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Surprise Streaming Hits: 10 Songs From the 2010s You Wouldn't Expect Still Get Millions of Weekly Plays

Chris Stapleton
Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Chris Stapleton performs on Aug. 18, 2015.

Part of the fun of monitoring the streaming charts on sites like Spotify and Apple Music is seeing the older titles that pop into their daily listings among the newer hits. Most often, they're established perennials like Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" or The Killers' "Mr. Brightside," or timely hits like Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" around Halloween or Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" around the holidays.

But occasionally, you might see a song that defies easy explanation: a minor crossover hit from ten years ago that you thought had mostly faded from popular memory, or a sizable hit from a genre that doesn't usually have great streaming presence, or a title from a popular artist that you didn't think really had hits in the first place. It might be due in part to TV syncs, or a viral challenge -- or the song might have just endured better than you might have thought from its original peak.

Here are ten songs that are at least five years old that weren't necessarily chart smashes upon their initial release -- and aren't old enough to have been bronzed as classics yet -- but which were still streamed at least 2.5 million times last week.

Chris Stapleton, "Tennessee Whiskey" (2015) (8.2 million streams last week)

Chris Stapleton's cover of David Allan Coe's early-'80s country standard became his breakout hit in 2015, and still ranks as his highest entry on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 20. Still, even though the song was undeniably popular, few would've guessed that a half-decade later, the song would still be one of the most streamed -- of all genres and all time periods -- of the week, without an obvious sync or other bump in exposure to account for the high numbers. Perhaps due to its timeless quality, the song has simply enjoyed an impressive shelf life, regularly figuring in the top 10 of Billboard's Country Streaming Songs listing.

Melanie Martinez, "Play Date" (2015) (5.1 million streams last week, No. 171 overall)

Melanie Martinez has always been very popular on streaming -- despite never cracking the Billboard Hot 100 with any of her original material, debut album Cry Baby has spent over 100 weeks on the Billboard 200 albums chart, as eight of the set's 13 tracks have racked up over 100 million plays on Spotify. But her hottest song on streaming currently is "Play Date," a bonus cut from the set's deluxe reissue, which has exploded recently in large part thanks to its popularity on TikTok -- including a slowed-down version of it set to slow-motion footage of Timothée Chalamet dancing as Elio in Call Me By Your Name.

J. Cole, "No Role Modelz" (2014) (3.6 million streams last week, No. 312)

"No Role Modelz," off J. Cole's blockbuster 2014 Forest Hills Drive LP, was not an especially big chart hit upon its 2014 release, only peaking at No. 36 on the Hot 100. In the streaming era of just a couple years later, "No Role Modelz" undoubtedly would have fared better -- all 10 tracks from 2016 follow-up 4 Your Eyez Only debuted higher than No. 36 on the chart -- especially since the song has since grown to be a signature track for Cole, a highlight of his live show and a fixture on hip-hop radio and on streaming.

Tame Impala, "The Less I Know the Better" (2015) (3.5 million streams last week, No. 335)

This alt-funk single from 2015's Currents had a negligible chart presence upon its initial release, peaking at No. 35 on Billboard's Hot Rock Songs chart and never gracing the Hot 100. But as Tame Impala's profile has continued to rise, following the rapturous reception to Currents and subsequent collaborations between Tame architect Kevin Parker and the starry likes of Rihanna and Travis Scott, "Less I Know" has proved an enduring streaming hit, consistently ranking in Spotify's daily US Top 200 chart and racking up over half a billion plays on that service alone.

Vance Joy, "Riptide" (2013) (3.4 million streams last week, No. 348 overall)

An absolute monster hit internationally -- particularly in singer-songwriter Vance Joy's home country of Australia -- "Riptide" was a slow-burning stateside hit as well. It ultimately peaked at No. 30 on the Hot 100, but enjoyed a fairly long tail of popularity, thanks its to cross-format radio appeal, its regular presence soundtracking TV shows and commercials, and a preponderance of high-profile covers.

Christina Perri, "A Thousand Years" (2011) (3.1 million streams last week, No. 457 overall)

"A Thousand Years" was a modest hit upon its initial release in 2011 off the soundtrack to Twilight: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1, hitting No. 31 on the Hot 100, but largely getting overshadowed by the OST's lead single, Bruno Mars' top 5 smash "It Will Rain." In the years since, though, "It Will Rain" has largely faded from public memory while "A Thousand Years" has arguably become the song most associated with the entire Twilight series -- which a decade later, still refuses to recede from the pop culture spotlight.

Lord Huron, "The Night We Met" (2015) (2.9 million streams last week, No. 457 overall)

Not a hit or even an official single upon its initial release as the closer to indie-folk outfit Lord Huron's sophomore album Strange Trails, "The Night We Met" would take on a life of its own, thanks to a number of high-profile TV syncs -- most notably, a slow dance scene in Netflix's hit teen drama 13 Reasons Why. The song would end up belatedly gracing the Hot 100 in 2017 as a result, peaking at No. 84, and enduring as a streaming favorite in the years since.

Willow, "Wait a Minute!" (2015) (2.9 million streams last week, No. 524)

Second-generation pop star Willow Smith has only enjoyed one major hit on the Billboard Hot 100: 2011's "Whip My Hair," which climbed all the way to No. 11. But it's not Willow's biggest streaming hit: That would be "Wait a Minute!," from 2015 debut LP Ardipithecus, which has three times as many Spotify plays as her lone top 40 entry. Like "Play Date," the song has been resurrected by Tik Tok, where a popular video edit of the song features its opening-verse title phrase as the punchline to a (previously inaudible) dialogue.

Ty Dolla $ign, "Or Nah" (2014) (2.8 million streams last week, No. 528)

The original version of Ty Dolla $ign's "Or Nah," featuring producer DJ Mustard and guest rapper Wiz Khalifa, was a medium-sized hit in 2014, reaching No. 48 on the Hot 100. But the song got a second wind thanks to a remix featuring R&B singer The Weeknd -- just about a year away from becoming one of the biggest pop stars on the planet -- and has grown into a perennial streamer in the years since.

Grouplove, "Tongue Tied" (2.6 million streams last week, No. 608 overall)

Grouplove's breakout hit was a chart-topper on Billboard's Alternative Songs listing in 2012 -- boosted in no small part by a then-unavoidable sync in an Apple iPod Touch commercial -- and experienced solid crossover success too, peaking just outside the Hot 100's top 40. The song has endured as an alt-pop favorite, and has experienced a minor uptick in streams in recent weeks, perhaps due to nostalgia for a simpler time where being taken to a best friend's house was still an option.

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