Karaoke at Home!
April 8, 2010 9:49 AM   Subscribe

My roommate and I wish to host a karaoke night, where I play guitar and he plays piano. What songs should we play?

We are looking for your favorite karaoke songs that can be played with some combination of guitar and piano. There may also be a drum machine on loan, but I wouldn't count on it. So, what should we add to our "to learn" list?
We were also considering getting a "fake book" of some stripe for the evening; any suggestions there?
posted by daniel striped tiger to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I think you could never go wrong with Night Ranger's classic "Sister Christian".
posted by AlliKat75 at 9:52 AM on April 8, 2010

"Don't Stop Believin'"by Journey is, I believe, the number 1 karaoke song!
posted by zizzle at 9:53 AM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Wow, sooo many possiblities. Here are some fun ones that shouldn't be too hard to learn:

I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues - Elton John

Don't Be Cruel - Elvis Presley

Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry

Natural Woman - Aretha Franklin

That'll Be the Day - Buddy Holly

Hey Jude - The Beatles

Imagine - John Lennon

With or Without You - U2

Fever - ?

Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) - Green Day

Wonderwall - Oasis

I Believe when I Fall in Love with You It Will Be Forever - Stevie Wonder

You Ought to Know - by Alanis Morrisette

Come on Eileen - Dexys Midnight Runners

Psycho Killer - Talking Heads

Brown-Eyed Girl - Van Morrison

Moondance - Van Morrison

I Heard it Through the Grapevine - Marvin Gaye

And the absolute musts:

Purple Rain - Prince

November Rain - Guns 'n' Roses (might need to cut the guitar solo if it's out of reach - I don't know what skill level you're working with)

My Way - Frank Sinatra
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:02 AM on April 8, 2010

Response by poster: Forgot to mention:
Don't worry about skill level; unless you're suggesting Yngwie Malmsteen, we can probably handle it.
posted by daniel striped tiger at 10:06 AM on April 8, 2010

I love Jaltcoh selection. Please don't forget I SAY A LITTLE PRAYER by Dionne Warwick
posted by 3dd at 10:22 AM on April 8, 2010

Holy cow that sounds like a lot of fun.

Songs I will, without fail, hear on any karaoke outing because they're fun and pretty much everyone knows them (seconding some mentioned above):

I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) - Meatloaf
Santeria - Sublime
Don't Stop Believin' - Journey
Brown-Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
La Bamba - Ritchie Valens
Bitch - Meredith Brooks
Margaritaville - Jimmy Buffett
Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash

My personal karaoke standards:

Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin' - Journey
I Think We're Alone Now - Tommy James and the Shondells (or Tiffany)
You Can't Hurry Love - The Supremes

Oldies and power ballads will be your friends. Also, pretty much anything on the Glee soundtrack.
posted by geekchic at 10:27 AM on April 8, 2010

It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To.
posted by BostonTerrier at 11:05 AM on April 8, 2010

I find karaoke to be the most fun when a) everybody knows the song, and b) the song has nostalgic value.

Since you're not confined to precreated music, I'd take advantage of it and do some out of the norm songs that everybody still knows.

Look towards old TV show theme songs. Cheers? Growing Pains? Adam West Batman? And cartoon shows like the old Spiderman theme, or Chip & Dales Rescue Rangers!

Maybe some TV ad jingles here and there to spice things up, too. Burger King song, anyone?

I'd also flip through your old records / cassettes / cds from back highschool / college for inspiration.

Personally, our karaoke staples are:
Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl,
Bon Jovi's Livin' On A Prayer and Runaway, and
Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart

My friends and I love the 90's hip hop, but that may be difficult on just a guitar and piano, although according to YouTube it can be done. Here's a piano version of the seminal 2Pac and Dr Dre classic 'California Love' link

The more I think about it, the more a piano and guitar hip-hop karaoke night sounds epic.

Oh, and throw in Britney Spear's "Hit Me Baby One More Time". Everybody claims to hate it, but everybody knows the chorus. It's a great song to pull out spontaneously in the middle of the night.
posted by thisisnotbruce at 11:06 AM on April 8, 2010

Play Free Bird!
posted by imjustsaying at 11:28 AM on April 8, 2010

"Don't Stop Believin'"by Journey is, I believe, the number 1 karaoke song!

Please punch anyone who requests this.

Look towards old TV show theme songs. Cheers? Growing Pains? Adam West Batman? And cartoon shows like the old Spiderman theme, or Chip & Dales Rescue Rangers!

Very good suggestion. Everyone loves singing the Cheers theme. Also add:
Beverly Hillbillies
Gilligan's Island
Dukes of Hazzard (Yee-Haw!)
Busom Buddies (more on this below)
Brady Bunch
Facts of Life
All in the Family
Fresh Prince of Bel Aire
Greatest American Hero
Golden Girls
Green Acres
Happy Days
Love Boat
Muppet Show
Welcome Back Kotter
WKRP in Cincinatti

Other than that, I would say do stuff everybody thinks of for guitar and piano, which you are probably already familiar with. For you, I would say lot of Beatles and Cat Stevens, for him Billy Joel and Elton John. Or, depending on your ages, Buddy Holly and Frank Sinatra.
posted by I am the Walrus at 11:44 AM on April 8, 2010

Beatles come to mind

Lady Madonna has piano and guitar!
posted by scrutiny at 12:15 PM on April 8, 2010

Learn Kelly Clarkson's Since U Been Gone, because I am your brother and that's what I always sing at karaoke, as you well know.

You could also learn Bruce songs for me.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 12:32 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

A piano-only singalong happened spontaneously at a New Years' I went to back in the day. The piano player is one of those "can play anything without practicing it" types, and the most memorable request was definitely Smells Like Teen Spirit. Brought the house down. It wasn't like the Tori Amos piano cover, just pure rock.
posted by Beardman at 1:31 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Riffing on the TV theme idea above, Daniel Striped Tiger, I presume you will offer "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood," You are Special," "It's Such a Good Feeling," and other hits from Fred Rogers' oeuvre.
posted by carmicha at 1:42 PM on April 8, 2010

Anything by Tom Jones is hilarious at karaoke. I suggest Sex Bomb.
posted by ripley_ at 2:13 PM on April 8, 2010

Most of the songs on the Guitar Hero type games work well. I like doing "musician-assisted karaoke" too. Tons of fun. In fact, once everyone has a couple of drinks, lo-fi guitar hero is even better. Make a drum set out of cardboard boxes and get a couple of sticks, everyone likes to be the drummer.

Specific crowd pleasers off the top of my head: Billy Idol (White Wedding, Rebel Yell), the GoGos (We Got the Beat, Our Lips are Sealed), Police (Roxanne), Garth Brooks (Friends in Low Places)

Another thing that works sometimes with a medium sized crowd of friends, like at a backyard cook-out, is to hand out various percussion instruments (or home-made simulations, like spoons) and teach each their simple part in a more complex pattern like bossa nova, cuban son clave, samba, etc. The Santana song "smooth" isn't that hard to put together with a big amateur percussion section, for example.
posted by ctmf at 2:24 PM on April 8, 2010

I should say, it's easier to do the percussion section thing if you present it as a specific fun project for the party, like "tonight we're going to shoot a video for the Santana song and everyone has to either sing or play something." Then re-edit with iMovie or Final Cut and slip in some choice candid video from the party as well. It's way more fun as a memento later than some bad cell phone camera photos.
posted by ctmf at 2:31 PM on April 8, 2010

You might also want to come up with an icebreaker or two if nobody wants to start, depends on your friends. Have a song that EVERYBODY knows, like the previously mentioned "friends in low places" and then have a mandatory "sing one line, then pass the mike to your neighbor."
posted by ctmf at 2:35 PM on April 8, 2010

One more: NSYNC "Bye Bye Bye"
posted by ctmf at 2:43 PM on April 8, 2010

I Will Survive is a classic everyone knows and is fun as sin to sing.
posted by saul wright at 4:12 PM on April 8, 2010

also beach boys and early weezer if you're anything like my friends.
posted by saul wright at 4:13 PM on April 8, 2010

This sounds like a great idea. I would love live karaoke! Here are some of the songs I like to sing, along with standards that I hear all the time at karaoke. I am a chick with an alto voice, so I'm biased toward songs that are in my vocal range, but here are my suggestions.

My favorite karaoke songs (there might be some doubles here):

Crazy - Patsy Cline
Leavin' on a Jet Plane - Peter Paul and Mary
You're So Vain - Carlie Simon
I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues - Elton John
Tiny Dancer - Elton John
Copa Cabana - Barry Manilow (might be hard to pull off without percussion)
Sunday Girl - Blondie
Son of a Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield
In My Life - The Beatles
I Think We're Alone Now - Tommy James and the Shondels
She's Not There - The Zombies

Other songs that I hear all the time (again, there might be doubles):

nthing Don't Stop Believing
Closing Time - Semisonic
Black Water - Doobie Brothers
You Never Even Call Me By My Name - John Michael Montgomery
Black Velvet - Alannah Myles
Summer Lovin - Grease
The Gambler - Kenny Rogers
King of the Road - Roger Miller
Bitch - Meredith Brooks
Take On Me - A Ha

I've found that karaoke crowds tend to be very into oldies and country, so learning some country hits (Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline, Garth Brooks) and any songs from popular artists (the Beatles, Elton John, Neil Diamond, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Hollies, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, The Zombies, The Animals, Rolling Stones) would help a lot. Also, there's a slightly younger crowd of karaoke singers who like to sing hits from the 80s and 90s. You could benefit from learning anything by Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Oasis, Prince, Michael Jackson, etc. Also, don't leave out one hit wonders. I hear a lot of people sing familiar songs from the last couple decades. Pretty much anything you'd hear on a top 40, oldies, or popular country station will be well-received.

Personally, I find that most karaoke DJs have a big hole in their catalogues when it comes to indie music. I would love to be able to sing Belle and Sebastian, She and Him, Camera Obscura, Neko Case, or Regina Spektor songs, but they're not available. There might be an opportunity to fill a niche there.

This is a really cool plan. Have fun with it!
posted by lexicakes at 9:04 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

To my TV themes above, let me add Southpark, Speed Racer, and the Monkees.

Also, commercial jingles might be fun for everyone:
Toys-R-Us (I don't wanna grow up..)
Alka Selter (plop-plop fizz-fizz)
Big Mac (2 all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese...)
Clapper (Clap-on, clap-off..)
Oscar Meyer Bologna (My bologna has a first name...)
Oscar Meyer Hot Dogs (Oh I wish I was an Oscar Meyer wiener...)
Rice-A-Roni (The San Francisco treat)
FreeCreditReport.com (F-R-E-E that spells free, credit report dot com baby)
posted by I am the Walrus at 11:09 AM on April 9, 2010

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