Release dates are increasingly obsolete in the modern music landscape. In 2022, dozens of songs — some stretching back to the 1970s — have gone viral on social media, before crossing over to streaming platforms and charting around the world. While TikTok is the main incubator for belated virality, the trend extends to YouTube, Netflix and even Reddit. Wherever music and shareable content collide, there’s a vintage hit or overlooked gem just waiting to be resurrected and shared with a whole new generation of fans.
While there’s no concrete measure for ranking the most impactful viral revival of 2022, the following songs, which range from Kate Bush’s seminal 1985 single “Running up That Hill” to Ruth B.’s previously obscure 2017 album cut “Dandelions,” transcended their first burst of virality to find a much bigger audience. From a high-profile sync on “Stranger Things” to soundtracking a “God of War” meme, there’s no predicting how a song will cut through the noise in 2022. And that’s all part of the fun.
Aerosmith – “Dream On” (1973)
720M+ Spotify streams
Classic rock never goes out of fashion, but songs from 1973 rarely ascend Spotify’s Global 200 and re-chart in multiple countries. That’s exactly what happened, however, when Aerosmith’s “Dream On” went viral thanks to a meme that pairs it with Kratos, a character from 2005 computer game “God of War,” falling off a cliff. The meme, which has generated hundreds of millions of views on TikTok and YouTube, exposed a whole new generation to Steven Tyler’s iconic howling, pushing “Dream On” past 700 million Spotify streams.
Kate Bush – “Running up That Hill” (1985)
#3 Billboard Hot 100, 820M+ Spotify streams
The highest profile viral revival of 2022 was undoubtedly Kate Bush’s “Running up That Hill.” Resurrected by a key sync in season four of “Stranger Things,” the 1985 hit single experienced overnight virality on social media and started racking up massive streaming numbers. In a rare move for a so-called “catalog song,” Warner Records reserviced the synth-pop anthem to radio and it rocketed to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Running up That Hill” went on top the charts in eight countries including Australia and the U.K.
Elley Duhé – “Middle of the Night” (2020)
655M+ Spotify streams
Sometimes a song just needs a little time to catch on. That certainly applies to Elley Duhé’s 2020 banger “Middle of the Night,” which suddenly found traction on TikTok in 2022. By that stage, Duhé had parted ways with her label and management stepped in to self-fund a promo campaign that saw “Middle of the Night” leap into the top 10 of Global Spotify and chart in countries as diverse as India, France and Malaysia. The pop anthem has amassed more than 650 million streams and been certified gold by the RIAA.
Eminem – “Mockingbird” (2005)
785M+ Spotify streams
Gen Z doing TikTok dances to a 17-year-old Eminem song was probably not on your 2022 bingo card, but anything goes in the current musical landscape. Released as the fifth single from “Encore” way back in 2005, “Mockingbird” has become a modern-day viral phenomenon due to the proliferation of a “sped-up” version across social media. The trend has since crossed over to streaming platforms. “Mockingbird” is No. 20 on YouTube’s U.S. Top Songs chart and currently holds the mantle as Spotify’s most-streamed song from the 2000s.
Ghost – “Mary on a Cross” (2019)
#90 Billboard Hot 100, 220M+ Spotify streams
With a song that was originally released as a B-side in 2019, Swedish rockers Ghost found themselves with an unexpected hit when a “Stranger Things” fan spliced together footage of his favorite characters and set it to “Mary on a Cross.” The song went nuclear on TikTok, and soon made its way across the full music ecosystem, becoming Ghost’s first entry on the Billboard Hot 100 and attaining gold certification. The band is still riding the wave, recently dropping a brand new video set in 1969.
Hudson Mohawke – “Cbat” (2011)
10M+ Spotify streams
The award for 2022’s ickiest viral revival belongs to Hudson Mohawke. “Cbat,” an instrumental track first released in 2011, exploded across streaming platforms after an eye-watering confession on Reddit. The author claimed that “Cbat” was his go-to bedroom anthem, which he used to “match the rhythm” — much to the chagrin of his girlfriend. The full horror of the confession only becomes apparent after hearing the song in all its distorted glory. When “Cbat” reached No. 1 on US Spotify’s Viral 50, the Scottish producer understandably declared that we are living in “the dumbest timeline of allllll.”
Lady Gaga – “Bloody Mary” (2011)
100M+ Spotify streams
Lady Gaga’s “Bloody Mary” wasn’t featured in Netflix’s “Wednesday,” but the hit series still managed to indirectly resurrect the 2011 banger. In the show, Jenny Ortega gets her paws up while dancing to the Cramps’ “Goo Goo Muck.” Fans re-synced the routine to “Bloody Mary” on TikTok and a viral sensation was born. The song has now passed 100 million Spotify streams and is charting around the globe. With Mother Monster giving the trend her seal of approval on social media, expect to see the “Born This Way” anthem continue to reach new heights in the weeks ahead.
Miguel – “Sure Thing” (2011)
535M+ Spotify streams
One of the positive consequences of viral revivals is seeing songs that didn’t get their due the first time around finally being appreciated. That’s certainly true of Miguel’s swoonworthy “Sure Thing,” which has become something of an R&B radio staple in the decade since it was first released. “Sure Thing” first resurfaced on YouTube via a popular “slowed + reverb” remix in 2019 and riffs on the downtempo makeover started popping up on TikTok in 2020. Momentum has only grown since then and “Sure Thing” is now climbing Spotify’s Global 200 and YouTube’s Top U.S. Songs chart. Is it time for an official re-release?
Tom Odell – “Another Love” (2012)
1.3B+ Spotify streams
While Bush’s “Running up That Hill” was the highest profile song to be brought back to life in 2022, Tom Odell’s “Another Love” has it beat on streaming numbers. First released in 2012, the piano ballad went hyper-viral on TikTok — twice — this year when it was embraced as a protest song. “Another Love” was first used to raise awareness about the Russian invasion of the Ukraine and then embraced by Iranian women protesting human rights abuses. Without being officially reissued, Odell’s track has amassed more than 1.3 billion Spotify streams and was certified platinum by the RIAA.
Ruth B. – “Dandelions” (2017)
940M+ Spotify streams
You can’t keep a good song down. “Dandelions” first appeared on Canadian singer-songwriter Ruth B.’s debut album “Safe Haven” in 2017. The Joel Little-produced track wasn’t released as a single and seemingly disappeared into the ether until a “slowed + reverb” remix went viral on TikTok in late 2021. Since then, the loved-up tune has become a staple on streaming platforms, amassing close to one billion Spotify streams and more than 500 million YouTube views. “Dandelions” was certified platinum by the RIAA in October.
Seafret – “Atlantis” (2015)
410M+ Spotify streams
Having a slowburn hit is one thing, but British indie-pop duo Seafret waited seven years for their debut single to take off. A haunting break-up ballad, “Atlantis” went viral on TikTok earlier this year thanks to a “sped-up version” — much like Eminem’s “Mockingbird.” Seafret’s Jack Sedman and Harry Draper were quick to act, officially releasing an “Official Sped Up Version” and even an “Official Extra Sped Up Version.” It did the trick: “Atlantis” is now charting across Europe and the song recently passed 400 million Spotify streams.
Sia – “Unstoppable” (2016)
#28 Billboard Hot 100, 670M+ Spotify streams
Sia’s 2016 ballad — a promotional single from “This Is Acting” — lived up to its title when it experienced a viral resurgence in 2022. “Unstoppable” benefitted from a good, old-fashioned sync when it was used in a Samsung commercial and then enjoyed additional virality when it was embraced as a protest song against the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. “Unstoppable” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 six years after it was released, eventually climbing all the way to No. 28 and being certified platinum.
The Walters – “I Love You So” (2014)
#71 Billboard Hot 100, 750M+ Spotify streams
TikTok not only brought “I Love You So” back from the dead, it also resurrected the Walters. The band called it quits in 2017 and members were pursuing solo endeavors when TikTok users discovered the shoegazer ballad. Sensing an opportunity, the quintet quickly reunited in 2021 and inked a record deal with Warner Records. The 2014 track was re-released complete with a new video, which references their hiatus by having the band emerge from hypersleep on a spaceship. “I Love You So” would climb to No. 71 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 2022 and go on to amass more than 750 million Spotify streams.
The Weeknd – “Die For You” (2016)
#12 Billboard Hot 100, 1B+ Spotify streams
“Die For You” was a minor hit by the Weeknd’s standards when it was rolled out as the fifth and final single from “Starboy” in 2017, but its second act has been considerably bigger. The R&B ballad was discovered by TikTok in late 2021 and has become the go-to soundtrack for romantic “creates.” The Weeknd was paying attention and stepped out of his current album cycle to film a new video and re-service the song to radio. And it paid off. “Die For You” bested its original chart peak when it climbed to No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 earlier this year and recently passed one billion Spotify streams.
Jaymes Young – Infinity (2017)
#94 Billboard Hot 100, 780M+ Spotify streams
Jaymes Young probably thought “Infinity” was destined to remain a fan favorite when it was released as part of 2017’s “Feel Something” album. TikTok, however, had other ideas. Various iterations of the song went viral on the platform after it was used in anime fan edits and the Seattle singer-songwriter was quick to capitalize, releasing a new video as well as official “Sped Up” and “Piano” versions. It turned out to be well worth his while with “Infinity” cracking the Billboard Hot 100 in 2022 and being certified platinum by the RIAA.