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The 50 best karaoke songs ever

Warm up those vocal cords, take a swig of something strong and show us what you've got

Here's a fact for you: People like singing together. Always have. From an elegant croonfest around a piano or a down-home sing-along by a campfire to a hands-in-the-air church celebration or, hell, some kind of weird medieval lute-accompanied ceremony we can but dream of, singing together is a thing humans are into. So it makes sense that karaoke is among the world's most loved leisure activities. Done right, karaoke can be hilarious ("Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" by Wham!), romantic (Al Green's "Let's Stay Together"), cute ("Happy" by Pharrell Williams), epic, joyous, sentimental and, of course, drunk. We've put together a playlist of the greatest karaoke songs available to humans and sequenced them for a pitch-perfect karaoke experience featuring party songs, breakup songs, hip-hop hits, rock anthems and duets. We guarantee you no energy slumps or boredom breaks here—just top-notch sing-yer-heart-out goodness. So grab the mike, knock back your drink and panic-eat a handful of chips in one mouthful: It's time to take the stage, tiger.

RECOMMENDED: More karaoke in Los Angeles

“Summer Nights” by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John

“Summer Nights” by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John

It's strange to consider this Grease earworm merely a duet, because the entire room is guaranteed to shout the "tell me more!" bits, right down the gender divide. "Summer Nights" turns your dingy bar into a Broadway (okay, well, high-school musical) chorus line. In fact, you Sandys and Dannys are going to need Sonnys and Rizzos, too. This is an all-hands-on-deck, full-cast number. That way the awkwardness of realizing how the tune is dated and mildly misogynistic is spread around evenly.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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“I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by the Darkness

“I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by the Darkness

Few bands have mined the ‘80s hair metal aesthetic with as much cheeky sincerity as the Darkness. Their full embrace of this-goes-to-11 guitar riffs and Vince Neil sartorial choices comes slyly undercut by the knowingly goofy heart-on-sleeve songwriting. This one is solidly in the center of the karaoke Venn diagram. Technical prowess isn't really the play here, though you'll definitely garner respect for summiting all those falsetto peaks. Just plant one foot on top of the monitor cabinet, engage hip-shake and feel the love take hold.—Bryan Kerwin

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“Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson

“Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson

You want to sing some Michael Jackson, of course, but which Michael Jackson? It has to be "Billie Jean." Watch your buddies' faces light up when that perfectly crisp, economical beat kicks in; relish every ounce of drama in the tortured vocal in the verses; and fully expect your audience to join in on the "heeeeeeeeee-eeeeeee"s that build up to the chorus. Exit the floor moonwalking, with your shiny jacket slung over one shoulder. Don't think twice.—Sophie Harris

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“These Boots are Made for Walkin’” by Nancy Sinatra

“These Boots are Made for Walkin’” by Nancy Sinatra

Sassy ladies (and hey, gents too), your moment has arrived! This sultry, defiant ’60s pop staple is among the crowning jewels of Sinatra's glittering collaborations with songwriter Lee Hazlewood and works best in performance when its singer is backed up by a troupe of go-go dancers. Bribe your friends.—Sophie Harris

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“Rehab” by Amy Winehouse

“Rehab” by Amy Winehouse

Right off the bat, you get the chorus: "They tried to make me go to rehab!" It's fantastic when pop songs do that, no dillydallying, no buildup. The audience will know immediately what you are singing, and they will respond, "No, no, no!" Of course, you must sing this completely blitzed out of your mind. Sobriety is to this tune what satanists are to gospel. If you don't fall off the stage by that final "I won't go," spilling into a cocktail table, ending the night in stains, you did it wrong.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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“Last Nite” by the Strokes

“Last Nite” by the Strokes

The Strokes are the greatest rock & roll band of the 21st century and perhaps, the way things are going, the last great rock & roll band. That being said, even as superfans, we have to admit Julian Casablancas's allure is that he is basically drunk-karaoke singing. The garage jangle of "Last Night" is as tightly composed and designed as Giorgio Moroder disco but deceptively dressed as a loose garage ramble, over which Casablancas mumble-howls. No need to even bother reading the lyrics. Swallow the microphone, "baby!"s and "last night!"s and you're golden.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones

“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones

That riff, a cross between a sitar and a revving dirt bike, is the most recognizable thing about the song. For such a ubiquitous hit, the lyrics continually surprise beyond the titular chorus. So much so that when Cat Power covered the tune in 2000, slicing off the refrain, it was a strange new poem about the anxiety of commercials and subliminal advertising. This from the first rock band to develop a brand logo, a pair of juicy red lips.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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“One Way or Another” by Blondie

“One Way or Another” by Blondie

Considering the song is about stalking, "One Way or Another" sure does show up in a lot of teen and children's entertainment. The new-wave classic has been covered by the Rugrats, the Chipmunks, Mandy Moore and One Direction. The dark nature of the tune gets lost in the neon glow of the guitars—much like how we are now foolishly nostalgic for dangerous late-'70s New York—and Debbie Harry's gender-swap vocals. Fair warning: A dude singing it is in danger of sounding all "it puts the lotion in the basket." But when karaoked by, say, Kristen Bell on Veronica Mars? Adorable!—Brent DiCrescenzo

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“Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer

“Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer

Okay, so this song made its name on its monster guitar riff. But with its esoteric, affecting lyrics and Rivers Cuomo’s bellowed “say it ain’t so, whoa, whoa,” it’s also a tune made for karaoke. The only problem you’ll have is figuring out where to stash the mike as you furiously air-guitar.—Gabrielle Bruney

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“I Love Rock & Roll” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

“I Love Rock & Roll” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Joan Jett’s signature tune is one of those classics that should feel overplayed but just can’t be resisted. Bold, brash and very limited in range, this track’s perfect for the karaokegoer who has more swagger than actual vocal ability and will get the room singing along—'cause after all, everyone loves rock & roll.—Gabrielle Bruney

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“Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot

“Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot

Like the Nostrodamus of butts, Sir Mix-a-Lot foresaw a future in which we’d all be as obsessed with ass as he is. Nicki Minaj sampled him heavily for “Anaconda,” J. Lo and Iggy Azalea gifted the world with a track simply titled “Booty,” and Kim Kardashian is a person who exists. No karaoke night is complete without a salute to the song that started it all.—Gabrielle Bruney

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“Drunk in Love” by Jay-Z and Beyonce

“Drunk in Love” by Jay-Z and Beyonce

Sure, it's a duet, but really you know who's wearing the pants (or at least, tiny underpants) here: This is Yoncé's joint, from its trap beats and shuddering subterranean bassline to the singer's febrile, sometimes cartoonish vocals ("grainin' on that wood"). Select this song for karaoke, and be prepared to go the distance with its delivery: not recommended for work parties.—Sophie Harris

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“The Boy is Mine” by Brandy and Monica

“The Boy is Mine” by Brandy and Monica

This super slinky 1998 number was guaranteed to be a hit for its singers—pitched as an "answer song" to MJ and Paul McCartney's 1982 duet "The Girl Is Mine," it played off the supposed rivalry between the two female R&B stars. But that's beside the point when you hear the song, which still sounds crisper and cooler than an icicle at a club in an igloo—and guarantees any karaoke singer the opportunity to channel his or her belligerent feelings into the musical expression of eyebrows raised and arms folded: "I'm sorry that you seem to be confused." Snap.—Sophie Harris

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“Just a Friend” by Biz Markie

“Just a Friend” by Biz Markie

On their album commentaries, the Beastie Boys love to tell tales of Biz Markie. The teddy-bear rapper would always need a "bag of candy" in the studio, or he would go out to buy said "bag of candy" and disappear for months. That's no surprise, as the MC is as irresistibly adorable as a dimpled kid dressed as Run-D.M.C. on your doorstep at Halloween. His dumb tunes are as sweet as Smarties. If the B-52s are salvation for those who can't sing, this old-school jam from '89, with its out of tune Freddie Scott hook, is a gift for those who can't sing or rap, whether by inebriation or genetics.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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“I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” by Michael McDonald

“I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” by Michael McDonald

Michael McDonald is the Christopher Walken of cocaine-dusted soft rock—everyone can (and loves to) do an impression of him, good or bad. He has a voice like a lumberjack's beard after eating a bucket of fried chicken, both scruffy and oily. To mimic it, pretend you are Chewbacca stepping into an ice bath up to your privates. More so than his Doobie Brothers gems, this 1982 bedroom jam offers a plethora of McDonald vocal tics, oodles of vowel schmears and breathy trembling. Bonus points if you can freestyle some verses from Warren G's "Regulate" on top of that sailboat groove.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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“Africa” by Toto

“Africa” by Toto

Let's face it: There's no way you can hit those high notes on the chorus, and no one—and we mean no one—has any idea what vocalist David Paich is carrying on about. ("Frightened of this thing that I've become," something about "[blessing] the rains," etc.) But man, is that fake-tribal verse smooth, and man, is that chorus melody sweet. This is one of those karaoke jams that gets the whole room singing along or at the very least trying its best.—Hank Shteamer

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“Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler

“Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler

There’s a reason no karaoke night in the history of ever has passed without someone shredding their upper register on "Total Eclipse of the Heart": This Jim Steinman–penned 1983 Brit hit may be the greatest power ballad ever recorded, packed with so much camp and theatricality that it can make a showman out of the most timid performer. Fun fact: Tyler got her signature growl by singing against doctor’s orders shortly after having surgery to remove nodules from her vocal cords. Maybe not the smartest move, but would the high-octane melodrama of her signature hit be the same without her raspy wail? We think not.—Gabrielle Bruney

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“What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes

“What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes

Linda Perry is best known today as a hit songwriter for artists like Christina Aguilera and Gwen Stefani, but back in 1992, she was the lead singer of 4 Non Blondes, the one-hit wonder behind this enduring favorite. Give yourself over to attitude as you belt out the confrontational lyrics. If you’re a Method karaoke type, here a tip: Imagine the song as the vocal equivalent of doing shots of whiskey at a kickass lesbian biker bar, then buying a round for everyone.—Adam Feldman

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“Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind

“Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind

Somebody's got to make with the required '90s nostalgia, so dive in head first. Every part of this alt-radio-rock classic seems tailor-made for group sing-alongs: the rat-a-tat half-rapped verses, the high-flying melodramatic chorus, the wordless “doo-doo-doo” refrain. And while “Doing crystal meth will lift you up until you break” may not touch on humanity's shared experience (though it reads as factually accurate), it is super fun to belt out alongside a roomful of half/mostly sauced friends and strangers.—Bryan Kerwin

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“We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel

“We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel

Let's make something clear right off the bat: “We Didn't Start the Fire” is not a good song. It's a vocal deluge of historical events, presented without context or commentary, and capped by a repetitive chorus that does nothing but confirm those things did indeed happen. Even Billy Joel has expressed disdain for it, and for those not keeping score, Billy Joel is the writer of this song. And yet, sometimes a bad song song makes a great karaoke song. The audience will be so transfixed wondering if you're going to nail the JFK part and fanning themselves over how much emotion you packed into the phrase “British politician sex,” it won't matter that “Ben Hur” and “Mafia” don't rhyme, no matter how you say them.—Bryan Kerwin

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“The Real Slim Shady” by Eminem

“The Real Slim Shady” by Eminem

Before Eminem was a fancy, Oscar-winning songwriter, he wrote this quick-witted 2000 fuck-you to the fame game. Though some of the references have staled—where are you now, Tom Green?—the song still sounds fresh. You may want to practice it at home before you try it, though, because there are a whole lot of words on that screen (not all of them accurate), and they go by super fast. For extra points, get everyone in the room to stand up at the end, Spartacus style.—Adam Feldman

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“Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

“Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Don’t let your lack of Alabama roots stop you from tackling this 1974 rock anthem: When you air-guitar the song’s two masterful solos, you’ll be mimicking California-bred ax wielder Ed King. Accept no imitations (looking at you, Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long”). That air-shred, by the way, is not optional.—Andrew Frisicano

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“Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley

“Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley

There’s a reason Elvis’s version is remembered over Mark James’s anemic original: The King understood that this is a song that needs to be bellowed, and legions of drunk karaoke enthusiasts have been doing exactly that for decades. A guaranteed stomp-along classic, it’s also a great song for single dudes who want to enlist the help of an attractive backup singer. Thank yuh verry much, purdy lad—Nick Leftley

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“Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green

“Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green

You’re not just measuring up to Al Green’s inimitable falsetto but this song’s most famous adapter, Barack Obama. In 2012, the POTUS broke into “Let’s Stay Together” during a fund-raiser at the Apollo Theater. The clip went viral, sending the 1971 single back up the charts. It’s been all downhill from there for No. 44. The Memphis man’s best single remains one of the greatest love songs, but there’s something about his buttery and bittersweet plea that implies the relationship is lost. Or perhaps that just the lingering memory of first term.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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“(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (to Party)” by Beastie Boys

“(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (to Party)” by Beastie Boys

There are few requirements involved in performing the Beastie Boys’ brazen ode to youthful rebellion. You must be awake. You must be able to read. The barrier to entry is low on this one, making it one of your easiest and best options for some sophomoric fun. It’s also highly recommended to have a gaggle of friends on stage all yelling with you into one microphone. But really, in the spirit of the song, there are no rules. If someone tries to tell you otherwise, throw a pie in their face.—Bryan Kerwin

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“(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin

“(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin

Just the sound of those opening piano chords is enough to send anyone with ears into a swoon, such is the singular beauty of this 1967 Goffin and King classic. The question is, do you have the pipes—or the chutzpah—to take it on? Aretha’s spine-tinglingly sung point here is that her man makes her feel like a red-blooded, musky, perfect-as-she-is woman, and she wants to bust open her heart to tell you this glorious truth. Sing it like a queen, or not at all.—Sophie Harris

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“Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac

“Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac

Stevie Nicks & Co. have racked up a litany of undeniable pop masterpieces during their four decades of breaking up with each other, but 1977’s Rumours remains their defining record, and “Go Your Own Way” their most dextrously majestic single. Whether you want to harness the track’s sublime kiss-off energy to escape or emphasize your own backstage drama is up to you, of course. But one thing is clear: It will be a duet.—Bryan Kerwin

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“Don’t You Want Me” by the Human League

“Don’t You Want Me” by the Human League

Commitment to this duet’s awesome narrative (she was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, etc.) is the key to karaoke success here—so don’t you worry if your singing is a little wonky on this 1981 synth-pop standout. Just put yourselves in the singers’ British shoes (and awesome ’80s outfits), channel their plaintive longing, and you’re golden.—Sophie Harris

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“Space Oddity” by David Bowie

“Space Oddity” by David Bowie

Bowie’s existential drive to expand rock & roll consciousness collided with humankind’s new found ability to explore its own physical limits in the late ’60s, producing one of music’s most fantastically idiosyncratic singles. Forget saccharine love ballads or weighty protest songs, here’s a psychedelic blues-folk short story about an astronaut getting lost in space, released nine days before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, and sung by a red-coiffed waif who might have been born there. On a more basic level, it’s simply a great tune. You can’t hear that introductory countdown and not immediately launch into “This is ground control to Major Tom!”—Bryan Kerwin

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“Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

“Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

When that opening calliope riff hits, everyone in the bar will know you’ve just cued up Smokey’s timeless ode to weepy bedroom solitude. To sell it, you’ll need to summon the gods of skyscraper-topping Motown vocals (the original was recorded at the famed label’s studio A) so why not take a tip from the pros. Legendary Apollo Theater performers like Robinson would rub a lucky tree stump before heading out on the stage. Find the nearest arboreal equivalent (most likely some formica paneling) and go for it.—Andrew Frisicano

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“Stand by Me” by Ben E. King

“Stand by Me” by Ben E. King

No karaoke outing is complete without a teary moment, and here's yours, courtesy of the 1961 classic "Stand by Me," which has been covered more than 400 times (no, we're not including your karaoke version in that count). Written by Ben E. King with song gods Leiber and Stoller, the song has its roots in a gospel standard called "Lord Stand by Me," and certainly its reach goes beyond regular pop romance—as evidenced by its inclusion in the 1986 right of passage movie Stand by Me. Watch, listen, sing, cry—oh, and enjoy.—Sophie Harris

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“Creep” by Radiohead

“Creep” by Radiohead

There's a cheap gimmick for scoring a pop hit: cursing in the chorus. The radio stations may have to bleep out the words, but we love belting out those f-bombs in cars and bars. It worked wonders for Cee Lo's "Fuck You" and Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl." Likewise, would Radiohead ever have been able to become Radiohead without that angsty refrain of "you're so fucking special" in 1994? Probably not. However, Johnny Greenwood's radical guitar interjection—chunk-unk!—turned the power chord into expletive and proved these guys were smarter than the text.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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“I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” by Meat Loaf

“I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” by Meat Loaf

Meat Loaf's hammy histrionics almost never come out of high gear, even when the tempo slows down. The album cut of his ornate 1993 hit clocks in at 12 minutes, with the innumerable verses referencing fire breathing, emerald cities and praying to the god of “sex & drums & rock n' roll.” The song's ostentatious, “Beauty and the Beast”–themed video was, obviously, directed by Michael Bay. It's so confident in its corny sentimentality that it's impervious to criticism. Queue this one up when you don't want to go big, you want to go huge.—Bryan Kerwin

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“You’ve Lost the Loving Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers

“You’ve Lost the Loving Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers

When it comes to musical moments in Top Gun, the greatest is undeniably Kenny Loggins's "Playing with the Boys" set against the homoerotic gloss of a beach volleyball game, but Cruise and Goose crooning the Righteous Brothers in a bar is probably more remembered. That scene is the genesis for every impulse to dial up this doo-wop in a karaoke parlor, because a 1986 fighter-jet movie remains more relevant than blue-eyed balladry produced by Phil Spector half a century ago. It's cheesy and effective, like Cruise himself. But heed the warning of Goose: "She's lost that loving feeling? I hate it when she does that."—Brent DiCrescenzo

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“Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi

“Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi

"Don’t Stop Believin'" has thankfully gone off to live at the retirement home for overplayed songs. But if you still want to belt an '80s arena-rock anthem about a couple of starry-eyed working-class kids just trying to get by, "Livin’ on a Prayer" is exactly what you’re looking for. Sure, your voice will crack after the key changes, but nobody will hear over the roar of the whole bar singing along.—Gabrielle Bruney

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“Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard

“Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard

"Gunter glieben glauten globen!" Huh? That's Rock of Ages, you say? Look, all Def Leppard smashes are the same, sex-craved kaiju with kick drums like empty cargo ships and blue balls falsetto, glossed up in producer Mutt Lange's Wall of Hairspray sound. You can gunter glieben glauten globen over any damn one you please. As you stand there onstage, looking around the bar for packets of sugar to dump on your head for dramatic effect, the heretofore unrealized inanity of the lyrics really sinks in. The song rhymes "tramp" with "video vamp." Who's pouring sugar on whom, and what exactly is a "radar phone"? Shut off your brain and air guitar.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

The high pomp of opera and the gutter circumstance of rock & roll tangle memorably in Queen’s classic 1975 art-rock epic. No one can sing like Freddie Mercury, of course, but the motley nature of the song—which segues from plaintive ballad and quasiclassical choral harmonies to guitar-driven rebel yell—means that pretty much anything goes, from melodramatic group sing-along (“Bismillah! No, we will not let you go!” “Let him go!”) to Wayne’s World–style head-thrashing.—Andrew Frisicano

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“Lean On Me” by Bill Withers

“Lean On Me” by Bill Withers

Sometimes you've got to try a little tenderness. After a night's worth of sloshed, screechy throat-clearing and failed attempts at long-forgotten rap verses, this huggy tribute to brotherly love will send your fellow humans out into the world with a warm and fuzzy feeling. The backing track is minimal, virtually a capella, so drop that mic and grab the shoulders of your closest compatriot. We'll all be united in the brief, shining moment before we have to wake up and reckon with which coworkers now possess incriminating photos of us.—Bryan Kerwin

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“Islands in the Stream” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton

“Islands in the Stream” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton

In 1978, the Bee Gees scored eight No. 1 hits, and their sales accounted for 2 percent of the entire music industry. By the end of 1979, disco records were being detonated in baseball stadiums and radio stations promoting "Bee Gee Free Weekends." Overnight, the Bee Gees were toxic commercially. So they wisely hid behind other artists. The plastic country of "Islands in the Stream," a disguised Gibbs brothers tune that topped the charts in 1983, sounds just like a cheap karaoke edition of a Bee Gees song that happens to have two country idols on top.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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“Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” by Wham!

“Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” by Wham!

File this one firmly under "utterly ridiculous," and enjoy every juicy second of it, from the deep-voiced "jitterbug" intro to the seemingly nonsensical chorus (George Michael told an interviewer back in the day that the line was lifted from a note Andrew Ridgeley left for his parents) via its ecstatic pop grooves. The song was released in 1984 and sums up the garish sunny side of the '80s to a T. For that matter, consider it your civic duty to go check out the video that features Michael and Ridgeley in iconic "Choose Life" T-shirts and teeny-tiny shorts.—Sophie Harris

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“Purple Rain” by Prince

“Purple Rain” by Prince

Now that our patron saint of frilly-bloused, pan-erotic, disco-rock-sex-funk has sadly shuffled off this mortal coil, his signature slow jam can serve as much as tribute as a “let's-slow-things-down” showpiece in your karaoke rep. If it's not too lofty to put that pressure on what is—let's face it—a mostly frivolous activity, a karaoke run at “Purple Rain” might even lift some spirits. Sung in a gracious middle key (Eb, as the preview screen helpfully reminds you) rather than Prince's frequent falsetto squeal, it should allow you to bare your soul without any embarrassing high-register mishaps.—Bryan Kerwin

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“Like a Prayer” by Madonna

“Like a Prayer” by Madonna

Madonna takes sex to church in the title track of her 1988 album. Even stripped of its cross-burning video, the song is plenty inflammatory enough in its conflation of religious fervor and fellatio. (“When you call my name it’s like a little prayer / I’m down on my knees, I wanna take you there.”) Whatever mix of piety and lust you bring to your own version, the important thing is to get the whole room to sing and clap along as your choir at the end, as you preach the passion of Madge.—Andrew Frisicano

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“Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye

“Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye

Nothing gets a room all worked up like Marvin Gaye's quintessential call to—and for—action. The arrangement throws some curve balls, eschewing a traditional verse-chorus structure in favor of a relaxed jam where Marvin can let loose with sultry riffs and primal howls, but a brave performer can use that to their advantage. Impress by inhabiting every provocative coo and rasp as they were recorded, or throw caution where your three sheets are and take off in your own direction. Either way your chances of leaving the bar alone just decreased 100%.—Bryan Kerwin

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“Private Eyes” by Hall & Oates

“Private Eyes” by Hall & Oates

While the Philadelphia duo has been retroactively, ironically embraced for their perceived cheesiness, the strength of Hall & Oates's diamond-sharp songwriting remains unassailable. The group's successful blend of R&B, soul and new wave, plus a knack for lithe, buoyant melodies led to massive commercial and critical success during the '70s and '80s. They racked up six number-one singles during their glory days, giving us a lot to choose from, but the insistent, bouncy groove, smooth-as-silk harmonies and indispensable hand claps make “Private Eyes” the clear favorite.—Bryan Kerwin

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“I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys

“I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys

Lurking behind the shimmery Nordic production of this megahit is a great soul ballad. The lyrics are famously nonsensical, owing to Swedish producer and songwriter Max Martin's tenuous grasp of English, but poetry's beside the point when you've got one of pop music's catchiest choruses. Kevin Richardson—BSB's “The Old One”—perceptively nailed the song's appeal with his assessment: "There are a lot of songs out there that don't make sense, but make you feel good when you sing along to them, and that's one of them." Couldn't think of a better karaoke endorsement than that.—Bryan Kerwin

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“Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen

“Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen

There’s something about an Americana ode to blue-collar youth that makes for a surefire karaoke classic, and no one knows this better than the Boss. Released in 1975, this song was his first charting single, the one that laid the foundation for decades of battered blue jeans and working-class anthems. And all these years later, a well delivered “Tramps like us / Baby we were born to run” will still slay a crowd. —Gabrielle Bruney

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“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston

“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston

Whitney's 1987 smash remains an invigorating blast of lovelorn pop glory, her powerful, agile voice soaring effortlessly over spritely synths and funk-syncopated guitar. The whole thing makes the achingly lonely search for a dance floor soulmate sound like the best Friday night ever. Of course, nobody's alone at karaoke. Especially if you nail that third-act key change.—Bryan Kerwin

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“Love Shack” by the B-52’s

“Love Shack” by the B-52’s

There is a great tradition in pop of pairing seductive female voices with weird dudes who just talk. It dates back to Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, and Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, running to its acrobatic and strange extreme with the Sugarcubes. I suppose you could throw "Drunk in Love" in that category, too. The B-52s are the ultimate example of this. All those who can't carry a tune in a wheelbarrow, you should thank your drunky stars for the karaoke salvation of Fred Schneider's sprechstimme. You might need a couple ringers on stage to help with the Kate and Cindy parts of this 1989 chorus, but they'll never steal the spotlight from your sassy barking.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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“Fuck You” by CeeLo Green

“Fuck You” by CeeLo Green

You don't have to be reeling from a recent split in order to enjoy the most jubilant, most profane breakup song of all time. CeeLo's breezy neo-Motown rebuke of a money-crazed ex netted him and cowriter Bruno Mars a Grammy and much well-deserved critical praise. Their ditty sails easily over a sea of gleeful horns and doo-wop backing vocals, emphasizing CeeLo's quirky sense of humor and a clear, unabashed love of dropping those f-bombs. Heartbreak never sounded so carefree.—Bryan Kerwin

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“Happy” by Pharrell Williams

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams

There are about 80 unique words in the lyrics to Pharrell's feel-good smash, but it feels like about 10. Let's be honest, when you pick this ditty, you're looking for minimal effort and maximum crowd-pleasing. It's the macarena for your mouth. It's a fart joke as elevator disco. Have you whiffed Pharrell's Comme des Garçons fragrance? It probably smells like pizza and naps. Wrap a heavy coat around your head, jump up there, clap and sing, "Because I'm happy!" about 56 times. Walk off stage a lazy champion.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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