anyone with a functioning pair of ears and, as such, that most people have listened to this a couple of hundred times, it's no wonder that even the lesser-known lines like "Woke up in New York City, in a funky cheap hotel" still emerge as if by magic from your lips.
6"It Wasn't Me" By Shaggy
This one's painful. Nobody wants to know a pro-infidelity anthem by heart. But trust me, you do. "I don't know what to do..." "Say it wasn't you."
7"Take On Me" By a-ha
"Take On Me" dropped in 1985, which makes it a mystery as to why it feels like everyone, from kids to grandparents, can sing along with such confidence. My theory is that it's a popular karaoke choice, which means people are exposed to it when they've already had a few beers and don't necessarily remember every song yowled at them that night. Then they'll hear it in a totally different setting and find, to their confusion, that they know every word.
8"Bye Bye Bye" By *NSYNC
Long before One Direction had even thought about auditioning for The X Factor, Justin, JC, Chris, Lance, and Joey were putting out the most excruciatingly addictive pop known to man. As such, while it's easy for those of us who grew up in the '00s to assume we spent our teenage years listening to The Strokes and The White Stripes, then this will come onto the radio and challenge that comfortable assumption.
9"Wannabe" By The Spice Girls
This one makes more sense. The clear call-and-answer refrain and the nicely divided parts so it's more conversation than song meant this was perfect for singing with friends in childhood and even more perfect as a karaoke go-to in adulthood.
10"Don't Stop Believin'" By Journey
I could swear I've never consciously, intentionally listened to this song. Perhaps you feel the same. But hit play and see if you're even a few words short. I doubt it.
11"Baby Got Back" By Sir Mix-A-Lot
Guaranteed lyrical delight. It's magical, because it's one of those hits where people think they only know the famous opening (the obnoxious girl talking about another woman with a large butt), but, when you hit play, they find the words flowing out of their mouths like you cast a spell on them.
12"Shake It Off" By Taylor Swift
I'd wager the reason why so many people would score 100 percent on a "Shake It Off" lyrics test is the repetition. It's those "'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play" and the "haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate" parts that cause it to become lodged in so many brains.
13"Uptown Girl" By Billy Joel
Billy Joel isn't exactly a millennial's musician of choice. But what he lacks in meme-ability, he more than compensates for with his song that has the average person "whooaaaa"-ing with gusto. Perhaps this is in part due to how damn often this track has been covered — the cast of Glee, Irish boyband Westlife, Nick Carter (yes, from the Backstreet Boys), and many, many more musicians have all delivered their own takes on the song.
Who knew you were so talented? You learned all these songs off by heart and you weren't even trying. Give yourself a pat on the back and head to the nearest karaoke bar at the soonest possible opportunity.