For many years, one of my go to activities has been karaoke! Meeting up with friends at a local nightspot, enjoying a “girly” bright-colored cocktail or two, while belting out tunes from the 1970s through the early 2000s, has been the perfect “recipe” for a good time.
While this quarantine time makes it rather difficult to go out and meet friends for singing, it does allow plenty of time for reflecting, and therefore I thought it might be fun to blog on some of my all-time favorite karaoke songs. Please know that this is not a complete list, as I have often been known to sing songs on the “fly,” including Debbie Gibson’s Only In My Dreams and Martika’s Toy Soldiers! Perhaps a future blog should be the top 10 songs I should not be singing? Of course, the “rebel in me” would then be even more inclined to want to sing them! Without further ado, here are my 10 go to karaoke songs, arranged in chronological order of when the song was first released.
Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me by Elton John. There are several great versions of this song, but I prefer the original solo version of the classic by Elton John, to the later version featuring George Michael. This song builds gradually, with fantastic lyrics, and a very soulful crescendo. Many of sir Elton John’s hits were bigger on the charts, but this is a song that everybody knows, can relate to, and often gets many people cheerfully singing along. And in the current pandemic, the message of the song is more powerful than ever! (Billboard Hot 100 #2, Adult Contemporary #6, 1974)
December 1963 (Oh What A Night) by The Four Seasons. This song is a hoot to sing, everybody knows it, and it’s just a great way to get people feeling good! Almost everybody knows the lyrics without even looking at the screen, but yet it’s a song that doesn’t get sung at karaoke bars all that much, making it a great song choice. I’ve always loved singing this song with my good friends Chili and Patrick, as we create the perfect band, with harmony vocals and inflatable musical instruments and everything! (Hot 100 #1, AC #18, 1976)
She’s Always A Woman by Billy Joel. Yet another piano driven ballad is a “go to” karaoke choice of mine! With a song that is so melancholic, angsty, and bitter, you wouldn’t expect it to include some wonderful humming moments for the singer and audience, but it does, and that makes it a winner for karaoke. And I think many of us can relate to the lyrics, for better or for worse! (Hot 100 #17, AC #2, 1978)
I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) by Daryl Hall & John Oates. One of those songs that is instantly recognizable from the first couple of beats, this song generates lots of excitement before a single word is sung. And this song really seems to have cross generational appeal, which is pretty cool to this Generation Xer. As a singer, I love the melody and intricacies of the song, and the repeat chorus lines. The song does feature some higher notes, so I don’t attempt to sing it when my allergies are not behaving themselves! “No can do” when the flowers are in bloom! (Hot 100 #1, AC #12, 1981)
Making Love Out Of Nothing At All by Air Supply. I’ve seen Air Supply in concert at least five times now, and I can’t wait to see them again! Every single one of their songs is about love, and it’s a tried and true recipe that’s worked well for them for more than 40 years. When love is in the air at the karaoke bar, or one is hoping for it to be, Air Supply music provides the perfect accompaniment and soundtrack. I love this particular song, as it features that Jim Steinman production quality, where it starts oh so softly and builds to a glorious crescendo at the end! Much like Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, songs that have a dramatic arc are fabulous for karaoke adventures as they really allow the singer and the audience to feel and act out all the emotions. Sometimes, this song can even get people out on the dance floor! Warning, there are some high notes in this one, but they are worth striving for! (Hot 100 #2, AC #2, 1983)
Wake Me Up Before You Go Go by Wham! It’s important to have at least one pure confection in your karaoke repertoire! This classic by Wham! certainly fits the bill. It’s upbeat, effervescent, and checks all the boxes for a song that will get the crowd moving, grooving, and singing along! And, it’s one of the songs that helps us to remember just how talented the late great George Michael really was. (Hot 100 #1, AC #4, 1984)
Take On Me by a-ha. It’s unfortunate that the Norwegian group a-ha hasn’t been recognized for more than just this one song here in the states, but it is a great song for karaoke purposes! Like the aforementioned song by Wham!, this is another pure pop confection that everyone knows, whether young or old, but, it has some incredibly high notes, that are not for the week at heart, or suffering sinus issues! (Hot 100 #1, AC #4, 1985)
Your Love by The Outfield. I love to sing the high notes on this one! It’s got some fantastic high vocal range, and it’s a song that seems to resonate with a lot of members of the younger demographics. This song is fun to sing with a few people, to provide the background vocals. I’ve always enjoyed singing this with my good friends Bill and Chili. The lyrics of the song are fairly nasty, but musically it’s very enjoyable to sing! Maybe because the song sounds so good, no one ever pays much attention to the lyrics? Much like a-ha, The Outfield have a library of other fantastic songs in their catalog, but for whatever reason, only this song charted well here in the U.S.! (Hot 100 #6, Rock #7, 1986)
Take Your Mama by Scissor Sisters. it’s uncanny just how much this song sounds like early Elton John! The first time I heard it, I thought it was a song by Sir Elton that I never heard before. Then I found out that it’s a new group that is most definitely channeling him! The song features quirky lyrics, a fantastic back beat, soaring vocals and is just plain fun to sing. This song also works very well in live band karaoke venues where it is really kicked up a notch!
All These Things That I’ve Done by The Killers. One of the newer songs in my repertoire, in addition to Take Your Mama, this song is from 2004. It’s important to have at least one anthemic song in your karaoke library and this is one is my go to choice. Although this song is relatively recent, it has a very “classic” feel to it. Like several other songs on this list, it starts off quietly and softly, building to a dramatic crescendo at the end. The song works really well when sung by two or three people, especially towards the end when you’ve got that explosion of repeated vocals. (Hot 100 #74, 2004)
That's my list, always subject to evolving, of course. What are your go-to-karaoke songs? Looking forward to the day when I can meet up with friends in person for a good karaoke session, or two, or three. Stay safe, everyone!