Billboard is celebrating the 2010s with essays on the 100 songs that we feel most define the decade that was -- the songs that both shaped and reflected the music and culture of the period -- with help telling their stories from some of the artists, behind-the-scenes collaborators and industry insiders involved.
Putting a country artist and dance producer together for a pop radio hit would’ve been unthinkable decades ago. But the 2010s opened minds and ears to cross-genre collabs, and Zedd, Grey and Maren Morris’ 2018 team-up “The Middle” showed that no matter the genres of the artists behind it, all it takes is an undeniable hook and a powerhouse vocalist to help a song soar.
Laced with unique sound effects from a ticking clock to a whipping axe, “The Middle” almost instantly became a ubiquitous hit, particularly thanks to its ridiculously catchy belt-along chorus. The song shot to the top of the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart in its second week and held strong for a then-record-breaking 33 weeks; it only took six weeks to break the top 10 on the Hot 100, where it eventually peaked at No. 5.