Done right, karaoke can be romantic, hilarious, epic, sentimental, joyous, and of course, drunk. Countless rock brands including some of the memorable male and female vocalists of all time have inspired generations with their musical prowess, so no wonder their songs have become staples of the karaoke circuit. Ask any music lover community for their favorite songs to sing at karaoke and you’d more likely to get a myriad of songs for almost every occasion. When it’s time to let loose and express yourself, there’s a special song for that that truly resonate. We’ve put together a playlist of the best karaoke songs of all time featuring party songs, hip-hop hits, love tracks, rock anthems, etc.
“Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey
Karaoke isn’t about quality – it’s about having a good time. And there’s no denying thousands of people each year unironically rally around a structurally odd, lyrically obtuse rock anthem from America’s least hip chart-topper ever. There’s something about the song that makes it stand out, three-plus decades later. “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey is the most over-sung songs in karaoke history. This might as well just be the perfect feel-good sing-along. Originally released as a single, “Don’t Stop Believin” is a song by the American rock band “Journey” from their seventh studio album “Escape”.
“Purple Rain” by Prince
This eight-minute long classic is arguably Prince’s most famous song and is the perfect fist pumping song for those emotional moments of life. Prince once explained the meaning of “Purple Rain” as “When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue equals purple – purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith guide you through the purple rain.” This song is as massive, lush and emotional as a power ballad could get in the mid-80’s, combining the forces of his many sounds by blending hard rock with pop, R&B and funk to make the song feel excitingly thrilling at every listen.
“Like a Prayer” by Madonna
American singer Madonna takes sex to the church in the title track of her 1988’s studio album of the same name. “Like a Prayer” is a great pop rock song with elements of gospel music and a choir provides background vocals that heighten the song’s spiritual nature, while a rock guitar keeps the music dark and mysterious. This was the first song by a major artist to be used in a commercial before being released to stores or radio stations. The song is plenty inflammatory enough in its conflation of religious fervor and fellatio. Predictably, religious groups were outraged, with the American Family Association and The Vatican condemning it. But rest assured the important thing is to get everybody to sing and clap along.
“Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi
You must have heard “Livin’ on a Prayer” on several occasions in your lifetime. But there’s something magical about the song that gets people singing at the top of their lungs each and every time. So leaving the karaoke crowd favorite of this list is out of the question. This triple-platinum smash is the rare song that can please both the pop and rock crowds. This is a genuine Bon Jovi classic which usually ends up with several guys screaming into the mic doing their best Axel Rose impersonation. Put this track on and pretty soon everyone from the most jaded hipsters to their mothers will be singing right along with you.
“Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye
Nothing packs a room all worked up like Marvin Gaye’s quintessential call to – and for – action. With each lyric a come-on and each rhythm throbbing with lust, perhaps no other record has even achieved the kind of sheer erotic force of “Let’s Get It On” which remains a blueprint for all the slow jams to follow decades later. The album has been regarded by many music writers and critics as a landmark recording in soul music. It furthered funk music’s popularity during the 1970s and its smooth soul sound marked a change for his record label’s previous success with the “Motown Sound” formula. With this marvelous track throwing curve balls around, your chances of leaving the bar alone just decreased from zero to none.
“Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler
This was the first record by a Welsh artist to top the US chart which also entered the UK charts at #1, making Bonnie Tyler the first female singer to do so. It was described as “one of the finest ballads ever to hit radio” by Mike DeGagne from AllMusic. The gothic video, with Bonnie Tyler clad all in white, was story-boarded by Jim Steinman and was inspired by the film Future World, the follow-up to the Yul Brunner futuristic thriller Westworld. A long-running urban legend suggests the boy who appears throughout the video and who shakes Tyler’s hand at the end is former Italian footballer Gianfranco Zola, however, in an interview in 2012, Zola confirmed that he did not appear in the video.
“Private Eyes” by Hall & Oates
The Philadelphia duo’s successful blend of R&B, soul and new wave, plus a knack for buoyant melodies led to the massive commercial and critical success during the ‘70s and ‘80s. “Private Eyes” is a 1981 single by the infamous duo Hall & Oates and the title track from their album of that year. This single was the group’s third of six number one hits, and their second number one hit of the 1980s. There’s something special about the tune that makes this fantastic track clearly one of the favorites of karaoke clan. The video featured the band dressed as detectives and was the first to feature the backup band of guitarist G.E. Smith, bassist Tom “T-Bone” Wolk, drummer Mickey Curry, and keyboardist Charles DeChant. The bouncy groove, smooth as silk harmonies and indispensable hand claps make “Private Eyes” the clear favorite.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen is one of the strangest, most inspired and least-understood songs in the history of rock. The song moves from ballad to guitar solo to opera to hard rock. You probably never have heard so much variety in style in a rock song. The song moves through different stages of emotion, a moving lament and a moment of extreme silliness at the same time – which is part of the reason it’s equally loved by young kids and old rockers alike. Like all the best and most iconic song titles, “Bohemian Rhapsody” has generated its fair share of puns and references over years
“I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys
“I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys is the definition of a perfect pop song, but have you ever noticed that the lyrics are utterly nonsensical, owing to Swedish producer and songwriter Max Martin’s tenuous grasp of English. The pop ballad talks about a relationship strained by matters of emotional or physical distance. The song was one of the Backstreet Boys signature songs and one of the most praised songs by the group. There are a lot of songs out there that don’t make sense and the lyrics of which are utterly gibberish, but they still make you feel good when you sing along to them, and “I Want It That Way” is one of them.
“Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen
There’s something about the lush instrumentation of the track that makes for a great karaoke classic, and no one knows this better than the Boss. Released in 1975, “Born to Run” is a song by Bruce Springsteen and the title track of his album of the same name. It’s a classic rock love song about a young couple dreaming of a better place than New Jersey and using love to escape the town that “rips the bones from your back.” The song and the album upon release became unparalleled successes for Springsteen, springing him into stardom and resulting in simultaneous cover stories in Time and Newsweek magazines. The song ranked number 21 on the Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.