Looking for suggestions for [definition inside] karaoke songs!
August 22, 2013 7:36 AM   Subscribe

There are, of course, many ways to define "awesome" when it comes to karaoke, but here are some of the key attributes we're looking for:

• Readily singable lyrics with simple progressions - nothing too complex or syncopated

• Energetic, fun, recognizable choruses that inspire the room to join in

• Songs that speak to children of the 80s and 90s, whose parents raised them on the likes of the Beatles

Some examples of songs we like to sing at karaoke: Livin' On a Prayer; Iko Iko; Man Down Under; Like a Prayer; Sloop John B; Sweet Child o' Mine; I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles); Free Fallin', and many more. Hey, it's karaoke - cheese rules the day! (Just no Journey!) This is mostly a pop song/rock and roll crowd; I myself know more blues, country, folk, but I think the folks we sing with aren't going to be familiar with those types of songs.

I've scrolled through the previous karaoke questions, but haven't found anything super on point.
posted by mccn to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (23 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
When it comes to karaoke, Prince is your friend: 1999, Little Red Corvette, Raspberry Beret, Kiss, and When Doves Cry are awesome karaoke songs.

I can KILL at karaoke with Purple Rain, so don't steal my song.
posted by elmer benson at 7:46 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Bohemian Rhapsody. Get a few folks to help you out - the more the better. Air guitar solo is optional but recommended. Some folks I know who do Karaoke use it as a "get everyone on stage and all sing it together" way to end the evening.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:46 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Summer of '69
posted by Salamander at 7:47 AM on August 22, 2013

Anything by the Monkees
posted by txmon at 7:48 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Welcome to the Jungle is more energetic than Sweet Child 'O Mine. (I often do both.)

Total Eclipse of the Heart really works odd enough.

Oh and Whitney Houston's The Greatest Love.
posted by kendrak at 7:57 AM on August 22, 2013

Just a Gigolo / I Ain't Got Nobody
posted by Rob Rockets at 8:45 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hungry Like the Wolf (Duran Duran)
Modern Love (David Bowie)
Jack and Diane (John Mellencamp)
Photograph (Def Leppard)
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (U2)
posted by scody at 8:57 AM on August 22, 2013

If you sing Come On Eileen, odds are good that everyone in the bar will sing along with you.

And though I've never tried this one, I've always thought Under Pressure would be fun to sing at karaoke, too.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:01 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Came in to recommend Total Eclipse of the Heart and Sweet Caroline. Though my personal fave is To Be With You by Mr. Big. Doesn't fulfill the "energetic" request so much, but it is fun to sing along to.

And for the love of karaoke, *don't* be that person who puts on Bohemian Rhapsody! A 6-minute long song with notes no one will hit, with super long musical interludes, and that just sounds terrible when drunkenly shouted by a bunch of people who come to karaoke once a year is just the worst!
posted by Grither at 9:05 AM on August 22, 2013

See my comment from a previous karaoke askme for a very 90s friendly list of fun karaoke songs.

Also LOLing at someone chiding people for Bohemian Rhapsody and "once a year karaoke people" and then suggesting Sweet Caroline.
posted by misskaz at 10:17 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

Depends on the crowd, of course, but:

Livin' La Vida Loca - Ricky Martin. People LOVE this song. A stupid amount. Seriously.
Mr. Jones - Counting Crows
Friends in Low Places - Garth Brooks (watch that low note, though)
Under the Bridge - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Two Princes - Spin Doctors
Any Billy Joel (You might be right, we didn't start the fire)
posted by zug at 11:35 AM on August 22, 2013

I'm in this demographic, and I find that songs from just a bit before my "time" are the ones that kill. They're familiar to people, but also not so overdone as karaoke. Two off the top of my head that I like are Use Me and Rock with You (which is not as difficult as you would think, for a MJ song)
posted by ctmf at 12:05 PM on August 22, 2013

Some of the older songs by The Killers work really well, like "Somebody Told Me" and "Mr. Brightside." They are really recognizable.

I would also recommend "Worlds Apart" by Journey if you're sick of singing "Don't Stop Believing."

The more popular Michael Jackson songs like "Beat It" and "Billie Jean" are good for crowds.
posted by the_wintry_mizzenmast at 12:34 PM on August 22, 2013

La Isla Bonita and Sister Christian are usually a hit in my crowd
posted by rdnnyc at 12:57 PM on August 22, 2013

Ballroom Blitz by The Sweet is my favorite Karaoke song by far.
posted by umbú at 1:00 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Children of the 80s and 90s, you say? What about the Spice Girls? Perhaps there is someone in your group will be able to teach the whole room the dance moves for the chorus of Stop.
posted by snorkmaiden at 1:14 PM on August 22, 2013

"Melt With You" by Modern English
"My Best Friend's Girl" or "Just What I Needed" by The Cars
"White Wedding" by Billy Idol

The 80s are a treasure trove for karaoke.
posted by thecaddy at 1:28 PM on August 22, 2013

Jimmy Buffet...bar crowds love songs with ample drug and drinking references.
posted by mmascolino at 2:24 PM on August 22, 2013

As Grither mentions, it's best to avoid songs that last much over five minutes. An ideal karaoke pick should be less than four. (And give the track a listen before you sing it to make sure it doesn't have Interminable Repetitive Outro syndrome. "Boys and Girls" by Blur and "Ride Like the Wind" by Christopher Cross are both terminal examples.)

Some suggestions:

Echo and the Bunnymen, "Killing Moon" (Make sure you can hit the low notes!)
Cheap Trick, "Surrender"
David Bowie, "Ziggy Stardust"
Mott the Hoople, "All the Young Dudes"
Right Said Fred, "I'm Too Sexy"
System of a Down, "Chop Suey"
Al Green, "Let's Stay Together"
The Go-Go's, "Vacation"
The Animals, "House of the Rising Sun"
Journey, "Separate Ways"
Queen, "Bicycle"
Lionel Richie, "Hello"
Thin Lizzy, "The Boys are Back in Town"
The Beatles, "Lady Madonna"
Hall and Oates, "Private Eyes"
Talking Heads, "And She Was"
They Might Be Giants, "Birdhouse in Your Soul"
Kanye West, "Gold Digger"
The Tremeloes (or Cat Stevens), "Here Comes My Baby"

And the silver bullet: "Flagpole Sitta," by Harvey Danger. Uptempo, not overplayed, not in a particularly challenging range, amenable to dramatics - and absolutely everyone will know the words and join in. 3 minutes, 37 seconds.
posted by Iridic at 2:44 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

That's great input so far - thanks, folks! I agree with Iridic/Grither on the length - I hate dragging things out. And FWIW, this is a private-room setting, with a small group, rather than a get up in front of a bar one, although I'd probably do similar things anywhere!
posted by mccn at 2:45 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hall and Oates
Brooks and Dunn
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:38 PM on August 22, 2013

Private room karaoke is the right choice my friend - it is far superior and much more fun that the public form of the art (and you get far fewer exhibitionists too!). Here's my list...

"Africa" by Toto - you'll get the whole crowd up on that one!
"Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds - air fist pumps galore.
"Fuck You" by Cee Lo Green - a modern one but a vigorous rendition of the chorus gets everyone involved.

And don't forget the hip flask of scotch. That bit is very important!
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 5:43 PM on August 22, 2013

My favorite karaoke just posted that they are removing the top 50 most sung songs from their computers because they want people to sing other stuff. This is their list a lot of those songs will be popular with most people (who don't go to karaoke regularly.)

Last time I went out, I sang Institutionalized by Suicidal Tendencies. That may or may not work for your crowd.
posted by vespabelle at 7:20 PM on August 23, 2013

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