Whether you're holding karaoke night for yourself and a group of friends or heading out to a local bar for karaoke fun, there are lots of songs that you're likely to hear every time. These songs are favorites of karaoke crooners everywhere, and chances are that you've performed a few of them yourself at one time or another.
Choosing Popular Karaoke Tunes
Determining which songs to include in a list of the most popular for karaoke is a complicated task. It's impossible to include all regional favorites, for example, or determine which tracks are hits in all foreign countries. Fortunately, however, there is lots of data collected by karaoke companies, music download sites, and respected news agencies and websites. These lists, including those from the US Karaoke Alliance, Sounds Entertainment, Red Karaoke, and the UK's Lucky Voice as reported by Prefix, were compared and sorted to find the top songs in several genres. Other sources were also used, and these are noted where applicable.
Most Popular Rock Songs
Rock songs have long been a staple in any karaoke playlist, from guitar-driven rockers to power ballads. These songs are popular because they're catchy and almost everyone knows them.
- Don't Stop Believin' by Journey - Journey's classic song sits at number four on the US Karaoke Alliance list, and appears on several others including the most requested list from Mental Floss. Don't Stop Believin' makes a bit of a sales comeback every time it's used in a popular film, but it never seems to fall out of favor as a hot track for karaoke fans.
- Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi - Bon Jovi offers up the kind of guitar-based, easy to sing along with rock and roll that attracts karaoke performers in droves. The karaoke companies referenced above agree that Wanted Dead or Alive is one of their most requested tracks, though others, including the UK's Telegraph newspaper, name Livin' on a Prayer as their top Bon Jovi pick.
- Creep by Radiohead - Anyone who has ever attended karaoke night at a pub has heard someone attempt this song by Radiohead. Creep features some vocal dynamics that sound really good when performed by the right person, but in the wrong hands it gets mangled easily.
- Black Velvet by Alannah Myles - 1990's Black Velvet appears on nearly every "most popular" list of karaoke favorites. It's an obvious choice for women who are looking for a rocking song by a female artist.
- Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen - American karaoke singers love to rally the crowd with this Springsteen classic, giving the audience a chance to join in for the chorus. Born in the USA is a top pick from Mental Floss and Sounds Entertainment.
Country Karaoke Favorites
Country music is arguably the simplest genre to sing along with. That's because, overall, the music is focused more on telling a compelling story than delivering a powerhouse vocal performance, making it the perfect medium for karaoke enthusiasts.
- Before He Cheats by Carrie Underwood - American Idol winner Carrie Underwood has enjoyed great success with her solo career, and this is one of her most famous tunes. Before He Cheats is a heartfelt tune that, according to the US Karaoke Alliance, is the second most popular karaoke song ever.
- Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks - Garth Brooks had an instant hit on his hands with Friends in Low Places, and the song lends itself particularly well to karaoke, especially for groups of two or more guys singing together. This track appears on most lists of often-requested karaoke songs.
- Love Story by Taylor Swift - Red Karaoke names this Taylor Swift hit as their most-downloaded country karaoke song. While Ms. Swift may have her ups and downs with her own love life, her music seems to have won the hearts of many.
- Crazy by Patsy Cline - This is a country music standby, and with good reason. Iconic vocals and a haunting melody make Crazy a great choice to perform. Karaoke companies, as well as online music retailer Sing Music, list this track near the top of their lists.
- Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash - It's not easy to fill the shoes of The Man in Black, but plenty of karaoke performers enjoy trying. Folsom Prison Blues, one of Cash's most popular and well-known songs, is also popular with karaoke singers according to the karaoke companies.
Popular Pop Songs
Pop music covers a wide range of styles, so it's no surprise that the top karaoke songs are very different from one another. It's always worth checking out the pop offerings on karaoke night to find something fun to sing. The following songs sit at or near the top of several karaoke favorites list.
- Someone Like You by Adele - Adele has a lovely voice and her songs have become huge hits. Someone Like You was named the most popular karaoke song in the United Kingdom according to Lucky Voice, accounting for 7.4% of all karaoke music plays. In the United States, Mental Floss also chose the song for their list.
- Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-A-Lot - If you're looking for some fun lyrics to sing with a group, this is it. Baby Got Back is a funny, crowd pleasing song that can get a lot of laughs.
- Like a Prayer by Madonna - The Material Girl has been strutting her stuff for decades and she shows no signs of slowing down. While it's one of her earlier hits, Like a Prayer remains one of the most played karaoke tunes.
- Love Shack by the B-52s - Love Shack is a great song for two or more people to sing together, especially if there are both men and women performing. You can ham it up as much as you'd like with this tune, since the original artists certainly do!
- Waterloo/ Dancing Queen by ABBA - The continuing allure of ABBA isn't really surprising. Their songs are catchy, easy to sing along with, and by now most people already know the lyrics to at least one song. Both Dancing Queen and Waterloo are popular songs for karaoke in the US and the UK.
Great Karaoke Duets
Singing karaoke with a partner can be great fun, and you'll have a little extra confidence performing if you're able to share the mic with someone. The following duets are perfect for pairs, whether you're on a romantic date or just hanging out with a friend.
- Picture by Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock - This song is listed in the number one spot on the US Karaoke Alliance list, and also places well on the others. The song tells of former lovers who are wasting their lives away with addictions and other relationships while they miss each other, so it may not be the best tune to choose on a first date.
- Summer Nights by Olivia Newton John and John Travolta - Many of the songs from Grease are frequent karaoke faves, and this one is a great duet to have fun with. It appears on many lists, including sitting at number three on the Karaoke Alliance chart.
- (I've Had the) Time of My Life by Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley - KaraokeWhere places this song at the top of their list of most popular karaoke duets. From the movie Dirty Dancing, the tune is an upbeat and happy song that couples can enjoy singing together.
- Don't Go Breaking My Heart by Elton John and Kiki Dee - Believe it or not, this 1970s standby is still really popular amongst karaoke enthusiasts, appearing on several "best of" lists.
- Broken by Seether and Amy Lee - For couples who like to rock, this is the perfect duet to sing on karaoke night. Featuring hard rockers Seether and Evanescence vocalist Amy Lee, Broken is both haunting and lovely though it can be quite challenging for novices.
Expand Your Karaoke Playlist
Most karaoke enthusiasts have a list of songs that are tried and true, but it can be lots of fun to explore new genres and different songs. Try adding a few of these popular karaoke tracks to your repertoire and see how much you enjoy the challenge of something outside your wheelhouse.