17 Songs You Probably Love (And Don’t Know The Name Of)

Music is funny. We’re exposed to it all the time, whether we notice or not—you hear music on the radio as you commute, on the gym, in cartoons, movies, TV intros, movie trailers, etc. With repetition, our brains begin to memorize these songs, even if we’re not aware of it. Since we’re not always in control of the music we’re listening to, we can learn literally hundreds of musical pieces in our brain (because apparently our brain is so much better at memorizing melodic and rhythmic patterns than, say, lyrics), many of which we only know 'by ear'.

So your brain is a chest full of songs you love but can’t find because you’ve heard them out of a context that would allow you to know their names. This is a list of songs that I can guarantee you’ve heard, maybe you even love, but probably don’t know what they’re called. I’m dividing them in three categories: pop music (referring to stuff you hear on the radio), classical scores (a term loosely used here) and trailer themes.


If you’ve ever seen a movie where a white character is acting black, or when black characters are being stereotypical black characters in front of white people, then you’ve heard this song. This one is particularly hard to describe because the lyrics are a bit hard to get if you don’t already know what they’re saying. Either way, it’s a fun song, and the words are “It’s tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that’s right on time it’s tricky!”

If you’re a “How I Met Your Mother” fan, you certainly know this song as the ‘roadtrip song’ Marshall and Ted would play on loop and eventually sing while on dozen-hour long roadtrips. If you haven’t you’re very likely to recognize the fun patterns in the hook’s melody. The song is from a Scottish duo called The Proclaimers, and it rocks ass.

This is my favorite. You probably know it as “That super fucking sweet song Spongebob sings while playing on Squidward’s band” because it’s, without a doubt, one of the most epic and badass moments in animation, ever. You might mistakenly think it’s a Van Halen track, but in reality it’s a song by a dude with an incredible voice that at some point sang in an Iron Butterfly cover band.

This song is everywhere, but comes from a band that only had a few real major hits (unless I’m mistaken). You might have heard it recently as sung by Jim Carrey in “Yes Man”. This is another one of those songs that get stuck in our heads because of the melody. In particular: “I would understaaaaaand!”

CSI NY Theme, among many, many other things—probably know it as “Teenage Wasteland”. If you haven’t heard this song before, you are either lying, have some manner of selective memory loss, or were born after July 2014. Everyone can remember the badass intro.

Buffalo Springfield — For What It's Worth
Give it a moment. You've heard this one, I promise. "Stop! Children, what's that sound?"

This insanely entertaining song became popular as the theme from “Jackass”, but I’m almost convinced didn’t exist before “Jackass”.

Classical (loosely used term)

That epic song we all know from “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the millions of movies and TV shows that at some point spoofed or referenced it was composed by Strauss, inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche’s book by the same name.

It’s German name is “Auf dem Wasser zu singen”, but this beautiful lied you’re most likely to recognize and remember as “Oh man that one’s beautiful!” It’s also played in the awesome movie “Battle Royale” along with several other original and classical pieces. It’s to date my favorite ever movie soundtrack. Well, after “The Lion King”.

Everyone who’s ever wanted to give something a sense of epicness and scale (and chose not to use “Lux Aeterna), has used “O Fortuna” as a backing score. You need one note of this song to recognize it.

Yes, the song that will immediately bring to mind the fun image of a bunch of clowns and carnies prancing around between elephants and lions was actually designed to evoke the image of blood-thirsty and intimidating gladiators. How’s that for cultural misinterpretation?

You might remember this one from the movie by the same name, and I’m pretty sure at some point it was used as a theme for the Olympics. This is another one of those overused themes to add a feeling of largeness and epicness, though by now it’s more often used in a comedic way.

Cliff Friend — “The Merry Go-Round Broke Down”
Did you know that the Looney Tunes theme isn’t actually the Looney Tunes theme, but a composition with the awkward and poignant name “The Merry Go-Round Broke Down”? It was written about a scene that describes, well, pretty much what the title suggests, and was eventually arranged to function as the Looney Tunes theme. The original version has lyrics, and there’s one where Daffy Duck sings them.

Go to 7:30, and then go “Oh hell yes! SO EXCITING IT WILL RUN FOR FIFTY YEARS!”

This song is a bit complicated—so much so, in fact, that you might have a hard time memorizing it. You will definitely remember hearing it in a million different places because it’s very often used (hell, my band uses it to open gigs). It’s a fun and energetic song with an intense and dark backdrop that rises and rises and rises and rises.

Trailer Music

Trailer music is the most frustrating “How the fuck is that epic track called” because 90% of the time we listen to them, we like them. Worse still, there’s no way from a trailer to know what the song is called. If we somehow manage to find out what the song is called, we’ll have an even shittier time in finding it, since most of the people who make these tracks only sell them to advertising agencies, as they’re specifically composed to appear in movie trailers.

This is a topic I know myself because for about 6 years of my life, my hobby was to make my own trailers for movies and stuff I like, and give them an absurdly epic treatment. Through years of searching and asking and downloading, I’ve accumulated an enormous catalog of trailer music—over 3,000 songs. I’ve recognized hundreds of songs in movies (for instance, the second song in this trailer I did ages ago was later used in the “Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows” trailer) and I’ve seen some are repeatedly used. Here are the two most popular I remember, which you’ve definitely heard.

When I sort through my library and find more extremely popular trailer themes, I’ll link them up. Hope you enjoyed this post!
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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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