Many artists seem to have cracked the code on how to make a hit. Max Martin has been making hits with a wide roster of artists for decades, and “Drake Isn't on the Billboard Hot 100 for the First Time Since 2009” was a completely factual headline that popped up last year.
Though some would argue that there is a formula to make a hit, what’s inarguable is that the cultural zeitgeist does change. Sometimes a hit appeals to that shift with its timing, but whether or not it accidentally does so is irrelevant: A hit is a hit. For example, people just wanted to hear a former Dru Hill member prose about thongs after surviving the Y2K scare. Things happen when they happen (or as a wise man once sung, it’s part of God’s plan).
Despite the formula, though, Billboard’s Hot 100 history has been littered with many hits that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. Desiigner surprised many when he suddenly popped up on The Life of Pablo—that song became a hit. Afroman made a comedy rap about getting high—that became a hit. LL Cool J and Brad Paisley wanted to solve racism, so they teamed up and made a hit. Not every music phenomenon can be explained, but the randomness of their ubiquity is part of what makes pop culture endlessly interesting.
We’re talking about a variety of things when we mark the following songs as “random” hits. A few came from virtual unknowns who captured the mainstream public’s attention on their first try. Some are “random” by virtue of simply being the first of their kind. Others are here because of a viral piece of magic that wound up carrying the song. However they reached our ears, we’re glad they did—for the most part. Here are the 25 most random songs to make the Billboard Hot 100.