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Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

The best karaoke songs ever

Dial up one of the best karaoke songs next time you feel like grabbing a mic and soaking up the spotlight.

By Sophie Harris and Time Out editors
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If you’re brave enough to step up to the mic, you’re already doing great, but with so many good karaoke songs to pick from, making the right choice on what to sing could make or break the night.

Fear not: we’re here to help. You don’t need a great voice to knock it out of the park (though it helps), so try selecting something funny (“Love Shack”), romantic (“Let’s Stay Together”), heart-warming (“Stand by Me”), epic, joyous or sentimental to sing—either by yourself or with a duet partner.

Below, you’ll find plenty to pick from. We’ve assembled a list of the best karaoke songs ever, from raucous party songs you can sing while tipsy to tender love songs for serenading your boo. So grab the mic, knock back a drink and prepare to belt out one of these surefire hits.

Listen to these songs on Amazon Music

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Best karaoke songs ever, ranked

Prince Purple Rain album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/Amazon

1. “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

Best pop songs: The Ronettes Be My Baby

2. “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes

Nearly every list of the best songs ever recorded has “Be My Baby” somewhere near the top, and deservedly so. Ronnie Spector was rock & roll’s first bad girl, so pay your respects by putting this gem in the karaoke queue. Phil Spector’s studio magic made the song a pop touchstone, but Ronnie’s spunky charm makes it a karaoke classic.

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Backstreet Boys album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/Jive Records

3. “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

Bruce Springsteen
Photograph: Shutterstock

4. “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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Whitney Houston album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/Arista

5. “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

B-52s album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/Reprise

6. “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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Kelly Clarkson
Photograph: Shutterstock

7. “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson

The simple chord progression and the restrained vocals in the beginning of Clarkson’s 2004 hit make for one of the greatest buildups to a powerhouse chorus is pop music. Sing this in front of a room full of strangers and the whole lot will be scream-belting, “But since you’ve been gone, I can breathe for the first time!” Don’t worry though—you’ll likely get your chance to shine solo again come the verses. —Tolly Wright

Ben E. King album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/Atco Records / Atlantic Records

8. “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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Best pop songs: Lorde Royals

9. “Royals” by Lorde

Lorde's unexpected breakthrough was game changer for pop music, though it remains a kind of karaoke dare. Take away the voice and what's left? Some finger snaps and stark synthetic drums. There are no great string swells to hide behind, no opportunities for air guitar antics, no climactic key changes. It's like Run-D.M.C. for sopranos. And yet, because of the subject matter, your skill matters not. We are not pop stars. But here, in the bar, "Let me live that fantasy."

Eurythmics album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/Dell9300/Eurythmics

10. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Eurythmics

Who are we to disagree with the power of one of Annie Lennox’s most prominent new wave anthems, written with musical partner Dave Stewart in the wake of the demise of their former band, The Tourists. There’s a decent chance that you already know the repetitive lyrics to this ’80s bop built around a pair of intersecting synthesizer riffs, so hold your head up and sing it loud.—Zach Long

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Fugees album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/Ruff House

11. “Killing Me Softly With His Song” by The Fugees

A hip-hop-inflected cover of Roberta Flack’s interpretation of a ballad by ’70s singer-songwriter Lori Lieberman (inspired her experience at concert headlined by “American Pie” troubadour Don McLean), this hit by the Fugees works best if you’ve got a whole lot of confidence or a killer set of pipes. Backed only by a sparse drum beat, you’ll be able to put your own spin on Lauryn Hill’s silky vocal melodies— and don’t be afraid to designate a hype man to take care of the “one time, two time” asides or to help belt out the chorus.—Zach Long

Gloria Gaynor album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/Polydor Records

12. “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor

Sometimes you need to get in front of a group of strangers and make it clear that, no matter what challenges or misfortune the world throws in your path, you’re going to persevere. In those situations, you can’t go wrong with disco diva Gloria Gaynor’s iconic breakup anthem, which brought empowerment to the dance floor when the track debuted in 1978. Settle for ’90s alt-rockers Cake’s cover of this tune if you must, but Gaynor’s original version is infinitely more groovy.—Zach Long

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Queen album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/Queen Productions, Ltd

13. “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.—Adam Feldman

Pitchfork Music Festival 2016, Friday
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

14. “Call Me Maybe” by Carley Rae Jepsen

The concept of giving your number to someone and having them actually call you was already extremely quaint when Canadian singer-songwriter Carley Rae Jepsen released this infectious single in 2011, but that didn’t stop her rise to pop stardom. Assuming you can request this tune early enough in the evening (it’s a pretty popular karaoke choice), you can remind folks that this song has a couple verses before they start screaming along to the refrain.—Zach Long

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Young Hearts Run Free event at the Enmore Theatre.
Photograph: Save Our Stages NSW/Phillip Booth

15. “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.

The Righteous Brothers, best break-up songs

16. “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."

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“Faith” by George Michael

17. “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.

Amy Winehouse album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/SnapSnap/Jack3mani.filed.wordpress.com

18. “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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Weezer
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/From the Garage

19. “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.

Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus
Photograph: Shutterstock

20. “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X

A viral TikTok hit that turned into an inescapable pop juggernaut, there aren’t many people who haven’t heard Lil Nas X’s infectious amalgamation of country tropes and hip-hop swagger. That makes “Old Town Road” an ideal karaoke tune for capturing the attention of the crowd, especially if you take the stage in a cowboy hat and Wranglers. Plus, there are so many different remixes of this track—featuring folks like Billy Ray Cyrus, Young Thug and members of South Korean boy band BTS—that you could probably sing multiple versions in a single night.—Zach Long

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Vanilla Ice on Ice CANCELLED
Streamy Awards/Flickr

21. “Ice, Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice

Every human should be able to recite at least one couplet from this 1990 global smash do so without shame. Yes, the song is so stupid in so many ways, but it's also a stone-cold specimen of pristine pop. There's that perfect bassline, swiped from "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie, Ice's ludicrous braggadocio ("Quick to the point to the point no fakin' / Cookin' MCs like a pound of bacon") and, of course, that dance routine with those pants. Word to your mother.

Beastie Boys album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/Def Jam/Columbia/David Gamboli

22. “(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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Areatha Franklin album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/Atlantic Records / Columbia Records / Screen Gems

23. “(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

Edward Sharpe and the magnetic zeros YouTube reprise cover

24. “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

There are few things quite so rare and precious in life as those places and people that feel like home way down in your bones, and this cute, stompy duet from 2010 hits the nail squarely and sweetly on the head with its heartfelt chorus: "Home is wherever I'm with you." Bonus: There's ample opportunity for group whistling here.

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A Tribute to Elvis Presley
Wikipedia

25. “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley

There’s a reason Elvis’ version is remembered over Mark James’ 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.

Wham!
© DR

26. “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.

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Kenny Rogers
© Piper Ferguson

27. “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.

Smokey Robinson album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/FuriousFreddy

28. “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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“Walkin’ After Midnight” by Patsy Cline

29. “Crazy” by Patsy Cline

When everyone else is screaming out pop hits like cans of spray cheese gone amok, class up the joint with Patsy Cline’s mournful country classic, written for her by Willie Nelson in 1961. The simple melody doesn’t require vocal pyrotechnics, so this is good choice for less showy singers. And the slow, steady tempo gives you plenty of room to croon, back-phrase and otherwise make the song yours.

Sir Mix Alot album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/MindsEyeTHPS/American Recordings/Universal Music Group

30. “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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Beyonce album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/Adabow/Columbia Records

31. “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

a segunda edición del festival Domination presenta como headliners a Misfits y Def Lepprad el 1 y 2 de mayo en el Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.
Foto: Cortesía Def Lepparad

32. “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.

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Destiny's Child album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/MatthewWaller

33. “Say My Name” Destiny’s Child

For an R&B song boasting amazing female vocalists (including, you know, Beyoncé), “Say My Name” doesn’t require all that big a singing range. What it does need, however, is some pretty fast talking. To impress the rest of the bar, make sure you got the lyrics on lock—or maybe the support of your personal Kelly Rowland, Letoya Luckett and LaTavia Robertson.—Tolly Wright

Erasure regresa a la CDMX
Foto: Cortesía Erasure

34. “Respect” by Erasure

Few songs allow you to unleash your inner man diva more fully than this thumping 1988 dance-pop gem. You can cruise along in a comfortable midrange during the verse, but watch out for that sharp turn into falsetto land at the end of the chorus. And while the track might be a gay anthem, anyone can relate to its timeless "You can't tell me who to love" message. Tackle this tune, and karaoke respect will be yours.

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'Welcome to the jungle', Guns N' Roses
FOTO: Geffen

35. “Sweet Child o’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses

There are three voices of Axl Rose: the Banshee ("Sha-na-na-na-knees! Knees!"), the Busker ("Don't you cry tonight") and the Brit ("I used to lov'er, ooh yeah, but I 'ad to kill'a"). Well, there is now also the Blob, but we do not acknowledge post-Slash Axl. In the best G'N'R songs, the doo-rag diva of Indiana phases through all three of these characters, like in "Patience." But "Sweet Child o' Mine," the band's only U.S. No. 1, is a 10-point routine for Axl imitators. It starts with your nuts in a bunch, full-on Banshee, before letting you really chew into the Brit and the Busker on the "Where do we go now?" bridge, which of course climaxes into glass-shattering falsetto shriek. Place that order for lemon and honey tea beforehand.

Toto album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/PhilipTerryGraham/Columbia Records

36. “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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Best pop songs: Blondie Heart of Glass

37. “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!

Música, Pop, Katy Perry
©DR

38. “Roar” by Katy Perry

"Roar" is proof that formulaic pop can truly be a beautiful thing. With its catchy, jing-jangle verses, kicker of a chorus and ever-appealing girl-power vibe, it provided Perry with her best song since “Teenage Dream,” and it’ll provide you with a surefire karaoke-night hit.

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brandy

39. “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.

Darlinghurst Theatre Company presents Bloom Festival: Resurrection Ball
Robert Catto, Photographer

40. “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips

Did you know that in 1990, "Hold On" bumped Madonna's "Vogue" off the top spot of the Billboard charts? Did you know that Wilson Phillips' debut album sold more than 10 million copies? Did you know that "Hold On" is actually a perfect, if weirdly nauseating, karaoke song? Of course you did! And very likely you loved every minute of the trio's cameo in the 2011 movie Bridesmaids, too. Time to re-create the magic.

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Snoop Dogg dará una batalla de rap con DMX
Photograph: Josh Telles

41. “Drop It Like It’s Hot” by Snoop Dogg

Can you twerk? Are you willing to try? If you answered no, please pass the mike to someone bolder or more inebriated. Covering Snoop's ode to glutes is as much an embarrassing dance routine as a karaoke number: "Get low." Scrub the ground." Pharrell's beat, which sounds like bacon fat on a skillet and pulling lollipops out of a mouth, is equally lascivious. Best not to try this one out at the wedding party in front of the grand-in-laws. But among your friends? You're going home lucky. Or with wet pants.

Pharrell Williams - Happy
Pharrell Williams

42. “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.

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Miley Cyrus brings her Bangerz tour to Allstate Arena with openers Icona Pop, March 7, 2014.
Photographer: cousindaniel.com

43. “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus

Poke fun at her dorky Hannah Montana days or the infamous bedazzled weed leotard all you like—there’s no denying that Miley Cyrus has given the world some bonafide karaoke classics (or Bangerz, if you will). Before you break into one of her most memorable tracks, you’ll probably want to wait until everyone at the bar is at least a couple drinks in, just to ensure that everyone is movin’ their hips and shakin’ their heads (like, yeah) when you all start belting out the chorus.—Zach Long

Outkast album cover
Photograph: Courtesy Discogs.com

44. “Hey Ya” by Outkast

If singing isn’t your strongest suit—but you’re fantastic at jumping around and getting everybody pumped—then fire up this early aughts favorite. Better plan ahead though if you want to match the tune in your best André “Ice Cold” 3000 green get-up.—Tolly Wright

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Radiohead
Photograph: Rozette Rago Radiohead

45. “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.

Tears For Fears album cover
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikipedia/Nem18/Mercury Records

46. “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears For Fears

First time stepping up to the microphone? If you can’t think of a song that you’re comfortable singing, this new wave classic is simple enough that almost anyone can pull it off. The slow-moving tune about the corrupting allure of power sports a recurring vocal melody that doesn’t require an professionally-trained voice—or a mullet and a single dangling earring.—Zach Long

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The Rolling Stones
Fotografia: Øderud

47. “(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.

Blink-182 album cover
Photograph: Courtesy Universal Music Group

48. “What’s My Age Again” by Blink 182

The late ’90s saw the birth of a new anti-hero, the sophomoric mid-twenties jokester who found himself sandwiched in between the demands of adulthood and the comforts of being of a teenager, in the form of The Tom Green Show, skateboarding and prank calls. Sure, now it’s called Peter Pan Syndrome and is largely frowned upon, but for a while this way of being had not only a celebratory moment, but an even more celebratory anthem. The lyrics demand a carefree, no-hold-barred attitude, and Tom’s instantly recognizable guitar riff is sure to make the bar scream like it’s everyone's 6th grade dance all over again. So throw off your adult responsibilities, sag your cargo pants and belt out this promise that even if you get older, you don’t have to grow up until you’re good and ready.—Taya Kenny

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Adele
Photograph: Richard Isaac/REX/Shutterstock

49. “Someone Like You” by Adele

Still pining for your ex when friends drag you to karaoke night? There’s only one song for you. Save it for when you’re four drinks in and ready to make the crowd deeply uncomfortable. Don’t worry if you don’t have Adele’s vocal chops—the tears streaming down your face will distract everyone from the high notes you’re mangling.

Weezer
Photograph: Courtesy Grandstand

50. “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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Purple Rain, Prince
Photograph: Courtesy Warner Bros

The absolute best ’80s songs

Music

There’s hair metal, sure, and more than a smidge of synth-pop, but there are also some killer rockers, diva jams, new-wave classics, hip-hop standouts, lovelorn ballads and even a bit of indie rock.

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