Three women in black leotards performing on a stage with the words "Lizzo" in pink behind them.
Lizzo performing at the Palace Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2018. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Lizzo has had the ultimate breakout year. The confident and quotable appeal of her single, “Truth Hurts,” has made massive waves in the music world. The song recently shot up to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and has sat on the throne for four weeks. What makes Lizzo’s first number one single remarkable is the fact that the song was first released in 2017, but never charted that year. It wasn’t until Netflix’s “Someone Great” that the song re-emerged into something bigger—finally getting its proper due.

This isn’t the first time this has happened in pop music. Many of the most recognizable songs we all know and love didn’t have an automatic rise to worldwide success. Much like “Truth Hurts,” movies and television soundtracks are huge avenues for songs to become household staples. There are also many other hits that had moderate success in their first release, but were taken to new heights years later due to popular covers and repurposed duets. Here’s a short list of songs that have experienced the “Truth Hurts” effect in some way, shape or form.

“Walk This Way” by Aerosmith

Known as one of the songs that helped the band jump into the mainstream, “Walk This Way” was originally released in 1975 as their second single for their third studio album “Toys in the Attic.” After not charting its first year of release, the song ended up peaking at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Fusing rock and the new era of hip-hop, Run-DMC ended up covering the track in 1986 featuring Steven Tyler on vocals and Joe Perry on guitar. This not only helped Aerosmith’s comeback in the 1980s, but it influenced the many rock and rap mashups that arrived later on.

“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” by Elton John

Originally being a solo single for his album “Caribou” in 1974, the song became a significant hit for John—peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and reaching number 16 on the U.K. Singles Chart. Although it initially had a great amount of success, it wasn’t until a live duet with George Michael in 1991 that the song reached further acclaim. During the last show of Michael’s “Cover to Cover” tour at the Wembley Arena in London, he brought John to sing the hit with him—an effortless combination of the two legendary artists. The positive reception caused the version to reach number one in both the U.S. and the U.K.

“Borderline” by Madonna

The fifth single from the living legend’s self-titled debut album is the epitome of why America fell in love with Madonna in the first place—however, it took some time for the rest of the world to catch up to its dance-pop bliss. Even though the song was her first top ten hit in America when it first released in 1984, it only peaked at number 56 in the U.K. It wasn’t until the track was re-released in 1986 that it blew up to number two on the charts—right in the beginning of her international stardom.

“Kiss from a Rose” by Seal

The soulful ballad was first released as a single in the U.K. for the singer’s second self-titled album in 1994. The track didn’t get much recognition in America until it played under the credits of the 1995 movie “Batman Forever”—soon becoming re-released as a part of the soundtrack for the film. Because of the exposure from the movie, the song ended up winning Grammys for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance in 1996.

“What Is Love” by Haddaway

The Trinidadian-born EuroDance and house artist released the club hit in May of 1993 as the debut single for his first album “The Album.” The song is most well-known for its foundation in the recurring SNL sketch called “The Roxbury Guys”—first debuting in 1996. The most notable sketch featured Chris Kattan, Will Ferrell and Jim Carrey as clubbers attempting to pick up women in a plethora of outings—bobbing their heads in unison to the catchy track, which soon became a trademark. The wide response to the sketch developed into the 1998 film “A Night at the Roxbury,” which starred Ferrell and Kattan. 

The “Truth Hurts” phenomenon has caused many music fans on social media to campaign for the song they feel deserves its long overdue moment. Even though this trajectory has gone on for many songs over the years, it’s always compelling to witness underrated songs of our past launching to an unexpected new level.

Rylee Jackson can be reached at, or on Twitter @rybyjackson.