The Top 20 Karaoke Songs
The Top 20 Karaoke Songs Of All Time
Every night, all across the country (and the world), people make their way to their favorite local bar or nightclub and join drunken business men and tourists everywhere in that time honored tradition... karaoke.
Having worked in a Karaoke bar for years while I was in college, I have a special place in my heart for a bunch of drunk girls, grouped together on a tiny stage, singing (and I use this term generously) "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" as loud as they can. Then you have the guy who, "forced" by his friends, gets up, does his best John Bon Jovi stare and belts out "Wanted Dead Or Alive".
And so night after night (to borrow a line from Mr. Bon Jovi), "it's all the same, only the names will change". For years I called their names, popped the disc into the machine, handed them the microphone and stood back and watched as they entertained the crowd. It is from those years of experience that I bring you this list: The Top 20 Karaoke Songs of All Time.
How I Decided
The criteria I used for compiling this list is simple:
- Number of requests to sing it per night
- The Cringe factor
- Amount of liquor required before people will sing it.
So sit back, grab a dose of your favorite "liquid courage", and get ready to sign up, here we go.
Before We Begin...
How often do you Karaoke?
# 20 - Wanted Dead Or Alive ~ Bon Jovi
In the leadoff spot is this Bon Jovi classic. Popular with guys who have had way too much to drink, this song usually ends up with several guys screaming into the mic, doing their best Axel Rose impersonation. Oddly enough, this is one of the easiest Bon Jovi songs to sing (at least musically), the problem is that it's usually sponsored by (lots and lots of) Jack Daniels.
# 19 - I Will Always Love You ~ Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston
Some singers have a "once-in-a-generation" voice- a voice that transcends anything you've heard up until then. Whitney Houston was such a singer. Her 1992 cover of the Dolly Parton classic "I Will Always Love You" is a showcase of her unmatched vocal abilities.
That said, the only thing the Whitney Houston version and the Dolly Parton original have in common are the words, and anyone signing up to sing Whitney's version needs to be prepared for the longest four minutes and forty-six seconds of their life.
# 18 - Hey Jude ~ The Beatles
The Fab Four really were not meant for Karaoke. They were icons who had such an original and hard to duplicate vocal style that it's almost impossible for someone to sound good doing them solo. A group is best if you want to sing anything by The Beatles.
# 17 - I Can't Help Falling In Love ~Elvis Presley
Like the Beatles, Elvis really doesn't translate well to Karaoke. Never the less, this ballad is usually a favorite of older couples celebrating an anniversary or just a night out. If you feel the need to sing this (or any Elvis song for that matter), avoid the urge to curl your lip and do an Elvis impersonation (you will only look like a jackass), and just sing.
# 16 - Fly Me To The Moon ~ Frank Sinatra
Ok guys, listen up. You want to be the talk of the bar, learn to sing this song even halfway decent and the results will pay dividends. I have seen men of all ages leave with women way out of there league after knocking it out of the park with this one. Proof once and for all that Ol' Blue Eyes is the coolest man ever to walk the Earth.
# 15 - Reflections ~ Christina Aguilera
This song usually signals the time of the night when I would find some excuse to not be in the room. Say what you will about her behavior, Christina has an amazing voice with an incredible vocal range. Throw in the fact that there has never been a "good" Karaoke arrangement of this song, and the result is 4 minutes of Gitmo worthy torture.
# 14 - Baby One More Time ~ Brittney Spears
This is another song to which there is a stereotypical "type" to sing this pop hit. My advise ladies, unless you want every drunk a$$hole in the place (and I do mean every) to start hitting on you relentlessly, avoid this song. No good will come of it.
# 13 - True Colors ~ Cyndi Lauper
The bartenders and I would have a bet going almost every night as to who would be the one to sing this song. While I will avoid going into such things here, I will just say that stereotypes exist for a reason, and never is this more true than with the people who usually (there are always exception... but not often) sing this song.
# 12 - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun ~ Cyndi Lauper
This is the theme song for every bachelorette party ever. Like locusts for schnapps and chardonnay, this is another museum situation (look, enjoy, but never touch). Even I would avoid these at all costs, favoring instead to simply hand them the mic and run away. Ladies, this is all yours. Crank up the volume and have a blast, you deserve it.
# 11 - Wannabe ~ Spice Girls
This one is a big hit with the cougar crowd. Guys pay attention, avoid the temptation to hit on the girls right after they get done singing this song. They get all "girl powered" up and you have about as much chance with them as I do of becoming the next Justin Beiber. Cheer from afar, but do not approach until someone has sang some Phil Collins.
# 10 - Living La Vida Loca ~ Ricky Martin
Every night there is always one drunk tourist who thinks because he's been doing shots of Jose Cuervo since lunch that he's Ricardo Montalban. They sing, they spas... I mean dance, and, inevitably, pass out. Pro Tip: If you come to Florida, we don't call it the "Sunshine State" just because it needed a clever nickname. It gets hot here, and downing massive amounts of tequila in the heat, will make you sick.
# 9 - Never Gonna Give You Up ~ Rick Astley
Long before the "Rickroll", this 80s pop hit was tearing up the Karaoke bars. Popular because of it's simplistic lyrics and Rick Astley's almost monotone vocal range (seriously, he should be at the front of the class calling for "Bueller" over and over).
# 8 - Pour Some Sugar On Me ~ Def Leppard
I can't even begin to describe some of the misquoted lyrical versions of this song I've heard over the years. Even with the lyrics appearing on the screen all around the place, I don't think any two people ever sang the same words at the same time. Guys, if you ever wanted a song that's sure to get the ladies dancing (and drinking) this is it.
# 7 - We Will Rock You ~ Queen
This song was officially banned in my bar on the nights that I worked because of excessive table pounding resulting in spilled drinks. I will tolerate lots of things in life, but wasting perfectly good alcohol is not one of them. In it's heyday (usually every year during March Madness) this song is always followed by a run on the bar for shots.
# 6 - Mack The Knife ~ Bobby Darin
Written for a German musical in the 20's Mack the Knife has become a standard. Popular with businessmen and the, hmm how can I put this delicately... "chronologically gifted" crowd, this song makes an appearance almost nightly. Best preformed with an open bowtie around your neck and a glass of scotch in hand, this classic really gets the whole bar going.
# 5 - Friends in low places ~ Garth Brooks
This song is brought to you by Jim Beam. I don't think I've ever heard anyone sing this song while sober. That being said, few songs inspire a bar wide sing along like Garth's anthem for jilted lovers. This song holds a personal record for me, as it has caused more bar fights than any other song in the library. Well done Garth... well done
# 4 - My heart will go on ~Celine Dion
When Kate and Leo sprang onto the big screen with Titanic, they brought with them this hit. I like to call it; "musical crazy glue", because one little touch and it'll be stuck on you for days. Many's the time I would find myself in class, absentmindedly humming this song. Needless to say that drew some looks. This is another song that was sure to send me scrambling for the dials to try to control the levels. Able to go 0 to 60 in two notes Celine Dion is rarely a good idea for karaoke.
# 3 - Summer Nights ~ Grease
Without a doubt the most popular duet ever. This bubbly classic usually ends up with the guys and the girls in the bar trying to out shout each other. The go to song for a couple on a date, summer lovin has led to (that I know of) five long-term relationships, two marriages, and one child. Use with caution.
# 2 - The Greatest Love Of All ~ Whitney Houston
This song always comes in a close second and for years has been the bane of my existence. Few people realize the vocal range required to sing this song, and 9 times out of 10 they would get to the first chorus and stare at me with panic stricken eyes when they realize just what's about to happen. So I have to scramble to fix the levels so that our rock star doesn't sound like a young boy who's voice is changing. Ahh, good times.
# 1 - The Rose ~ Bette Midler
The title track from Bette's academy award nominated big debut, this is without a doubt the most signed up for song in Karaoke history. Women (and quite a few men) love this soulful ballad, and night after night it was usually one of the first 5 songs someone would sign up for. It was so popular in fact, that I glued it's CD case to the side of the cabinet that held our sound system, just so I'd have it "on deck".