The 10 Songs You’ll Hear at Karaoke Night

Friday night. 11:30 pm. After an evening of babysitting, I am on my way to meet friends at a karaoke bar. Am I tired? Yes. Is it a little late in the evening to frantically apply makeup, fix my hair, and put on clothes that are not sweatpants? Absolutely not.

You see, I’m a big fan of karaoke. How many things can you do poorly in front of an audience and they will still cheer for you? How often do you get to release your inner rock diva in public and it is an acceptable occurrence? That, my friends, is the power of karaoke.

Throughout my life, I’ve spent a great deal of time at different venues offering this particular form of entertainment. With that being said, I think that I can make the claim that I am an expert on the subject. That is why I have decided to write this list… the ten songs that you are likely to hear on any given karaoke night. Although it depends on the crowd, my wager is that approximately 80% of this list will be heard. Here we go:


1. Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi

Who doesn’t want to sing this song? If there is anyone who doesn’t like Livin’ on a Prayer, I would like to meet them so that I can punch them in the face. Next time you’re in the hot seat, and are being forced to make a song selection, know that you cannot go wrong with this lil’ number. The crowd will be singing along so loudly that you won’t even have to attempt sounding good, and you can just practice your sweet 80s rock dance moves on stage.


2. Don’t Stop Believing – Journey

Same premise as Livin’ on a Prayer. Sing it loud and proud, because this is a definite crowd favorite. Nobody dislikes this song. If you are reading this and find yourself saying, “Actually, Jessica, I hate Don’t Stop Believing” then it’s probably because you stopped believing and you now live a very sad and lonely life. How does it feel to have disappointed Journey?


3. Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-a-Lot

I like big butts and I cannot lie. So does almost everyone else, apparently, because as soon as you hear two girls jealously talking smack about a girl who is probably “one of those rap guys’ girlfriends” everyone cheers and is happy to sing the praises of large bootyhood. Also, Donkey from Shrek sang this gem, proving that even cartoon animals have an excellent understanding of what songs were made for karaoke stardom.


4. Friends in Low Places – Garth Brooks

Let’s face it. We all have friends in low places. Chances are, if you are at a location in which you are selecting this song, and handing your request to the KJ, a few of those friends are probably with you. So put on your best I-sound-intoxicated voice (or your normal voice if you are intoxicated) and grace the room with this ode to your lowly comrades.


5. Love Shack – The B52s

Who cares if you don’t know what “Tin roof rusted” means, and the logistics of a Chrysler that seats about 20 are not quite sound? This is a duet made in karaoke heaven. You get to use the silly man voice, and that’s pretty fun. Only one person even has to sing, which makes it a perfect selection for the karaoke junkie who is dragging their novice friend up to the stage with them kicking and screaming.


6. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond

Three words… BAH BAH BAAHHHH! I guess those are sounds. Regardless, if you want a song with some crowd interaction, you’ve hit the jackpot. You still get to show your vocal prowess in the verses, and each chorus will bring an affirmation from the crowd that your song choice was a good one. (So good! So good!)


7. Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler

There are two different ways that this song might be sung, but bright eyes will definitely be asked to turn around. Some people take this song very seriously, and you will be treated to a very emotional ballad. I’ve even seen a woman cry while performing this one. I much prefer the light hearted and overdramatic approach in which the f-bomb is dropped a few times for emphasis. Oh, and there needs to be interpretive dancing. It’s a slow song with a long instrumental break. Dancing keeps it entertaining.


8. Summer Nights – From the musical Grease

Do I really need to tell you more? It’s the most common duet I’ve ever heard performed. The crowd will also offer you more backup singers than you will ever need. Also be prepared for an ear piercing and slightly off key finish at the end of the niiiiiiiiiiigghhhhhttttt.


9. I Love Rock and Roll – Joan Jett

Yes, we all love rock and roll, and there is usually a lady in the room willing to profess this love on the mic. This is the one song on the list that I would qualify as “sexy” choice. At least, that’s what the singer will think. If you choose this song, chances are you will be making seductive eye contact with the physically desirable members of the audience. You might also attempt some very stripper-like dance moves.


10. AC/DC, Kiss, Guns N’ Roses

Yeah, I know those are bands. I also know that I put three of them there. “Jessica, you’re messing up the idea of making a list of ten things!” No I’m not, and this is my party so deal with it. I did it this way because this is a tricky one to nail down. These artists are just going to be on the docket at karaoke night, so they are all number ten. Which one of the bands or which of the songs will be selected is tough to say, but rest assured that you will rock and roll all night while driving on the highway to hell before you are welcomed to the jungle.


There you have it. Did I miss anything? Let me know if you have any changes or additions to the list!


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