Songs for multi-generational sing-along
August 5, 2018 3:46 PM   Subscribe

Help me make a list of must-have songs from the 50’s through current for a family event.

I need to download music for a family event. There won’t be wifi. We are going to have a speaker with microphones, so there’s a real possibility this will turn into sing-along karaoke. I’m looking for the absolute best songs - the ones that we love to sing along with. (We’re in the US.) Pop, Motown, and country will probably go over best. Keep it clean. I need some for each generation, and it’s harder than I thought to find lists that aren’t either mostly modern or, like, totally 80s. Whatcha got?
posted by Knowyournuts to Grab Bag (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I feel like saying "take the Beatles songbook and insert here."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:06 PM on August 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

The books Rise Up Singing and its follow-up Rise Again are pretty much made exactly for this purpose.
posted by fancyoats at 4:10 PM on August 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

I Want You Back, The Jackson 5
We Are Family, Sister Sledge
Lean On Me, Bill Withers
Sister Golden Hair, America
Hey Jude, The Beatles

(All from the 70s)
posted by holborne at 4:12 PM on August 5, 2018

Stevie Wonder's Superstition. Even if someone doesn't know the words, they can't not dance to it.
posted by kmkrebs at 4:32 PM on August 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Maybe check Peter, Paul and Mary's discography from the sixties. Folk but with some pop overlap, easy to remember and sing.
posted by Botanizer at 4:33 PM on August 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

The Carpenters will probably be recognized by many of the group.
posted by Calvin and the Duplicators at 4:39 PM on August 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Neil Diamond Sweet Caroline
Anything that went Top 10 from Elvis, Beatles, maybe CCR, etc — id probably just go through the charts and pick the biggest hits from all decades.
Anyone who regnonizes country songs will know Garth Brooks songs. Friends in Low Places will get everyone singing.
posted by cgg at 4:52 PM on August 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

"My Boyfriend's Back" - The Angels
"Can't Buy Love" - The Beatles
"I Get Around" - The Beach Boys
"Mony Mony" - Tommy James and the Shondells
"My Guy" - Mary Wells
"You've Lost that Loving Feeling" - The Righteous Brothers
"I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" - Four Tops (I thought the lyrics were "sugar pie, honey butt" for an embarrassingly long time)
"You Can't Hurry Love" - The Supremes (or Phil Collins version)
"Last Train to Clarksville - The Monkees
"I'm a Believer" - The Monkees
"(Sittin On) The Dock of the Bay" - Otis Redding
"I Heard it Through the Grapevine" - Marvin Gaye
"ABC" - The Jackson 5
"Me and Bobby McGee" - Janis Joplin
"American Pie" - Don McClean
"You're So Vain" - Carly Simon
"Photograph" - Ringo Starr
"Time in a Bottle" - Jim Croce
"Bennie and the Jets" - Elton John
"I Shot the Sheriff" - Eric Clapton
"Thank God I'm a Country Boy" - John Denver
"Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" - Elton John and Kiki Dee
"New Kid in Town" - Eagles
"You're the One that I want" - John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John
"My Sharona" - The Knack
"Babe" - Styx
"9 to 5" - Dolly Parton
"I Love Rock & Roll" - Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
"Who Can it Be Now" - Men at Work
"Come On Eileen" - Dexy's Midnight Runners
"Tell Her About It" - Billy Joel
"Ghostbusters" - Ray Parker, Jr.
"Don't You (Forget About Me)" - Simple Minds
"The Power of Love" - Huey Lewis
"Addicted to Love" - Robert Palmer
"Walk Like an Egyptian" - The Bangles
"Lean on Me" - Club Nouveau
"Pour Some Sugar On Me" - Def Leppard
"Nothing Compares 2 U" - Sinead O'Connor
"I'm Too Sexy" - Right Said Fred
"Time Warp" - Rocky Horror Picture Show cast
"Paradise by the Dashboard Light" - Meat Loaf
"Walk This Way" - Aerosmith
"One Week" - Barenaked Ladies
"Weird Science" - Oingo Boingo
posted by jzb at 5:00 PM on August 5, 2018 [7 favorites]

Show tunes and Disney songs could be nice cross-generational filler, depending on the family.
posted by ghost phoneme at 5:05 PM on August 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

You'll probably get a lot of '60s and '70s suggestions, so here's some stuff from the 1950s:

(How Much is that) Doggie in the Window, Patti Page
That's Amore, Dean Martin
Mr. Sandman, The Chordettes
Don't Be Cruel, Elvis Presley
Que Sera, Sera, Doris Day
The Great Pretender, The Platters
Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers
Little Darlin', The Diamonds
Wake Up Little Susie, The Everly Brothers
Ain't That a Shame, Fats Domino
Day-O (The Banana Boat Song), Harry Belafonte
The Book of Love, The Monotones
Dream Lover, Bobby Darin

(Wikipedia and Billboard helped a lot with this list, and would probably also help with the other decades.)
posted by box at 5:07 PM on August 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

The 100 Essential Folk Songs

1. "This Land Is Your Land" - Woody Guthrie

2. "Blowin' in the Wind" - Bob Dylan

3. "City of New Orleans" - Steve Goodman

4. "If I Had a Hammer" - Pete Seeger

5. "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" - The Kingston Trio

6. "Early Morning Rain" - Gordon Lightfoot

7. "Suzanne" - Leonard Cohen

8. "We Shall Overcome" - Pete Seeger

9. "Four Strong Winds" - Ian and Sylvia

10. "Last Thing on My Mind" - Tom Paxton

11. "The Circle Game" - Joni Mitchell

12. "Tom Dooley" - The Kingston Trio (Trad)

13. "Both Sides Now" - Joni Mitchell

14. "Who Knows Where the Time Goes" - Sandy Denny

15. "Goodnight Irene" - The Weavers (Trad)

16. "Universal Soldier" - Buffy Sainte-Marie

17. "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" - Bob Dylan

18. "Diamonds and Rust" - Joan Baez

19. "Sounds of Silence" - Simon & Garfunkel

20. "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" - Gordon Lightfoot

21. "Alice's Restaurant" - Arlo Guthrie

22. "Turn, Turn, Turn!" - The Byrds (Pete Seeger)

23. "Puff the Magic Dragon" - Peter, Paul and Mary

24. "Thirsty Boots" - Eric Andersen

25. "There But for Fortune" - Phil Ochs

26. "Across the Great Divide" - Kate Wolf

27. "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" - The Band (Robbie Robertson)

28. "The Dutchman" - Steve Goodman

29. "Matty Groves" - Fairport Convention (Trad)

30. "Pastures of Plenty" - Woody Guthrie

31. "Canadian Railroad Trilogy" - Gordon Lightfoot

32. "Ramblin' Boy" - Tom Paxton

33. "Hello in There" - John Prine

34. "The Mary Ellen Carter" - Stan Rogers

35. "Scarborough Fair" - Martin Carthy (Trad)

36. "Freight Train" - Elizabeth Cotton

37. "Like a Rolling Stone" - Bob Dylan

38. "Paradise" - John Prine

39. "Northwest Passage" - Stan Rogers

40. "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" - Eric Bogle

41. "Changes" - Phil Ochs

42. "Streets of London" - Ralph McTell

43. "Gentle on My Mind" - John Hartford

44. "Barbara Allen" - Shirley Collins (Trad)

45. "Little Boxes" - Malvina Reynolds

46. "The Water Is Wide" - Traditional

47. "Blue Moon of Kentucky" - Bill Monroe

48. "No Regrets" - Tom Rush

49. "Amazing Grace" - Odetta (Trad)

50. "Catch the Wind" - Donovan

51. "If I Were a Carpenter" - Tim Hardin

52. "Big Yellow Taxi" - Joni Mitchell

53. "House of the Rising Sun" - Doc & Richard Watson (Trad)

54. "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" - The Weavers

55. "Tangled Up in Blue" - Bob Dylan

56. "The Boxer" - Simon and Garfunkel

57. "Someday Soon" - Ian and Sylvia

58. "Miles" - Peter, Paul and Mary

59. "Masters of War" - Bob Dylan

60. "Wildwood Flower" - Carter Family

61. "Can the Circle Be Unbroken" - Carter Family

62. "Can't Help but Wonder Where I'm Bound" - Tom Paxton

63. "Teach Your Children" - Crosby, Stills Nash & Young

64. "Deportee" - Woody Guthrie

65. "Tecumseh Valley" - Townes Van Zandt

66. "Mr. Bojangles" - Jerry Jeff Walker

67. "Cold Missouri Waters" - James Keeleghan

68. "The Crucifixion" - Phil Ochs

69. "Angel from Montgomery" - John Prine

70. "Christmas in the Trenches" - John McCutcheon

71. "John Henry" - Traditional

72. "Pack Up Your Sorrows" - Richard and Mimi Farina

73. "Dirty Old Town" - Ewan MacColl

74. "Caledonia" - Dougie MacLean

75. "Gentle Arms of Eden" - Dave Carter

76. "My Back Pages" - Bob Dylan

77. "Arrow" - Cheryl Wheeler

78. "Hallelujah" - Leonard Cohen

79. "Eve of Destruction" - Barry McGuire

80. "Man of Constant Sorrow" - Ralph Stanley (Trad)

81. "Shady Grove" - Traditional

82. "Pancho and Lefty" - Townes Van Zandt

83. "Old Man" - Neil Young

84. "Mr. Tambourine Man" - Bob Dylan

85. "American Tune" - Paul Simon

86. "At Seventeen" - Janis Ian

87. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" - Simon & Garfunkel

88. "Road" - Nick Drake

89. "Tam Lin" - Fairport Convention (Trad)

90. "Ashokan Farewell" - Jay Ungar and Molly Mason

91. "Desolation Row" - Bob Dylan

92. "Love Is Our Cross to Bear" - John Gorka

93. "Hobo's Lullaby" - Woody Guthrie

94. "Urge for Going" - Tom Rush

95. "Return of the Grievous Angel" - Gram Parsons

96. "Chilly Winds" - The Kingston Trio

97. "Fountain of Sorrow" - Jackson Browne

98. "The Times They Are A-Changin'" - Bob Dylan

99. "Our Town" - Iris Dement

100. "Leaving on a Jet Plane" - John Denver
posted by maurreen at 5:20 PM on August 5, 2018 [6 favorites]

Buddy Holly - That'll Be the Day
Everly Brothers - Bye Bye Love, Be Bop a Lula, I Kissed You
Nancy Sinatra - These Boots are Made for Walkin'
posted by FencingGal at 6:09 PM on August 5, 2018

The playlist for the Giant Sing-Along at the Minnesota State Fair may be helpful.
posted by lakeroon at 7:38 PM on August 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Scroll down on this page for a list of songs in a ukulele song book designed for sing-a-longs. It skews slightly Australian and older (and simple chords).
posted by kjs4 at 11:41 PM on August 5, 2018

I notice no-one has mentioned Fleetwood Mac, and that is a dead cert when we are doing Family Jukebox. Dreams is the one that EVERYONE always knows.

Also, Heart of Gold by Neil Young, and Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd. Not bangers, but everyone knows and loves them.
posted by greenish at 3:57 AM on August 6, 2018

Anything from The Sound of Music.

Guns 'n' Roses "Welcome to the Jungle," Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf," and Madonna's "Like a Prayer" have been a surprise campfire hits here.
posted by metasarah at 5:41 AM on August 6, 2018

one more for maurreen ' s post:

Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood "Jackson"

sorry, I never can get links to pop
posted by james33 at 6:19 AM on August 6, 2018

I asked a campfire song question not long ago. I have been building a list of songs & lyrics; can send you the word doc if you send me an email address. It will end up on google docs, but needs so much formatting, it's still in Word.
posted by theora55 at 4:58 PM on August 10, 2018

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