Before I begin, let me say that this compilation of the world’s best karaoke crowd pleasers is based on thorough research performed by myself. The millions upon millions of karaoke nights my drunk alter ego, Dranner, has dragged me to provided ample data for the conduction of this experiment. Before you go and say, “Oh, but you missed ________!” (which is also known as the song you once karaoked that probably pleased no one because it’s not on this list) remember that the following is completely scientific and not at all subjective.
15. “500 Miles,” The Proclaimers
Reserved normally for Wednesday Karaoke at the Irish Pub, the Proclaimers’ “500 Miles” is a buckled shoe-tapping good time. For best results, perform after a few Guinnesses, but before the car bombs start flowing.
14. “My Heart Will Go On,” Celine Dion
Watch the crowd tear up as you attempt to imitate the Celine Dion loogey-in-my-throat voice. Eyes will get big as you start the melody off with a stellar whisper tone, later taking it home with a diaphragmy, “THERE’S NOOOOTHING I FEAAAR” crowd bumpin’ belt.
13. “War,” Edwin Starr
Ever since Cory and Topanga did an award winning performance of this smash hit, I’ve never NOT contemplated selecting it when it’s my turn to take the mic. This song covers all your basic karaoke needs: it’s full of emotion, not too wordy, and kind of impossible to eff up.
12. “Tubthumping,” Chumbawamba
This is a classic go-to for group karaoke. The chorus is perfectly designed to be belted by a group of drunk men or women who are struggling to stay sober enough to read the lyrics on screen. Throw in a little “ooooh, Dannny boy” for the ginger of the team and your group is vocally unstoppable. Be careful because the riffs leading up to the chorus may cause overzealous boys to throw the mic down in a pure, testosterone-driven frenzy.
11. “Love Shack,” The B-52s
A precursor to getting it on with your honey, “Love Shack” is the be all and end all of all things karaoke. Everyone in the bar knows the lyrics to sing along, and if they don’t, they’re probably 12 with incredible fake IDs.
10. “Take On Me,” A-Ha
The entire crowd at the Washington Nationals’ stadium performs a karaoke version of this song during every seventh inning stretch, literally knocking that one, impossible “in a day of TWoOooooOOOOOooOOO” note out of the park every time. I hate myself for that pun, but I’m also incredibly proud of it. On a smaller scale, this song is such a classic that it will bring any bar together into one giant drunken and off-key sing along. I’ve heard it’s actually a proven fact that when you’re drunk, you can hit all of the notes to ANY A-Ha song.
9. “Bennie and the Jets,” Elton John
It’s hard to hear this song in terms of karaoke and not think of “27 Dresses.” Now, while Katherine Heigl and that hot guy with the most magnificent eyes didn’t perform this in a karaoke manner per se, they pleased a fuck ton of crowd members with their rendition. This song falls under the “just go with it” category of singing complete jibberish until the “B-B-B-BENNIE AND THE JETS” line. Even if you did have the lyrics in front of you, they wouldn’t make sense anyway.
8. “I Love This Bar,” Toby Keith
You put your bar through hell every Thursday through Saturday, so it’s time you show them a little love back. This ode to the bar has everything the average Joe needs: country without an overbearing, twangy tune, genuine lyrics, and a groovin’ melody. Swoon the pants right off of your favorite bartenders by making love to them through a microphone.
7. “American Pie,” Don McLean
I don’t know what it is about this eight-minute song, but it is fantastic in every sense of the word. I can hardly hold onto my attention for that long, but when Don McLean’s ingenuity of a musical masterpiece begins rolling, I–along with the entire bar–can’t help but order another round immediately and sing along.
6. “Santeria,” Sublime
Every time this song is performed, the singer decides to put on some weird accent. I have no idea why, but everyone plays along and sings accordingly. Everything is happy and peaceful and sing-songy with the melody until the best part, when the crowd suddenly gets feisty and screams, “well I got something FOR HIS PUNK ASS” with every angry bone in their bodies. It’s a kind of magical, coming together moment.
5. “Proud Mary,” Tina Turner
If I’m a karaoke machine (that’s a metaphor for me tearing it up at karaoke, not being a literal karaoke machine with a blue screen and slightly delayed lyrics) then this is the song I’m choosing. Few things get a crowd quite as jazzed as Tina Turner. However, if you are not similarly jazzed, fucking pick another song. Few things kill a crowd’s collective boner quite like half-assed Tina Turner.
4. “Piano Man,” Billy Joel
This one doesn’t need even need an explanation, because I don’t think there are enough beautifully strung together words in this world to capture what a great karaoke song thing is. It’s about an alcoholic at a bar begging for some jams–essentially what the crowd wants out of you. The lyrics will deliver that, but it’s up to you to do Billy Joel justice, which is easier said than done, because let’s face it–the man’s a legend.
3. “God Bless the USA (Proud to Be an American),” Lee Greenwood
Patriotism used to be cool, is still cool, and will always continue to be cool. Why? Because the USA stomps on every other country out there, that’s why. Your voice could be a combination of a chain smoker’s and a strep throat victim’s and you are still guaranteed to receive an encore from the crowd. However, if you need to look at the lyrics for this song, you might as well start tying your own noose, you unpatriotic piece of scum.
2. “Come On, Eileen,” Dexys Midnight Runners
Plug this song in and turn the lyrics screen off, kids. Similar to “Bennie and the Jets,” the words will just confuse you and put you off beat. Sing whatever you think they’re saying, because chances are, the crowd will think, “OOOOOH, that’s what he’s really saying?!” Put your back into every “too-ra-loo-ra” and every “COME ON, EILEEN” and watch the crowd black out from extreme euphoria. And drugs, maybe.
1. “Friends in Low Places,” Garth Brooks
This is it: the number one karaoke song of all time. I don’t care if country music makes your Northerner ears bleed, this song will bring the worst of enemies together in one drunken, musical stupor. “Friends in Low Places” is not only one of the best, modern, “revenge by way of showing up at your ex’s wedding” songs, it is an anthem for not giving a flying fuck as you create an amazing drunken time around, regardless of how inappropriate the situation is. So here’s to you, Garth. Thanks for making the soundtrack to my life.
They are at the way bottom, and if you select them, I am leaving the bar. They are all overly fantastic songs that I will jam to on my phone any day, but dear God, if one more person decides to karaoke them, I WILL punch that person in the face.
9,002,124. “Sweet Caroline,” Neil Diamond
9,002,125. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Queen
9,002,126. “Don’t Stop Believing,” Journey