If you ask any pianist who performs at a piano bar, he'll tell you that the top songs in his repertoire are the ones that garner the most requests. The best and most popular piano bar songs span numerous genres, have been widely recognized by the music industry and music critics for their appeal, and appear on multiple lists which are compiled by pianists who play at these bars. These songs are presented in no particular order; they're all real crowd pleasers.
1. Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
A staple of the Southern rock genre, Sweet Home Alabama has found its way into piano bars across the nation and consistently ranks as a perennial audience favorite. With its infectious chorus, this song is irresistible as a piano bar sing-along, especially when sung at top volume. Ultimate Classic Rock puts Sweet Home Alabama in the number two spot on their Top Ten Southern Rock Songs list.
2. Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard
Piano purists might consider Pour Some Sugar on Me, a heavy metal song associated with squealing electric guitars, decidedly off-kilter as a song for tickling the ivories. Piano bar audiences, as well as the pianists themselves, would clearly disagree since the song is included on numerous lists of best piano bar songs. In Rolling Stone's reader poll of the best hair metal songs of all time, Pour Some Sugar on Me sits proudly at number one.
3. Joy to the World by Three Dog Night
Joy to the World is so singable that even Jeremiah the Bullfrog himself might enjoy croaking along with it at a piano bar. With its catchy tune and silly but lovable lyrics, this classic rock hit is guaranteed to make people sing. Joy to the World spent six weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971.
4. Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison
With its captivating melody, Brown Eyed Girl is a classic rock song you'll want to request on your next trip to a piano bar. Performers who entertain at piano bars regularly cite the song as a favorite with their audiences, largely due to this tune's croonable chorus with its liberal doses of "sha la la tee da." In 2007, Brown Eyed Girl was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
5. Escape (The Pina Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes
Escape, better known to many people as the Pina Colada Song, has an unconventional structure with three different choruses, but that doesn't stop it from being a top-ranked song at piano bars. The catchy soft rock tune speaks to people's craving for romance and adventure and encourages them to sing their hearts out. Escape was awarded the number three position on VH1's list of the 40 Most Softsational Soft Rock Songs.
6. Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-Lot
A comical and risqué rap song about female anatomy would seem an unlikely candidate to morph into a favorite at piano bars, but there's simply no denying the popularity of Baby Got Back with audiences. This one's a real crowd-pleaserwhen performed by a pianist with musical skill and showmanship. Baby Got Back is listed as number seventeen on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs.
7. Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks
Friends in Low Places is a demanding song to sing since its melody requires a two-octave vocal range. Low notes and high notes are no obstacle for fans of piano bars, though, who consistently request the appealing country song in droves for heartfelt sing-alongs. Friends in Low Places won the 1991 Single of the Year award from both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.
8. Don't Stop Believin' by Journey
The chorus to Don't Stop Believin' doesn't surface until near the end of the song, but in the meantime, there's one heck of a build-up, both vocally and instrumentally. The quirky structure of this classic rock hit is no doubt a factor in its popularity at piano bars, along with the gritty message of hope in its lyrics. Don't Stop Believin' is the best-selling song in digital format that hails from pre-digital times.
9. Benny and the Jets by Elton John
It should come as no surprise to any piano lover that an Elton John song would rank high on lists of favorite piano bar songs. With Benny and the Jets, pianists can show off their artistry at the keyboard while sweeping audiences away with the sheer singability of this pop rock tune. Benny and the Jets was a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974.
10. Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N Roses
When you think about Welcome to the Jungle, you probably think about shrieking electric guitars and pounding drums, but piano bar audiences regularly request this thumping, heavy metal tune. It takes a special wizardry at the piano to pull this one off, but when it works, it works fabulously, and nobody can resist singing along. Welcome to the Jungle ranks nineteenth on Martin Popoff's list of the Top 500 Heavy Metal Songs of All Time.
11. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
It takes a skillful and imaginative pianist to showcase the wonder of Bohemian Rhapsody, a classic rock tune that's about as funky and inventive as a progressive rock song can get. When talented musicians at piano bars bring this song to life for audiences, people love it and will request it as often as they can get it. Bohemian Rhapsody is included on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
12. Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf
Born to be Wild is often thought of as a biker song with its open-road lyrics and heavy metal power chords. At piano bars, though, it has become a staple with audiences all over the nation singing its simple-but-potent refrain with everything they've got. On Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, Born to Be Wild is listed at number 130.
13. One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer by George Thorogood
What better song could there be to croon along with in a bar than One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer? This famous blues tune has taken on a life of its own in piano bars where entertainers enjoy interpreting it for piano, and audiences love singing its intoxicating refrain. Ultimate Classic Rock ranks George Thorogood's version of the song at number nine on its list of Top Whiskey Songs.
14. Brick House by The Commodores
Brick House, a funk song from the 1970s, features a smooth, groovy rhythm and hilarious lyrics that beg for comic antics and revelry. As a sing-along, it's loads of fun, and people love to dance to it. No wonder it's a favorite at piano bars with its sky-high entertainment quotient. In 1977, Brick House hit the number five spot on Billboard's Hot 100.
15. Bad, Bad Leroy Brown by Jim Croce
The lyrics of Bad, Bad Leroy Brown tell a story about a tough guy who flirts with the wrong woman and gets taken down more than a few notches by her husband. The goofy chorus, with its references to junkyard dogs and King Kong, are fun for audiences to sing, which makes this folk song a hit at piano bars. Bad, Bad Leroy Brown went to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973.
16. Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett
With its catchy tune and mellow lyrics about a fellow who is seriously indulging in an alcoholic drink, you can't beat Margaritaville as a bar song, especially a piano bar song. It's a country tune that audiences tend to know by heart, and it pops up on numerous lists of songs that people like to request. Margaritaville was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016.
17. You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC
Next time you're at a piano bar, request the heavy metal classic You Shook Me All Night Long, and watch the crowd get on its feet. The song is a top request at piano bars and familiar to almost everyone. When pianists play it passionately with an entire roomful of people singing along, chances are good you'll never miss the blazing guitar riffs. You Shook Me All Night Long sits at number two on Loudwire's list of the 10 Catchiest Metal Songs.
18. Old Time Rock and Roll by Bob Seger
There's no doubt about it; you can't beat Old Time Rock and Roll, whether it's the song or the genre, and Bob Seger's classic rock tune has become one of the most commonly made requests in piano bars. The song lends itself well to showmanship at the piano, and audiences couldn't resist singing along even if they tried. Old Time Rock and Roll is included at number 639 on Rock n Roll America's list of the Top 1000 Classic Rock Songs.
19. Piano Man by Billy Joel
It will come as a shock to no one that Piano Man, the quintessential piano bar tune, continues to be one of the most popular songs at piano bars. In the decades since Piano Man helped make Billy Joel a household name, this soft rock hit has been played at piano bars across the country, and it'll doubtlessly remain a staple as long as piano bars exist. In 2016, Piano Man was included in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry for its cultural importance.
20. With a Little Help From My Friends by Joe Cocker
The Beatles wrote With a Little Help From My Friends, but Joe Cocker's version, with his raspy and heartfelt singing style, no doubt helps motivate fans of the song to make it a top request at piano bars. This classic rock song with its heaping helping of soul never fails to make people want to pour their hearts out around the piano. With a Little Help From My Friends was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001.
21. American Pie by Don McLean
The most popular requests at piano bars tend to be upbeat songs which help people forget their cares. American Pie, though, represents something of a departure. It's a melancholy yet catchy folk rock tune that pays tribute to Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, and J.P. Richardson, who died in a 1959 plane crash. American Pie occupies the number five slot on the Recording Industry Association of America's list of the Top 365 Songs of the Twentieth Century.
22. The Real Slim Shady by Eminem
You'd think The Real Slim Shady, as a rapid-fire rap song, would pose a challenge for musicians at piano bars. No doubt it does, but the song gets requested a lot, so performing pianists get to come up with their own unique, keyboard-based interpretations of Eminem's hit. The sheer number of syllables that Eminem fits into the song is surely part of the fun for audiences who sing along. In 2001, The Real Slim Shady garnered Eminem a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance.
23. Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis
Nobody can rock out at the piano quite like Jerry Lee Lewis, also known as the Killer. At piano bars far and wide, pianists honor his killer chops by hamming up the classic rockabilly tune Great Balls of Fire for their audiences, and it never fails to bring the house down. Great Balls of Fire is one of the best-selling singles in the world, selling over five million copies.
24. Livin' on a Prayer by Bon Jovi
Back in the 1980s, Livin' on a Prayer was one of the most successful songs of that decade, and its legacy continues. Today it's still a hit in piano bars all across the country. Pianists report that audiences love to sing this iconic hard rock song, and people also love to see how its guitar-driven style will be reproduced on the piano keyboard. Livin' on a Prayer hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1986 and is widely regarded as Bon Jovi's signature song.
25. Fire and Rain by James Taylor
Fire and Rain is another highly requested song which bucks the trend of upbeat sing-alongs. Its poignant lyrics are married to a lilting, melancholy melody, and the combination is like a magnet for piano bar audiences who likely find some catharsis for their own sorrows in singing this gentle, soft rock tune. Fire and Rain is ranked number 82 on BMI's list of the Top 100 Songs of the Century.
26. Mustang Sally by Wilson Pickett
Rhythm and blues is another genre that works well at piano bars, as evidenced by the popularity of Mustang Sally, a well-loved song with a seductive, bluesy hook. The chorus, with its easy musical groove and lyrical repetition, is a great one for gathering around the piano and crooning all night. Mustang Sally made it to number 441 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
27. Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond
If you're a baseball fan, you've probably heard Sweet Caroline enthusiastically sung by fans at games, which will also give you some idea of its strong popularity at piano bars. Whether at baseball games or piano bars, audiences can't resist singing out "dum, dum, dum" in the chorus of this soft rock song. In 2014, Sweet Caroline was digitally downloaded two million times.
28. Devil Went Down to Georgia by Charlie Daniels
Devil Went Down to Georgia tells the tale of a young, sassy fiddle player who goes up against the devil to prove his skill, but talented pianists with a flair for innovation can also make this hard-edged country song shine. No wonder the song shows up with great frequency at piano bars; it's not only great fun to sing, it's also quite a toe-tapper. In 1979, Devil Went Down to Georgia spent an astonishing fourteen weeks at the top of the Billboard country charts.
29. The Way You Look Tonight by Fred Astaire
The Way You Look Tonight is a popular standard that was written in 1936 and has been covered by a tremendous number of artists, including Fred Astaire, Nat King Cole, and Tony Bennett. As a classic crooner's song, it's still going strong today and is one of the most requested songs in piano bars across the country. The Way You Look Tonight sits at number 43 on the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Songs list.
30. Twist and Shout by The Beatles
Made famous by The Beatles, Twist and Shout is a singable and danceable classic rock song that's a consistent hit with audiences at piano bars. Its rhythm is downright contagious, and the simple, catchy melody will make you want to twist and shout all night. The Beatles' version of Twist and Shout reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964.
Sing Along and Have Fun
No doubt about it, a piano bar isn't the place to be shy. When professional musicians show off their chops and extensive repertoires at piano bars, they're looking for nothing less than wholehearted audience involvement. So prepare your requests for crowd-pleasing songs, and then get ready to sing along and have a rocking good time.