100 Best Rock Songs from the '90s to Sing at Karaoke
Going to a '90s night? Need some songs for your cover band? Found an old pair of overalls and wanna take a trip down memory lane? Here's a list (in alphabetical order) of the best '90s songs to sing karaoke to or to cover with your cover band.
1. "1979" by Smashing Pumpkins
Album: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Release Date: January 23, 1996
"1979" was written by the Smashing Pumpkins and released in 1996 as the second single from their third studio album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. "1979" was written by frontman Billy Corgan, and features loops and samples that were uncharacteristic of the Smashing Pumpkins. The song is a coming of age story by Corgan. In the year 1979, Corgan was 12 and this is what he considered his transition into adolescence. The song was a massive success and Allmusic's Amy Hanson called it, "a somewhat surprising hit." The song was nominated for the Record of the Year and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the 39th Annual Grammy Awards. Smashing Pumpkins won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Alternative Video. The song remains popular on American radio stations.
And I don't even care to shake these zipper blues
And we don't know just where our bones will rest
To dust I guess
Forgotten and absorbed into the earth below
Double cross the vacant and the bored
They're not sure just what we have in the store
Morphine city slippin' dues, down to see that
We don't even care, as restless as we are
2. "Always Be My Baby" by Mariah Carey
Release Date: March 9, 1996
On "Always Be My Baby," Carey worked with the great producer Jermaine Dupri, who had risen to fame during the mid '90s. After recording the song, in December 1994, Carey recalled that she chose to work with Dupri because he had a "very distinct vibe." Carey also worked with Manuel Seal. As Seal played different keys on the piano, Carey led him with the melody she was "hearing inside her head" and began humming the phrase "always be my baby." The simplicity of the refrain was stuck in everyone's head and, unsurprisingly, it's still stuck in our heads today.
You'll always be a part of me
I'm part of you indefinitely
Boy don't you know you can't escape me
Ooh darling 'cause you'll always be my baby
And we'll linger on
Time can't erase a feeling this strong
No way you're never gonna shake me
Ooh darling 'cause you'll always be my baby
3. "Barely Breathing" by Duncan Sheik
Album: November 12, 1996
Label: Duncan Sheik
Release Date: November 12, 1996
This was originally intended as a "throwaway" track. Sheik said that he only wrote it to complete the album. Surprisingly, the song became Sheik's breakout hit, entering the top 20 of the U.S. Billboard charts, peaking at #16, and remaining on the chart for 55 weeks. The song made it to #8 on VH1's list of 40 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the '90s.
'Cause I am barely breathing
And I can't find the air
I don't know who I'm kidding
Imagining you care, and I could stand here
Waiting a fool for another day
But I don't suppose it's worth the price
Worth the price, the price that I would pay
Everyone keeps asking, what's it all about?
4. "Basket Case" by Green Day
Release Date: August 1994
"Basket Case" is about struggling with anxiety. The song explores the terror of thinking you are going crazy. Armstrong commented that at the time, "The only way I could know what the hell was going on was to write a song about it."
"Basket Case" was produced by Rob Cavallo, who ended up signing the band to Reprise Records in 1993. Green Day and Cavallo recorded the version of "Basket Case" released on the trio's major label debut Dookie sometime between September and October of 1993 in Berkeley, California.
Sometimes I give myself the creeps
Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me
It all keeps adding up
I think I'm cracking up
Am I just paranoid?
Or am I just stoned
5. "Been Caught Stealin'" by Jane's Addiction
Album: Ritual de lo habitual
Label: Warner Bros.
Release Date: November 15, 1990
The song has regularly featured on television and in films. These hard rockers don't shy away from dark topics... or self-incriminating topics. The song has a long lifespan, appearing in the soundtracks for the video games Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, Rock Band 3, Power Gig: Rise of the SixString, and The Darkness II. This is a classic that will get everyone tapping their feet.
Mine all mine!
My girl, she's one too
She'll go and get her a shirt
Stick it under her skirt
She grabbed a razor for me
And she did it just like that
When she wants something, she don't want to pay for it
She walk right through the door
Walk right through the door
Hey all right!
If I get by, it's mine
Mine all mine!
6. "Better Man" by Pearl Jam
Release Date: November 22, 1994
"Better Man" was written by vocalist Eddie Vedder when he was in high school. He said that its melody and chord progression are based loosely on the song "Save It for Later" by The English Beat. Vedder first performed the song with a San Diego, California–based group called Bad Radio. The tempo was slightly faster, but altogether it was quite similar to the Vitalogy rendition. Vedder later recorded it with Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam was initially reluctant to record it and had initially rejected it from the album due to its accessibility. Luckily, the band decided to record it. The song helped to launch Pearl Jam to legendary status.
Talkin' to herself, there's no one else who needs to know
She tells herself, oh
Memories back when she was bold and strong
And waiting for the world to come along
Swears she knew it, now she swears he's gone
She lies and says she's in love with him, can't find a better man
7. "Bitch" by Meredith Brooks
Album: Blurring the Edges
Release Date: May 20, 1997
"Bitch" is a Grammy-nominated song recorded by American artist Meredith Brooks. It was released in May 1997, as the lead single from her debut album Blurring the Edges. The song steadily rose on the Billboard charts, eventually peaking at number two for four weeks. The song reached number two in Canada as well. It ranked at number 79 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s. It's still considered a feminist anthem.
I hate the world today
You're so good to me
I know but I can't change
Tried to tell you
But you look at me like maybe
I'm an angel underneath
Innocent and sweet
Yesterday I cried
Must have been relieved to see
The softer side
I can understand how you'd be so confused
I don't envy you
I'm a little bit of everything
All rolled into one
8. "Black or White" by Michael Jackson
Release Date: November 11, 1991
"Black or White" was written, composed, and produced by Michael Jackson and Bill Bottrell. It was the first single from the album Dangerous. The song was an anthem for peace between races and the desire to find a common ground that was bigger than the pettiness of those in power. At its core, it is a call to love our neighbors and to think more deeply about each other.
For gangs, clubs, and nations
Causing grief in human relations
It's a turf war on a global scale
I'd rather hear both sides of the tale
See, it's not about races
Where your blood comes from
Is were your space is
I've seen the bright get duller
I'm not going to spend my life being a color
9. "Black Velvet" by Alannah Myles
Album: Alannah Myles
Release Date: December 17, 1989
"Black Velvet" is a song of praise for Elvis Presley. Co-writer Christopher Ward, who was Myles' then-boyfriend, was inspired on a bus full of Elvis fans while riding to Memphis. The song was originally one of just three demos Myles presented to Atlantic Records which eventually got her signed to the label.
Up in Memphis the music's like a heat wave
White Lightnin' bound to drive you wild
Mama's baby's in the heart of ev'ry school girl
"Love Me Tender" leaves 'em cryin' in the aisle
The way he moved, it was a sin, so sweet and true
Always wanting more, he'd leave you longing for
Black velvet and that little boy smile
Black velvet and that slow southern style
A new religion that'll bring you to your knees
Black velvet if you please
10. "Blue Monday" by Orgy
Release Date: August 18, 1998
Derakh, one of the band's guitarists, had previously gained some fame in the 1980s metal band Rough Cutt. Hewitt, another guitarist, was a former member of Electric Love Hogs. Gordon and Derakh were also experienced producers, having produced Coal Chamber's self-titled CD. In the late '90s, they were signed to Korn's label Elementree Records.
Those who came before me
Lived through their vocations
From the past until completion
They'll turn away no more
And I still find it so hard
To say what I need to say
But I'm quite sure that you'll tell me
Just how I should feel today
11. "Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Deep Blue Something
Album: 11th Song and Home
Release Date: July 4, 1995
Recorded by American alternative rock band Deep Blue Something, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" originally appeared on the album 11th Song. Later, it was re-recorded and released on their album Home. It was the band's only hit, peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot 100.Outside of the United States, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" topped the charts in the UK, and peaked within the top ten of the charts in Australia, Belgium (Flanders), Canada, Germany, the Republic of Ireland, and Sweden. This is one karaoke song that will never die!
And I said, "What about Breakfast at Tiffany's?"
She said, "I think I remember the film.
And as I recall, I think we both kinda liked it."
And I said, "Well, that's the one thing we've got."
You say that we've got nothing in common
No common ground to start from
And we're falling apart
You say the world has come between us
Our lives have come between us
Still I know you just don't care
89 More '90s Songs for Karaoke or Cover Bands
- Brick - Ben Folds Five
- Bullet With Butterfly Wings - Smashing Pumpkins
- Buddy Holly - Weezer
- Champagne Supernova - Oasis
- Come Original - 311
- Come to my Window - Melissa Etheridge
- Comedown - Bush
- Counting Blue Cars - Dishwalla
- Creep - Radiohead
- Criminal - Fiona Apple
- Cumbersome - Seven Mary Three
- December - Collective Soul
- Don't Speak - No Doubt
- Dragula - Rob Zombie
- Everlong - Foo Fighters
- Everybody Hurts - R.E.M.
- Everything I Do (I Do It For You) - Bryan Adams
- Father of Mine - Everclear
- Flagpole Sitta - Harvey Danger
- Give It Away - Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Give Me One Reason - Tracy Chapman
- Good Riddance - Green Day
- Hard to Handle - Black Crowes
- Heroes - The Wallflowers
- Hey Jealousy - Gin Blossoms
- Hold My Hand - Hootie & the Blowfish
- How Do I Live - LeAnn Rimes
- I Alone - Live
- I'll Stand By You - The Pretenders
- I'm the Only One - Melissa Etheridge
- I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston
- I Will Buy You a New Life - Everclear
- I Will Survive - Cake
- If It Makes You Happy - Sheryl Crowe
- In Bloom - Nirvana
- Interstate Love Song - Stone Temple Pilots
- Iris - Goo Goo Dolls
- Jeremy - Pearl Jam
- Jumper - Third Eye Blind
- Just A Girl - No Doubt
- Killing Me Softly - The Fugees
- Learn to Fly - Foo Fighters
- Let Her Cry - Hootie & the Blowfish
- Life Is A Highway - Tom Cochrane
- Lightning Crashes - Live
- Linger - The Cranberries
- Lit Up - Buckcherry
- Little Miss Can't Be Wrong - Spin Doctors
- Losing My Religion - R.E.M.
- Machinehead - Bush
- My Favorite Mistake - Sheryl Crowe
- My Hero - Foo Fighters
- My Own Prison - Creed
- My Own Worst Enemy - Lit
- Mr. Jones - Counting Crowes
- Name - Goo Goo Dolls
- No Rain - Blind Melon
- Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinead O'Connor
- Nothing Else Matters - Metallica
- November Rain - Guns 'N Roses
- One - U2
- One Of Us - Joan Osborne
- Only Happy When it Rains - Garbage
- Possum Kingdom - The Toadies
- Only Wanna Be With You - Hootie & the Blowfish
- Right Here, Right Now - Jesus Jones
- Salvation - The Cranberries
- Santeria - Sublime
- Semi-Charmed Life - Third Eye Blind
- Shimmer - Fuel
- Show Me Love - Robyn
- Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
- Something to Talk About - Bonnie Raitt
- Song 2 - Blur
- Suck My Kiss - Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Sunny Came Home - Shawn Colvin
- Tom's Diner - Suzanne Vega
- Torn - Natalie Imbruglia
- Tubthumping - Chumbawamba
- Two Princes - Spin Doctors
- Unbelievable - EMF
- Under the Bridge - Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Underneath It All - No Doubt
- Walk On the Ocean - Toad the Wet Sprocket
- What I Got - Sublime
- What's My Age Again - Blink 182
- Wonderwall - Oasis
- You Oughtta Know - Alanis Morissette
- Zombie - The Cranberries
What Styles Defined '90s Music?
Overall, '90s music was defined by it's sarcastic and and often ironic tone. Unlike the 1950s or the 1970s, the '90s wasn't an era in which any radically different genres of pop music emerged. Rather, the '90s provided a new look at that music.
In the case of grunge and alternative rock, the '90s were defined by bands like Alice in Chains, Smashing Pumpkins, and Nirvana. These bands represent a departure from the rock of the '60s and '70s. The protest songs were aggressive and unhinged, the tempos were less danceable, and the cynical outlook ran counter to '80s optimism (punk and thrash metal aside). Similarly, the creation of G-funk and gangsta rap took a more aggressive approach to political and social discourse. That being said, there were still plenty of love-struck pop songs out there.
Hopefully this list was helpful in making your decision. But, if you've skimmed through the list and are still unsure, remember, rock 'n' roll is a diverse genre with many more styles and songs to choose from. I hope your karaoke performance goes well!
11 Great '90s Albums
"Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness"
"Ritual de lo habitual"
"Blurring the Edges"
"Weezer (The Blue Album)"