50 Best Karaoke Songs For When You Want To Kill It On The Mic

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best karaoke songs

Drink, slay, repeat.

Very few phrases in the English language incite as much fear as they do excitement, as much feverish anticipation as they do dread. If you’ve ever heard your BFF tipsily proclaim, “We’re going to karaoke!” from the other end of the bar, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Sure, karaoke is fun and goofy and a great way banish the workweek blues, but it comes with some drawbacks. Like, what are the best karaoke songs? What if you have no idea where to start in that thousand-page book of All The Songs Ever that greets you on arrival? What if you simply are not drunk enough to take on the task of selecting one?

No, you don’t have to be five tequila-sodas deep into your night to enjoy shout-singing “Don’t Speak” in front of a group of strangers, but, then again... don’t you?

RELATED: Singing In The Car Will Make You Happier And Healthier, Says Science

We all say we love karaoke until some random dude hands us a mic. That’s when it’s real. That’s when you feel a twinge of regret for having willfully agreed to what may be your own public humiliation. Karaoke outings can be thoughtfully arranged or the last stop on the Sh*tshow Express, but the unifying dictum of every one of them is that you must suffer through the nerves to enjoy the payoff.

But anxiety be damned, you can still crush it when you step up to the mic! All you need to reveal your inner Beyoncé is a plan.

Here are 50 of the best karaoke songs, guaranteed to play up your strengths and banish any pre-performance jitters. Pick the one that suits your style in advance and get ready to slay. Just don’t forget to drop the mic when you’re done.

If you love the 90s...

1. Sheryl Crow, "If It Makes You Happy"

Give 'em a dose of raw emotion... and don't hold back! Your efforts will be appreciated.

2. The Cardigans, "Lovefool"

Double down on the youthful nostalgia with some Romeo + Juliet vibes and a bubbly tune that everyone loves, whether they admit it or not.

3. The Goo Goo Dolls, "Slide"

Who doesn't wanna wake up where you are?

4. Meredith Brooks, "B*tch"

Meredith Brooks is the karaoke crush no one knew they needed and everyone will be thanking you for.

5. Usher, "You Make Me Wanna"

Maybe crawl into someone's lap for this. You know, for effect. They'll understand.

If you're a serious chanteuse...

6. Amy Winehouse, "You Know I'm No Good."

Perfect for the jazzy improviser who's not afraid to go there.

7. Aretha Franklin, "Respect"

You'd better be ready to bring the house down with this one. Snag two friends — errr, backup vocalists — to really sell it.

8. Whitney Houston, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody"

You should be in the mood to shake it because that's going to be expected.

9. Rihanna, "Love On The Brain"

Sultry and a serious showstopper — just like you.

10. Adele, "Rolling In The Deep"

As powerful as that Celine song that you really wanted to sing but a whole hell of a lot better for the rest of us.


If you thrive on audience participation...

11. Oasis, "Wonderwall"

The entire bar will shout-sing the chorus as you take us back to a happier time when Liam and Noel were chill enough to be in the same room together... sort of.

12. The Human League, "Don't You Want Me?"

Those not singing yet will begin singing, those who were singing will begin chanting, the chanters will start shouting, and so on until you drop out, completely satisfied with your ability to work a crowd.

13. The Proclaimers, "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)"

You'll certainly get participation on this one, but not everyone will be cheering. Luckily, those who love it will be screaming so loudly the others will have no choice but to plug their ears and take it.

14. ​Madonna, "Like A Virgin"

Fun, light, cheeky, and extremely sing-a-long-able.

15. Outkast, "So Fresh, So Clean"

No one will be able to resist the urge to echo, "So clean, clean!" back at you.

If you don't do pop music...

16. Otis Redding, "Hard To Handle"

Kick back and let Otis do the heavy lifting.

17. Cat Stevens, "Wild World"

Go on, you old soul.

18. Live, "Lightning Crashes"

The chorus is melodic genius and you can rest easy that all your friends will agree.

19. George Strait, "All My Exes Live In Texas"

Because the idea of banishing everyone who ever broke your heart to a single state is very satisfying.

20. The Kinks, "Lola"

Chances are, this is the tune everyone gets stuck in their head when you're all stumbling home. And that's a very good thing.

If you're an ex-theater major...

21. Beyoncé, "Hold Up"

Because you still haven't decided whether being jealous is worse than being crazy, you will take the entire bar on a terrifying journey through both states of existence.

22. Bonnie Tyler, "Total Eclipse Of The Heart"

Do people know what it looks like to be truly lovesick? Do they understand how deeply complex Bonnie Tyler's predicament was when she was writing this song? They're about to find out.

23. Sophie B. Hawkins, "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover"

Longing in its purest form.

24. Radiohead, "Creep"

A great choice when you want to emotionally decimate the crowd but also indicate you've been feeling a little ignored in the group text thread lately.

25. David Bowie, "Life On Mars"

This song has everything: highs, lows, the best opportunity for a high-key Bowie impersonation you've had in months. Leave no emotional depth unplumbed.

RELATED: 10 Best Songs & Lyrics By 'The Cranberries' In Remembrance Of Lead Singer Dolores O'Riordan

If you're a karaoke purist...

26. Journey, "Don't Stop Believing"

Need I say more?

27. Prince, "Purple Rain"

Perfect for late in the evening when the mood is shifting and your makeup is starting to run.

28. Neil Diamond, "Sweet Caroline"

You've already killed it by the time the intro's over.

29. Frank Sinatra, "My Way"

You, the stubborn one of the bunch, singing this song? They'll love it.

30. Hall & Oates, "Rich Girl"

Hidden among all the other karaoke songs is this, the crown jewel of the evening. Hall & Oates forever, baby.

If you can't carry a tune in a bucket...

31. Chumbawumba, "Tubthumping"

You have a built-in choir of inebriated fools to shout this with you! Go for it! Don't look back!

32. The B-52s, "Love Shack"

No one will mind if you make this performance less of a song and more of a Fred Schneider impression.

33. Joan Jett, "I Love Rock 'n' Roll"

Clapping — clapping is good! Make sure they keep clapping!

34. Thin Lizzy, "The Boys Are Back In Town"

All you have to do is keep up with the rhythm and the notes will sing themselves.

35. Gary Glitter, "Rock'n Roll Part 2"

Just shout "Hey!" when it's your time and this'll all be over soon.

If you're ready to duet...

36. Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, "Empire State Of Mind"

This song is fun and might just get the crowd on their feet, depending on your group's opinion of the Yankees.

37. Meagan Trainor feat. John Legend, "Like I'm Gonna Lose You"

A beautiful melody with the potential to make the crowd weep with your combined loveliness.

38. Brandy and Monica, "The Boy Is Mine"

A total favorite of likely everyone you know with tons of room for playful, just-kidding-we-really-get-along sass.

39. Lady Antebellum, "Need You Now"

If you love harmonizing, this song is your chance to show off.

40. Sonny & Cher, "I Got You Babe"

Bonus points if you bring an alarm clock to bash, a la Groundhog Day.

If you're seriously wasted... 

41. Tone Loc, "Wild Thing"

Serve attitude on the lyrics you know ("Wild thing") and mumble the ones you don't (all the rest).

42. Salt N' Peppa, "Push It"

Because when Drunk You wants a challenge, Drunk You gets a challenge.

43. Smash Mouth, "Walking On The Sun"

Imagine how good it will feel to grunt, "...MmmmMMMIGHTazwellbewalginonthasa" as your friends stare blankly and pretend they don't know you.

44. Kate Bush, "Wuthering Heights"

Keep the audience on their toes with a melody that'll keep you on yours.

45. Van Halen, "Jump"

A single syllable punctuated by a fist pump could not be a more perfect option for you after numerous failed attempts at forming actual sentences.

If you want something unique...

46. Blu Cantrell, "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)"

Everyone will instantly remember how much they loved this song and worship you for the rest of the night. Period.

47. The Lonely Island feat. Michael Bolton, "Jack Sparrow"

You are not trying to make this a singing competition. They wanted a night they wouldn't forget, right?

48. R. Kelly, "Ignition (Remix)"

It'll play. Trust me, it'll play.

49. Jackson 5, "ABC"

If you don't bounce to this beat, check your pulse.

50. Meat Loaf, "Paradise By The Dashboard Light"

Those who get it, get it. Those who don't can go find another karaoke bar.

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Alexandra Antonopoulos is a writer living in New York City. She has bylines on Bustle, Elite Daily, recently wrapped her first short film, and will always ask for a salt rim. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram @ajoyantonop.