They are staring at me. I must oblige.
March 29, 2006 1:11 AM   Subscribe

Summer. The evening is starting. Friends gather around on the beach. I have my acoustic guitar. They ask me to play something. What to play ?

Good evening, ladies and gents, thanks for taking interest in my request. I'm look for ideas of songs I should, strike that, MUST learn in order to enjoy the crowd of friends. Singalong, sweet melodies, classics, must-have-in-my-repertoire, recent hits that are bound to be asked. Roughly, gimme 20 songs I just HAVE to be able to play & sing on cue. Please ?

I'm fairly good in chord strumming and finger-picking, I can sing if my life depends on it. I can't shred to save my life, but who cares ? Personnal tastes range from pop to alt-rock, post-rock and lo-fi, but I'd rather have people sing along with me than start guessing what I'm playing exactly.

Oh, and, I'm French and have French friends, so bonus points for (recent) French songs :)
Vive la musique ! :)
posted by XiBe to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (45 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Feel by Robbie Williams is the ultimate sing along song IMNSHO.
posted by sveskemus at 1:38 AM on March 29, 2006

Last week I asked AskMefi "What do you want a cover band to play?"

Maybe this will help you a bit.
posted by SwingingJohnson1968 at 1:40 AM on March 29, 2006

I have no idea how cliche/overplayed she might be in France, but Carla Bruni is nice..
posted by provolot at 1:45 AM on March 29, 2006

Rebellion (Lies)?

It has the French connection and a solitary hand-clap. Might be nice.
posted by ed\26h at 1:57 AM on March 29, 2006

Response by poster: "Feel by Robbie Williams is the ultimate sing along song"

I'm sure it is, but I still need to retain a bit of my indie cred, see ? :)

"What do you want a cover band to play?"

I'll check that, but most suggestions seem a bit dated, while I was thinking of recent songs, rather.

"Carla Bruni is nice"

She sure is, but most of France is getting a bit sick of her, she's been really overplayer for two years. Too bad.

"Rebellion (Lies)?"

Nice idea. Not sure anyone will know the words, though. Pretty tough crowd, heh ?

Thanks so far, please keep'em coming !
posted by XiBe at 2:40 AM on March 29, 2006

American Pie
posted by ajbattrick at 3:17 AM on March 29, 2006

This is a pretty tough question for the international audience here... "What are some recent songs that were famous in France? And are also hip? But weren't too famous? And can be played on acoustic guitar?"

Can you give us any examples?
posted by Marquis at 3:23 AM on March 29, 2006

bonfire classics that make people sing along like halelujah, Non Je Ne Regrette Rien!
posted by dabitch at 3:41 AM on March 29, 2006

"From the Beginning" Emerson Lake and Palmer
posted by OneOliveShort at 3:46 AM on March 29, 2006

The theme from The Littlest Hobo. Seriously, you can't lose with that one.
posted by bifter at 3:48 AM on March 29, 2006

ooh.. I have the same problem.. The ones I find are most popular:

Cecilia - Simon and Garfunkel
Feelin Groovy - Simon and Garfunkel
How you remind me - NIckelback (sounds good acoustically)
Angels - Robbie Williams
Blowin in the wind - Bob Dylan
Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell/Sheryl Crow/Countin Crows
'74 / '75 - The Connells
More than words - Extreme
Under the bridge - Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Yellow Submarine - The Beatles
Follow Me - Uncle Kracker
House of the Rising Sun - (the animals?)
Wild Thing - The Troggs
Runaway - The Corrs

Plenty more, but people generally know the words to those ones. Is that what you were looking for?
posted by lemonpillows at 4:43 AM on March 29, 2006

Lily of the Valley (red is the rose that in yonder garden grows, but fair is the lily of the valley...)

Ben Harper songs

Long Black Veil (from Lefty Frizzell, but recorded by lots of people)

Kumbaya if you want a good laugh

Friday by The Cure

Also, are you in America with your French friends, or are you in France?
posted by bilabial at 4:57 AM on March 29, 2006

Everybody knows the words to "Under the Bridge". Playing it at a party when everybody is hammered is hilarious.
posted by baphomet at 5:20 AM on March 29, 2006

you could play wonderwall. i dont think ive heard that enough times played by friends on their accoustic guitars...
posted by muthecow at 5:31 AM on March 29, 2006

Stairway to Heaven
posted by DieHipsterDie at 5:46 AM on March 29, 2006

Normally I hate dudes that bring acoustic guitars to parties, but I knew this one dude who was a huge hit at parties -

he played gangsta rap songs in a folky style.

"Fuu-uu-cc the police, comin strai-ai-aight from the undergrou-ound..."

big hit.

I still hate him, but that's my problem.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:47 AM on March 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite memories of high school comes from the trip that many of us took in spring of 1996 to France. We were riding the Metro one afternoon when two local guys got into the subway car, one with a guitar.

They started playing and singing "Wonderwall."

Next thing you know, the whole subway car, I kid you not, is singing under their breath. It was probably one of the most sublime experiences I have ever been a part of.

My point is, everyone knows the words. And these were French dudes.
posted by kuperman at 5:52 AM on March 29, 2006

(and it's an easy song to play)
posted by kuperman at 5:52 AM on March 29, 2006

Whoops. Sorry.
posted by kuperman at 5:53 AM on March 29, 2006

I don't know man, it all depends on how cool your friends are. I think "Rebellion" would be sweet, but you play that for some people and they're all "Bleeeah Sweet Home Alabama!"

Surefire singalong songs for people who grew up with mainstream 90s pop:

Oasis - Wonderwall, Champagne Supernova
RHCP - Under the Bridge, Californication
Weezer - Buddy Holly, Undone
Green Day - Good Riddance
No Doubt - Don't Speak
Radiohead - Creep
Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit

And then probably some Dave Matthews crap.

Good songs that people may know:

My strategy is just to take my "complete Beatles" volumes I and II and flip through until I find something I want to play. Hey Jude is a pretty good crowd pleaser. That and playing whatever the hell I feel like.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:04 AM on March 29, 2006

Whoops, I didn't give you any good songs that people may know, because I looked over my music collection and decided I just can't say with confidence what people will or won't know, beyond the initial list I laid out.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:05 AM on March 29, 2006

Growing up, there was a camp by a lake, and there was a friend of my dad's who would always bring his accoustic guitar, which would prompt my dad to bring his out too (a rare event). And the song we would beg (BEG!) him to play/sing every time was a song called Mule Skinner Blues.

I also agree with lemonpillows.
posted by lampoil at 6:17 AM on March 29, 2006

Here's an almost identical question from many AskMe moons ago. Many good suggestions in there.
posted by Otis at 6:28 AM on March 29, 2006

Neil Young - Heart of Gold
posted by dbiedny at 6:29 AM on March 29, 2006

Neil Young - pretty much anything from Harvest, After the Gold Rush, of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.
posted by saladin at 6:33 AM on March 29, 2006

Some jerk is going to yell out Freebird, so you might want to learn that.
posted by electroboy at 7:03 AM on March 29, 2006

Some jerk is going to yell out Freebird, so you might want to learn that.

No, you should punch them in the face. Under no circumstances should you capitulate and play Freebird.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:08 AM on March 29, 2006

Over the Hills and Far Away it looks more impressive than it should.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:14 AM on March 29, 2006

Besides knowing singalongs ... for that time when the fire's dying down, the singing has ended and everyone else around the fire is smooching, learn to strum spanish guitar. Being able to sit there and strum out something with a soulful, artistic feel to it will get you a lot more booty than Neil Young ever would get you.
posted by SpecialK at 7:14 AM on March 29, 2006

Someone recently busted out Mad World, off the Donny Darko soundtrack (I think it's Gary Jules), at a party. It was very popular, especially for what I've always found to be a depressing song.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:33 AM on March 29, 2006

Interesting timing on this question... After a 30 year hiatus, I've returned to playing the ukulele, and have been trying to find tabs to various tunes. Anyway...

A few that I'd like to hear someone play on guitar:
- Yesterday (Beatles)
- Blackbird (Beatles)
- El Paso (Marty Robbins)
- Don Quixote (Gordon Lightfoot)
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 7:34 AM on March 29, 2006

You need to sing Ça plane pour moi of course by Plastic Bertrand. Almost goes without saying.

Everyone from every culture seems to know I Wanna be Sedated by the Ramones. Do a slow version (which has been done many times before, but it will still seem relatively cool and original).

Some Leonard Cohen songs are always worthwhile. Hallelujah is a good start - use the Jeff Buckley or Rufus Wainright versions to get started.

Gainsbourg - Bonny and Clyde for sure. Ford Mustang maybe. Maybe some stuff with Jane Birkin as well for those impromptu duets.
posted by mikel at 7:38 AM on March 29, 2006

If you were Canadian, I would recommend "Home for a Rest" by Spirit of the West and some Tragically Hip, preferably "Wheat Kings".
posted by crazycanuck at 7:52 AM on March 29, 2006

If you're playing guitar with a bunch of friends, they want you to play songs they know, simple as that. If you know the kind of music they listen to, play that. If not, play what's popular on the radio.

This is always a problem for me, because I don't listen to enough popular music on my own (and no one really cares about my solo jazz rendition of Misty). But I always know what songs they do want to play. :)
posted by danb at 8:08 AM on March 29, 2006

Why don't you ask your group of friends what they'd like to hear and then learn that?
posted by agregoli at 8:25 AM on March 29, 2006

"Hélène" by Roch Voisine.

Reading this thread has put the song in my head, so I thought I'd just add it. Girls love it where I'm from... (or maybe just the soppy ones).
posted by ClarissaWAM at 9:27 AM on March 29, 2006

"My Guitar" by Ben Lee--it's easy, breezy, and fun.
posted by GarageWine at 9:52 AM on March 29, 2006

You should check out various mashup sites and learn to go from one song to another while not changing chords or stopping. Somewhere I heard a mashup of "high" by Radiohead and "Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye. On the PartyBen site, you'll find "Boulevard of Broken Songs" which mixes Wondwerall and Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

Your friends, if they haven't heard of mashups, will think you a musical genius.
posted by inviolable at 10:01 AM on March 29, 2006

New Model Army- Stupid Questions

will address any wisenheimers on the beach who are jealous that yer wielding the axe of love and want to make you feel uncomfortable.


also if your voice is not that hot, lou reed talk song- no vocal skills necessary

king missile- detachable penis

and for postmodern ironic whatevers do the
britney spears- hit me baby one more time

to get em hot and bothered

, and then
suzanne vega- luka
to cool em down
posted by stavx at 10:06 AM on March 29, 2006

pogues-a pair of brown eyes
posted by chrismc at 10:56 AM on March 29, 2006

My favorite from summer camp was always, "Wish you were here" by Pink Floyd.

"We're just two lost souls swimmin' in a fish bowl....year after year"...

Great song to show off your guitar songs on, too.
posted by sayitwithpie at 11:15 AM on March 29, 2006

My favorite from summer camp was always, "Wish you were here" by Pink Floyd.

Oh yeah, I can't beleive I forgot that. I used to play that for people all the time. Yesterday and Blackbird are usually popular as well.

But I agree that the best thing is to just figure out what your friends want to hear if you're aiming to please the crowd.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:40 AM on March 29, 2006

Brown-eyed Girl by Van Morrison is almost always a good bet, though I read someone's comment (here at metafilter maybe) that said basically "please for the love of God don't". I guess some find it too obvious or overplayed though I've never run into that. (after a few drinks who doesn't like to shout sha la la la la la la la la la ti da?)

Cover of the Rolling Stone by Dr. Hook was popular at the last sing along I was at.

Other suggestions from my playlist that seem to go over well,

Last Kiss (covered by Pearl Jam some years ago now)
Juicy Fruit theme song
Margaritaville-Jimmy Buffet
anything by Great Big Sea (old black rum is a good drinking tune)
La Bamba
Anything by The Tragically Hip seconded
Hey Jude
posted by skinnydipp at 12:19 PM on March 29, 2006

What? No one has mentioned James Taylor!

Always a crowd pleaser.
posted by cptnrandy at 12:22 PM on March 29, 2006

The Jam, "That's Entertainment"
posted by scody at 12:23 PM on March 29, 2006

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