Deep down, regardless of our individual talent level, I believe we all like to sing. Whether it is in the shower, in the car on the way to work, or up on stage in front of a packed pub few of us can resist emulating our favorite artists, deluding ourselves into believing we sound exactly like them. Coming up with a list of the top 50 best karaoke songs of all time was definitely difficult. There are so many great sing-along songs from years gone by that even narrowing it down to 50 was a challenge. I also wanted to represent as many musical genres and time periods as possible. I know this list, like any list based solely on the opinion of a single author, will stir up controversy, but I’ve done my best to objectively select the music contained within. Here are my picks for the greatest karaoke songs:
50 – The Beatles – Yellow Submarine – Easy to sing along to this track by The Fab Four will have everyone in the room belting it out, usually drowning out the person with the mic.
49 – Hank Williams Jr. & Hank Williams Sr. – There’s A Tear In My Beer – This is a great karaoke duet song (for two guys), and is bound to get the beer drinkers in the crowd going.
48 – The Ramones – I Wanna Be Sedated – This is a great song for the rockers in the crowd that don’t have the vocal range to sing ACDC. Everyone in the room will jump in on the chorus.
47 – Olivia Newton John & John Travolta – Summer Nights – A great male/female duet from the soundtrack of the movie/musical Grease. The guys might have to read the lyrics, but I can guarantee the girls will know every word off by heart.
46 – Jeannie C. Riley – Harper Valley PTA – This is another track that the girls just seem to love. An oldie with some country twang to it and a clever story to boot.
45 – Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse of the Heart – One of the best karaoke love songs, this track was also one of the best love songs of the 80s and was a former #1 Billboard hit.
44 – Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream – Two of country music’s biggest legends perform this hit, and with its limited vocal range it is a relatively easy song for most people to sing along to.
43 – The Beatles – When I’m 64 – You knew you’d be seeing a lot of the Beatles on this list of the best karaoke songs. This one is a whimsical song that will get everyone in the room humming along.
42 – Elvis Presley – Blue Christmas – Any time I’ve been to karaoke, regardless of the time of year, this holiday favorite by the King of Rock n Roll gets sung by someone. In my opinion this track would top a list of the best Christmas karaoke songs.
41 – The Village People – YMCA – You want something to really get the crowd going. Everyone knows the lyrics and the dance moves to this song. If the party is a little mellow cue up this track to get the joint jumping.
40 – Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under the Bridge – Sometimes you’ve got to slow it down. When it gets late and everyone is starting to hit the low-key phase pull out this tune. A melancholy tune that will put a nice bow on the evening.
39 – Cyndi Lauper – Time after Time – Though better know for her flamboyant Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – This pop/punk princess recorded one of the best ballads of the 80s.
38 – The Police – Every Breath You Take – This is one of those songs that will bring out the serious side of everyone in the joint. It won’t get people dancing, but it will have them crooning along.
37 – Sonny & Cher – I Got You Babe – One of the best parts of karaoke is the social aspect of it, and karaoke duets are a great way to get the shyer people in the group up on stage to sing. This one is nice and easy to sing along to, and usually gets a good laugh from the crowd.
36 – Styx – Mr. Roboto – Speaking of songs that will get a good laugh from the crowd, Mr. Roboto is one of the best songs of the 80s, and if you throw in some accompanying robot dance moves you’re guaranteed to win the approval of even the most jaded audience.
35 – Roy Orbison – Pretty Woman – Everybody knows this classic track by one of the biggest legends of Rock n Roll. Find Roy a little too mellow? Try the Van Halen version instead for the hard rock fans in the crowd.
34 – Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive – One of music’s greatest divas Gloria Gaynor and her song I Will Survive have made her a karaoke music legend. This song is another track that gets played every time I hit the bar for karaoke, and all the women in the place love to sing along to it.
33 – Paul Simon – Cecilia – Everyone knows the words to this one, and whoever is on the mic is going to have to struggle to be heard over the cacophony of the crowd.
32 – Madonna – Like a Virgin – This one tends to usually be sung as either a dare or a joke, and occasionally involves the singer rolling around seductively on the stage.
31 – Janis Joplin – Me and Bobby McGee – If this were a list of the best oldies karaoke songs this song would certainly challenge for a high spot. Janis Joplin is a true music legend and one of the greatest artists of her generation, and this is her best karaoke song.
30 – Elvis Presley – Hound Dog – To be honest I really had to limit myself to just a few Elvis and Beatles songs when compiling this list. Between the two of them they could have snagged all 50 spots. I chose Hound Dog because it happens to be my own personal favorite Elvis song to sing.
29 – Abba – Mamma Mia – I could tell the Abba fans in the crowd were getting antsy. This is another legendary group with plenty of great karaoke songs to choose from. Mamma Mia has the easiest lyrics to remember and will get most of the ladies at the bar up on their feet.
28 – Wilson Pickett – Mustang Sally – Though he wasn’t the first artist to perform the song, Wilson Pickett was the artist that made the song famous, and I can’t remember a night at karaoke when at least one person didn’t sing this song. Be prepared for the roar of “Ride Sally Ride!” when you hit the chorus.
27 – Big and Rich – Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy – This one would be high up on a list of the best country karaoke songs. Strangely, it seems to be the women in the crowd that always like to belt this one out.
26 – Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show – The Cover of the Rolling Stone – This is one of those songs that you never seem to hear anymore, except at karaoke. With as much talking as singing it is pretty easy for even the range challenged singers in the group to take a pretty good stab at.
25 – Don McLean – American Pie – Getting serious as we enter the top 25 karaoke songs of all time. This one is reserved for the real singers in the group. The audience loves to sing along at first but it is pretty long so you might lose them eventually. Maybe get the DJ to slowly fade it out about the 5 minute mark to avoid wearing out your welcome.
24 – Sir Mix-a-Lot – Baby Got Back – Yes, there are karaoke rap songs as well, and though the good ones might be few and far between this one hit wonder of the 90s is always a crowd favorite. Just make sure you know the words before attempting this one or you’ll find yourself fumbling and get booed off the stage.
23 – The Rolling Stones – Satisfaction – Much like Elvis and the Beatles, the Stones have plenty of great karaoke song potential in their huge library of music. Make sure to strut around like Mick Jagger if you really want to get the crowd going.
22 – Frank Sinatra – My Way – This song by Old Blue Eyes is a great tune to get the party started or to wind it down. Make sure you’ve got the pipes for this one, or some offended Sinatra fan will sing it after you and make you look bad.
21 – Dolly Parton – 9 to 5 – By a legendary country singer, but not really a country song, this one is a huge favorite with the ladies and is a good choice for a group karaoke song.
20 – George Thoroughgood and the Destroyers – Bad to the Bone – Roll up your sleeves and find your lowest octave for this classic rock song. Try not to stumble on the b-b-b-b-b-b-bad!
19 – Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody – One of the best rock karaoke songs of all time, this one is reserved for those with some serious pipes. No one is going to sound just like Freddy Mercury, but I’ve seen a few talented singers get close. Those who wildly overestimate their vocal skills slaughter this one though, and though it might be funny for 30 seconds of so it ultimately turns out to be a painful experience for the audience.
18 – Michael Jackson – Billie Jean – You knew the King of Pop had to have at least one spot on a list of great karaoke songs. MJ is another artist that is hard to emulate, but if you can hit those high notes and throw in a smooth moonwalk you’ll have the audience on their feet cheering.
17 – ACDC – You Shook Me All Night Long – A great hard rock karaoke song, this track is guaranteed to leave you with a sore throat for the rest of the night. Most people tend to simply scream it rather than sing it. Brian Johnson is a hard man to imitate.
16 – The B52’s – Love Shack – Speaking of the best group karaoke songs, this one is a great choice if you’ve got a large group heading up to the stage. Fun and funky, everyone knows the words, and expect to pack the dance floor when you cue this one up.
15 – The Eagles – Hotel California – I could have chosen any number of Eagles songs, but Hotel California always seems to be the one I hear at karaoke night. Not exactly a party song, but people will be swaying and singing along just the same.
14 – Bon Jovi – Livin’ on a Prayer – If you can’t quite hit the vocal range of ACDC try this hard rock favorite instead. Your voice might crack on the chorus, but so will the voices of most of the other people in the room who are belting it out with you.
13 – Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama – A little southern rock flavor on the list of the best karaoke songs of all time. This classic Skynyrd tune usually gets two or three attempts on any given night.
12 – Jimmy Buffet – Margaritaville – Karaoke and drinking go hand in hand. Everybody sings better (or thinks they do) with a little liquid courage in their belly. Thus it is a no-brainer that songs about drinking would be popular with the karaoke crowd, and this smooth Jimmy Buffet anthem is arguably the best song about drinking there is.
11 – The Beatles – Twist and Shout – You knew this one was coming. Twist and Shout is another great song for groups, and you can imagine you’re Ferris Bueller as you belt it out.
10 – The Police – Roxanne – Into the top 10 karaoke songs ever and another Police hit. This one is an even bigger hit as a karaoke song than it was as a single and is another one of those tunes where the singer will be drowned out by the audience crowing out the chorus.
9 – Meatloaf – Paradise by the Dashboard Light – To be honest I can’t stand this song, but I can’t deny its popularity whenever someone gets up to sing it. Another popular choice for a duet or for large groups.
8 – Kenny Rogers – The Gambler – Almost everyone (from my generation anyways) learned this song during childhood, and grew up singing it in school choir or at family jam sessions. The transition to karaoke has been seamless and you’ll find no shortage of people willing to sing with you if you choose this track.
7 – The Rolling Stones – Start Me Up – A lot of people prefer Satisfaction as the best Rolling Stones karaoke song, but I think Start Me Up has just a little more oomph, and really makes it easy to get into the role of Mick Jagger.
6 – Journey – Don’t Stop Believing – One of the best power ballads of the 80s, this song is beloved by karaoke singers everywhere. The words “Don’t Stop Believing” don’t actually appear until near the end of the song, so be prepared for a dramatic finish to this classic.
5 – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – I Love Rock n Roll – This is one of those rare karaoke tracks where the lead vocalist is a woman, but guys like to sing along to it just as much as the girls. One of the greatest rock songs of the 80s is just as good as a karaoke tune.
4 – Bobby Darin – Mack the Knife – Is there anybody in music history as smooth as Bobby Darin. He has several great karaoke tracks including Splish Spash and Beyond the Sea, but old Mackie is his signature song and is great fun to sing along to.
3 – Steppenwolf – Born to Be Wild – If you’ve been out to karaoke on numerous occasions then you’ve no doubt seen more than one person make a fool out of themselves singing this classic rock tune. It actually gets a bit old after awhile, but you can’t deny that people still love to sing it.
2 – Garth Brooks – Friends in Low Places – The best country karaoke song of all time. If you sing this in a country bar you can be assured of a full background choir that know the words by heart. A great song and the chorus will blow the lid off the place.
1 – Neil Diamond – Sweet Caroline – Number one on the list of the best karaoke songs of all time belongs to none other than Mr. Neil Diamond. Caught somewhere between a rock star and a lounge singer Neil Diamond has a huge following of fans and this is without question his most popular hit. While I can admit to some bias with this pick – it is my personal karaoke favorite – it is a huge favorite for singers and audiences alike, so I believe the title of #1 is warranted. Be warned, if you are singing this solo don’t expect to get the chorus to yourself.