What is your country/region's top karaoke hit?
May 11, 2021 6:11 AM   Subscribe

Pretty much what it says on the tin. We were watching Ted Lasso and someone sang "Wonderwall" at a bar, and I was like, WAIT, is that England's "Don't Stop Believin'"? (Is it??) What's the "Don't Stop Believin'" equivalent where you are?

(like, the song where, when you see the title scroll or hear the first few chords you're a little like "ugh" but mostly, at least privately, like "YES!!!", and everyone in the bar sings along with great enthusiasm)
posted by goodbyewaffles to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
This is so specific to my city (Buffalo, NY).

Shout - The Isley Brothers

The lyrics the crowd sings with great enthusiasm are not from the original but from the Buffalo Bills version of the song.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 6:20 AM on May 11, 2021 [3 favorites]

In the UK, it's pretty much Dancing Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, My Way, I Will Survive, and Summer Nights from Grease.
posted by pipeski at 6:23 AM on May 11, 2021 [4 favorites]

This wouldn't be so much sung at karaoke, but definitely a song that the whole bar might join in on if it came on. Specific to 80s/90s (I left in 2001, who knows what it's like now) New Zealand.

Whaling - DD Smash

Must have had a whole load of speights to be appropriately maudlin about the whole thing.
posted by gaspode at 6:26 AM on May 11, 2021

More cover-band than karaoke, but if you get enough drunk Australians in one place, it's either Flame Trees, or Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again.

I may be showing my age.
posted by pompomtom at 6:28 AM on May 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

For a lot of Canadians of a certain age, it's Home For A Rest by Spirit of the West.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:43 AM on May 11, 2021 [9 favorites]

I'm not really a karaoke person, but for the Netherlands, I have a feeling it's Heb je even voor mij.
posted by neushoorn at 7:01 AM on May 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

Angels by Robbie Williams is another ugh/YES!!! karaoke song in the UK.
posted by terretu at 7:01 AM on May 11, 2021 [3 favorites]

Maybe not karaoke, but if you have a group of Ohioans and you play "Hang on Sloopy" by the McCoys, they will all yell "O-H-I-O" on the four beats after the "Hang on Sloopy, Sloopy hang on" lines in the chorus. Probably accompanied by YMCA-esque arm movements, which yes, I just took a break from typing this to do. It's not ideal for karaoke because no one knows the verse lyrics; it's a marching band song. But everyone tries to sing along via "ba-dum", "da da da da", and the like, even the actual marching band.

Somewhat less common, but still a thing, is shouting "we're gonna beat the shit out of you" during Gary Glitter's Rock and Roll Part 2 (the part at 1:07). I think people from other places do that too, though.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:02 AM on May 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

Boston is Sweet Caroline. Exactly as you say, I moved away 15 years ago and I still cringe and then sing along, loudly.
posted by wellred at 7:09 AM on May 11, 2021 [11 favorites]

In Boston, it's Sweet Caroline.

On edit, jinx.
posted by justkevin at 7:10 AM on May 11, 2021 [8 favorites]

I thought in the UK it was Mr. Brightside??
posted by saladin at 7:23 AM on May 11, 2021 [3 favorites]

When I lived near a Vietnamese gangster hangout out in Toronto, most of their singing was SE Asian pop music, but 2 recognizable songs were 'Another Day in Paradise' and 'Love Potion #9'.
posted by ovvl at 7:24 AM on May 11, 2021

Hang on Sloopy was popular in Ohio for reasons
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 7:25 AM on May 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

About six years ago I had the peculiar honour of building/coding the in-bar player for the Lucky Voice chain of bars here in the UK and it was Livin' On A Prayer by a country mile. Nearly 15% of all plays.
posted by offmessage at 7:34 AM on May 11, 2021 [11 favorites]

UK karaoke chain Lucky Voice posted the hundred most popular songs of 2019 last year. Some of it's stuff from the last couple of years that probably won't keep its ranking in the future, but the top five that are more than five years old are Bohemian Rhapsody, Let It Go, Dancing Queen, Wonderwall and Sweet Caroline. (And then Wannabe). So pretty much in line with pipeski's instincts up above! offmessage's Livin' On A Prayer is in the top 50 too.

Honestly a lot of these would do pretty well in Australia as well but "songs that are just disproportionately big in one country and perhaps nowhere else" is I guess more what you're after? In which case I think the Australian forerunner is John Farnham's You're The Voice, which I don't believe anyone ever plays voluntarily but which everyone, including people much younger than the song, will seem to know when it somehow spontaneously starts playing. This is supported by it being one of very few Australian tracks on the Australian iTunes karaoke charts. (And the others that I can see from a quick glance are all specifically about being Australian, eg I Still Call Australia Home, which is I guess another contender - but it's in the news at the moment because of a recent satirical cover, so it might be up from where it would usually be because of that).
posted by severalbees at 7:43 AM on May 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

Eastern Canada has their own particulars but Barrett’s Privateers will get every Haligonian to yell along although no one knows the verses. There are memes about getting Haligonians to give up their hiding spots if you say “The year was 1778...”. In St. John’s, NL, many years ago it was The Night Paddy Murphy Died (it probably still is). Sweet Caroline here too with random yelling of ‘sociable!’ and Home for a Rest as mentioned

I wouldn’t say anyone likes these songs in terms of listening to them regularly but yeah, full bars will sing along. Especially funny when the rest of the music is recent hip hop and dance music and they’ll put on Paddy Murphy and the whole place just starts jumping up and down (how you dance to this music) and screaming the words.

Also the Lower Deck in Halifax has a cover band that basically specializes in these songs.
posted by hydrobatidae at 8:01 AM on May 11, 2021 [9 favorites]

For Canadians of a certain age (older than pompomtom?) it's Barrett's Privateers.

The final singalong at the Winnipeg Folk Festival is The Mary Ellen Carter, followed by Wild Mountain Thyme, and ending with Goodnight Irene.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 8:02 AM on May 11, 2021 [8 favorites]

"Hang on Sloopy was popular in Ohio for reasons"

Past tense?

It's a bit chicken-and-egg; it's the state rock song because it's a rock song written by Ohioans, but it wouldn't have become the state rock song if it weren't for the marching band.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:05 AM on May 11, 2021

"Friends in Low Places" is guaranteed to start a line dance in most Southern karaoke bars.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:00 AM on May 11, 2021 [4 favorites]

Maritimer women of a certain age are very into The Rose. You'll be partying and carrying on and then someone starts singing The Rose and suddenly everyone's crying into their rum and diet pepsis and waving their lighters.
posted by Stoof at 9:01 AM on May 11, 2021 [3 favorites]

As an Albertan I have to add The Last Saskatchewan Pirate by Captain Tractor. And at the end of the Edmonton Folk Fest they used to sing Four Strong Winds.

We like 70's rock a lot out here, so We Will Rock You and We are the Champions are super big for getting everyone pumped up and singing, particularly at hockey games.
posted by kitcat at 9:13 AM on May 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

In bars around the University of Illinois in the 90s, Bye Bye American Pie was often played. By the time I went there, the bar that originated the altered lyrics (O'Malleys) was gone, but the chorus' altered lyrics remain:

"...The good ole boys were drinking whisky and rye BEER!, singing this'll be the day that I die [at O'Malleys!]. This will be the day that I die [drinking beer with my f***ed up friends!].

I really hope this is still sung in those parts; can anyone confirm?
posted by hydra77 at 9:23 AM on May 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

Scotland: The Proclaimers - I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) is guaranteed to get everyone yelling along with the chorus.
posted by apparatchik at 9:25 AM on May 11, 2021 [5 favorites]

Country Roads in West Virginia, of course, and in limited observation, in Germany.
posted by sandmanwv at 1:24 PM on May 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

In my youth in New Zealand it was Ten Guitars.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:42 PM on May 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

Creepy My Way Killings wiki entry! Philippines. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Way_killings
posted by kapers at 10:12 PM on May 11, 2021

Twentysomething Australians have brought back the 1990 daggy pop hit Horses . My young English cousin was baffled that this was the Australian Wonderwall equivalent.

The cliche of cliched Australian karaoke (/pub band) songs is Khe Sahn, to the point that many people find it really cringey. It is a strange karaoke smash hit, because the lyrics are actually quite moving and detailed reflections of a veteran with PTSD.
posted by hotcoroner at 12:31 AM on May 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

If the karaoke book has the Tragically Hip in it, someone will do Bobcaygeon and then you'll get a long chain of people doing Hip songs until the whole bar ends up singing along to Fiddler's Green with tears running down their faces into their beers.
posted by 256 at 5:18 AM on May 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

hydra77, yes, as recently as 2007. Can't comment any time after that!
posted by BlueBear at 12:55 PM on May 14, 2021

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