It’s official, I need help with karaoke songs.

If you are friends with me in real life you know that I am scared of doing karaoke.  It doesn’t really matter how I know you – you don’t have to sing – you could be a coworker – you could be someone that I just catch up with once every 2 months.  You probably know that I’m scared of doing karaoke.

Why am I telling everybody this?  Because it was the only goal I had for 2012 and it didn’t happen.

I’m a choir girl for goodness sake.  I don’t sing solo.  I especially don’t sing solo to songs that I haven’t rehearsed yet.  And most of my choir lessons are memories of missed key changes, forgetting lyrics, and not being able to keep the back of my tongue down.  (I thought about taking that line out, and then decided to keep it in.)

What’s a girl to do?  Seek some help.  In college I was in 4 different choirs -I’ve got plenty of choir friends, so maybe they can help.  I emailed a bunch of people and I’m here to share those answers with you today by voice part.

Ideas for Karaoke Songs from Singers

Soprano Karaoke Songs

JOHANNA: a soprano and incredible improv piano player who sometimes sings tenor
She always looks for “Angel Baby” by Rosie & The Originals and “To Know Him Is to Love Him” by The Teddybears, but they don’t show up in the karaoke collections often.  Her duet choice is A Whole New World, and if she was feeling crazy she’d head for Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”, or kicking it old school with “Build Me Up Buttercup” by the Foundations.  However, she says she’d rather sing along with whatever she wants in her kitchen!

JEN: a soprano who sings my favorite renditions of Summertime and Cry Me a River
She takes it back to her 90’s roots when doing karaoke.  She finds that “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls is usually a hit – everyone else knows it/has heard it so generally people are entertained, and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”.  (Her favorite part is the high note in the middle before the epic guitar riff)

TINA: a soprano who can belt and sings everything from madrigals to Evanescence
She has been singing songs recently that require a belting – “Holding Out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler and anything by Adele.  However, some of her favorite soprano songs are “Poor Wandering One” by Pirates of Penzance or “Popular” from Wicked.

KERRY: a soprano who always rocks the descants at the annual Christmas party
Her top two songs are “Hero” by Mariah Carey, and Cowboy Casanova” by Carrie Underwood.

STEPHANIE: a soprano who stood beside me and rocked out on the barbershop stage
Her two favorite songs are Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do”, and (if they have it) “Vegas” by Sara Bareilles.

BETH: a soprano who rocks the Ave Maria and taught me to “fake it ’til you make it”
Her favorites are “Like a Prayer” by Madonna and anything that screams musical theater or Disney.

JAMIE: a mezzo soprano who I’ve seen rock (and sexify) Dream On and This Love
She sticks to Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie”, a safe pick with wow factor.    Her second option, is “Because the Night” by Patti Smith.  However, her pick depends on the venue.

Alto Karoake Songs

MEGHAN: an alto told to sing soprano for the first 2 years of her college career
She likes to sing “Lullaby of Birdland” by Nikki Yankofsky and “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse.

VICTORIA: an alto with killer scat solos and pneumonic devices to remember song lyrics
The only time she’s ever done karaoke she sang “You Make Me Feel So Young” – however she says she’d like to give a try to “Titanium” by David Guetta, “Gunpowder and Lead” by Miranda Lambert and “Stronger”.  She also mentioned that  song like “Don’t Stop Believin’ might overdone, but if you can really nail it – you’d be a standout.

TERI: an alto with a voice for songs like Fever, she also choreographed for show choir
Her choices are the new “Lady Marmalade” and “Waterfalls” by TLC.

ANNA: a low alto with so much passion and pure sex that every song (or rap) gives you chills
Her two favorite karaoke songs are “Put Your Records On” by Corrine Bailey Rae and “Heartache Tonight” by the Eagles.

Tenor, Baritone, and Bass Karaoke Songs

JOE: a reliable tenor who I wish I was half as chill as with such a great voice
His to go to songs of the moment are “Losing My Religion” by REM and “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” by The Smiths.

ERIC: a baritone who happened to be in the right place at the right time for this survey
He looks for “Get What You Give” by New Radicals and “Two Princes” by Spin Doctors.

BJ: a baritone who recently started singing in public and when he sings, you can feel it
His first pick is “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” by Elton John and his second pick is “She’s Got a Way” by Billy Joel.  Of course, there were runner ups – “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers (which he sounds incredible on), “Feelin’ Good” and “Save the Last Dance for Me” by Michael Buble.

STEVE: a bass with great harmonyt lines, and he directs Christmas Carols with a twist
He likes to stick to the duets, his two favorites are “A Whole New World”, from Aladdin and “Summer Lovin'” from Grease.

BILL: a piano player who has saved my butt numerous times and sings a little bass on the side
I sadly haven’t done a lot of karaoke in my day, but I will share my thoughts on it.

I think the best karaoke songs are ones that the singer can sing well AND the audience knows and can sing along with. Sweet Caroline? Yes. Brown Eyed Girl? Yes. Don’t Stop Believing? NO!!! NO NORMAL KARAOKE SINGERS HAVE THAT MUCH RANGE!!! IT’S A TRAP!!!  (Chrystina interjection: note, this does not contradict Victoria’s statement above – they’ve both agreed that Don’t Stop Believing done correctly by a singer with the right range would be great.)

Oh, you also don’t want a song that is more than probably 4.5 minutes long or has long instrumental solos where you have to stand up there awkwardly shuffling to the music or something. So November Rain is a bad idea. Also Paradise City. Hmm, basically if it’s Guns N Roses and not Welcome to the Jungle, you’ve got a problem.

And the song shouldn’t be slow unless you can actually sing well. Get something with a little pep in it. You’re out having a good time at karaoke. Every Rose Has Its Thorn is not what we’re in the mood for.

For years I have said that my karaoke song is Touch Me by The Doors. I don’t know if it’s a top 2 song, because it violates the audience knows and can sing along with clause I just mentioned. However, the song is right in my wheelhouse vocally, so I can sound awesome doing it. Plus it’s a pretty good song, good beat, not slow, no big musical interludes, etc.

My best karaoke memory was singing Just a Gigolo by David Lee Roth with my former roommates at Homecoming one year. Since we played that song to death in the Penn Band, all the bandos we were out with at the bar knew it, could sing along, and we were all pretty drunk, so we just belted it out. When I picked up Connor from day care last week, this song was actually on the radio, so I belted it out for him. He laughed and said it was a “funny” song, which is a compliment. So now more good memories of the song!

So yeah, I guess I’d got with Touch Me and Just a Gigolo, even though I’m pretty sure you will have exactly 1 vote for each of those after you poll people.

– – – – –

So, what have we learned from all of this?

  • My friends are awesome because they answer questions like this on a whim for me.
  • They’re pretty attractive.
  • Some of them don’t really follow directions but I love them anyway.
  • I have a lot of friends from jazz choir who like jazz music.
  • I need to meet more men (specifically ones who sing).
  • A bunch of choir people have never sung and/or don’t really sing karaoke.

I’m going to work on this.  I’ve got to find my karaoke song.  Here’s what I think it’s going to be

Chrystina: a low alto who prefers to sing like a man when  given the opportunity, but has a sexy jazz voice if necessary
Four karaoke songs she’s considering right now are “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Rait, “Disease” by Matchbox 20, “Somebody’s Somebody” by Christina Aguilera… and she wishes she had the nerve to sing “Fever” with as much sass as she wants to.  However, she would rather sing Broadway songs, Disney songs, and church songs.

We’ll see how this goes.

For everybody I missed or anybody who’s done karaoke (singers and non-singers) and would like to help a girl out, please leave comments below.  (You hear that, I’m begging for comments.  Make my Friday.)

PS. If you’re a music person, you might appreciate these corny choir jokes.

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  • You’re funny! I’m Asian, so Karaoke is in my genes 😉 I always sing out loud with all the songs in my car. Is good practice 😉

    • That was always my favorite part about renting a car for work!! Getting to sing as loudly as I want to. Good advice 🙂

  • BECA Hawkette

    “A bunch of choir people have never sung and/or don’t really sing karaoke.”

    There might be a theory in this statement somewhere… something along the lines of karaoke tends to attract drunk people who think they can sing… or maybe being drunk adversely affects their singing… poor singing = hurts the ears of choir people… and then they avoid karaoke.

    • Maybe. I also think it has something to do with the amount of practice and rehearsal to get everything right all the time and the constantly being told what you can do better all the time. Somewhere along the line singing became not quite as fun, and I’m trying to break out of that mold again. I think you just need to find the right venue. Karaoke at a gay bar might just be the way to go – Broadway songs and men who can sing.

  • Tolly Thompson

    As much as I love to sing, solos or otherwise, I’m with you on the “need to practice it to death before I take it public” thing.

    • It’s scary, right?!? Maybe next time in BR we should go out…

  • Shannon

    Sorry I didn’t get the chance to respond in the first place. Given your requirements I would definitely suggest, though I know it may seem a bit cheesy sometimes, anything sung by Karen Carpenter. Also maybe something by Stevie Nicks. I don’t generally like Karaoke singing but I like to sing Annie Lennox when I do. I don’t know if she’s really a good choice though. I’ve heard some people sing Dido songs well too. Group songs by Queen are great and you could probably sing the lead on most of them.

    • No worries on the delayed response – this totally works just as well, and besides, you just got back from half way across the world :). All good suggestions, I’m going to have to have a karaoke singing session alone in my bedroom this weekend to give some of these things a try.

  • jayant70

    Having sung in choirs all my life, I do cringe when i hear bad karaoke but you know what its something i enjoy with friends, good or bad 🙂 My go to songs are as follows (in no particular order):
    * Summer of ’69–Bryan Adams
    * Blaze of Glory–Bon Jovi
    * Take me Home, Country Roads–John Denver; this was my Dad’s go to karaoke song every time 🙂 so in memory of him
    * Lastly, if a duet then the classic, Summer Nights from Grease

    • Grease seems to be a common theme here – and I love that, I never even thought of Grease. All good suggestions 🙂 – thanks!!

  • Chelsea

    Since I’m a slacker and didnt initially respond…

    I have to admit that I am another one of those choir kids who doesn’t generally volunteer to do karaoke. The few times I was forced…I sang: JoDee Messina’s “I’m Alright’, Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”, and Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am”.

    I’m slowly getting less scared of it, but feel the need to practice just to make SURE I know it. Is that totally lame?!

    • No worries lol, all good suggestions 🙂 I might try some of those out this weekend too 🙂 – and see, it’s not lame, because I practice singing karaoke in my bedroom all the time. And still haven’t had the nerve to do it.

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  • I sing karaoke almost every weekend because I lost the fun of it with choir it really does help bring the spark of singing back. I know most karaoke lists say black velvet is a no-no but I sing it almost every weekend lol never gets old and everyone one of the regulars love it and compliment me more if others sing it an murder it sorry that sounds rude.. I also love anything by rent “out tonight” duet with a friend = “take me or leave me” “ill cover you”. crowd pleasers. again only if you can hit the notes well-ish at least. I love Christina Aguilera they normally frown upon slow songs but” I turn to you” is pretty good and they love when I hit the high note 🙂 also love anything by Adelle and Evenesence. especially “bring me to life” 🙂 but remember anything works really there all drunk most of the time anyways and since your trained you wont make a big fool of yourself too much 🙂 hope that helps. and just remember people go to karaoke to unwind and have fun. just let loose and feel it. oh and always jazz/sex/spice it up as much as you want too. lol most wont remember it in the morning anyways 😉 have fun girl. and thanks for some great ideas.. I was stuck.
    -Brittney Abbott

    • This comment makes me exceptionally happy – lots of good advice in here. Black velvet – I was unaware this was frowned upon – done right I think it could be wonderful – and it sounds like you have it under control. I need to work up a little courage for Out Tonight… but I’d absolutely love to jazz/sex/spice that up. I was also considering Somebody’s Somebody by Christina – but you’re right, slow usually does seem to be frowned upon. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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  • Melissa

    Hi, I was in chorus for a Number of years……though never did well as I never sang ‘correctly/confidently’ it was only after I dated a KJ ( karaoke dj) that I found the confidence to make mistakes and have fun while trying new things… also helps to get friends drunk to make yourself feel better before trying new things out…..anyways here are some of my songs that I try
    Ariel’s a whole new world.will you still love me tomorrow by Carole king. I will survive by Gloria gaynor. Eternal flame by……shoot I can’t remember but you can look it up easy peasy…love song by Sara baresellies( wow I spell horribly!) and I delve deeper into my love for oldies ( but goodies) hope this helps even a bit…..and remember a shot might give you the confidence to sing but it’ll also slur your ability to do so well if you do too many…….and most importantly HAVE FUN!

    • Such good advice. And who knew KJ was a thing. Love that. I might have to find me one of those – then I could practice for a little bit beforehand. Thanks for the tips!!

  • sarah

    I love karaoke:) I am typically an Alto, but there aren’t as many fun upbeat songs in my range.. so I’ll sing Reo speedwagon, CCR proud mary, a little Shania Twain, and once on a dare did “Elvira” by the Oakridge boys with a bass friend of mine.. my sister was a karaoke dj for a while so I’ve been too many times to count:) I definitely agree with everything so far… The key is to go up, grab the mic and sing it like you wrote it, don’t go up and sing something with an awesome chorus… that you don’t know all the verses to or something that will bring the whole club down…:) thanks for the blog:)

  • Christine

    I don’t know you, but I was looking for some suggestiongs for good karaoke songs to sing. I didn’t even think to add ‘for altos’ to the search, but here I am. I’ve been doing karaoke for almost a year (I was in many choirs previously and took vioce lessons). Every time, I get a little nervous, but then I remember how much I love singing.
    Some suggestions (if you’re still looking): Anything Adele, Summertime (Ella F), Melody Gardot (Who will comfort me – if you can scat a little), Pat Benetar (Love is a Battlefield – but there is a huge musical interlude), Call Me by Blondie, maybe something by Heart, Evanescence (Bring me to life, Imaginary or Whisper).
    It;s tough to find something upbeat, but that is usually the way to go – especially later in the night. And if your friends will get up and dance, even better.
    I hope you have taken the plunge or do it soon. It’s so much fun!

    • Thank you, thank you for the recommendations!! Believe it or not, I still haven’t conquered this fear. Maybe one of these songs will be the answer 🙂

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  • Jaime

    I’m making a mixed CD of awesome songs to sing along to for a friend in my church choir having her first Christmas post separation. Anyway, came along this and wanted to share my top secret: my karaoke big time show stopper fun to sing song is: Gloria by Laura Branagan. There. The search is over.

    • Ooh, this sounds like it’s in exactly the right range. I’ll listen to this on repeat tomorrow and see how it goes 🙂

      • Bex

        I’m an alto, typical foghorn lol, and the songs that always bring the house down for me are hallelujah Alexandra Burke, fever Michael buble and all that jazz from Chicago. Also trying Kt tunstall black horse and a cherry tree and leona Lewis run tonight but like you the trained singer in me HAS to have practiced them perfect before I get up there lol. Being a belter I’ve also done black velvet, plus celine dion, Whitney Houston and Diana Ross numbers but you’ve got to be sure you’ve got the range for the key changes otherwise you’re stuffed!

        • I tried You Can’t Hurry Love a few times, and that one didn’t go too badly. I’ll have to look into the others. I would need to figure out how to navigate the random musical interlude in All That Jazz, but it’s a good fit. And Michael Buble’s Fever is always wonderful, I’m going to have to give that one a try (clearly in the privacy of my own bedroom first). Thanks for all the suggestions!

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  • Jeff White

    My wife and I worked up and recorded “Baby It’s Cold Outside” at Christmas and had a blast doing it. We did the Michael Buble/Idina Menzel family-friendly version so we could share it with all our church friends without too much embarrassment. I’m a baritone and my wife is a soprano, so it was the perfect range for both of us. I came across your site via Google looking for more duets to do, so thought I’d share!

    • Hi Jeff! Thanks for sharing! Ooh, a list of karaoke duets would actually be pretty awesome, I might have to make one of those. I’m going to have to track down the Michael Buble / Idina Menzel version of Baby It’s Cold Outside. It sounds wonderful!

      • Jeff White

        Here’s our version on YouTube:

        • This is really really awesome – you guys sound great. (I feel like I haven’t been in a place to listen to a video with sound in over a week I realized, sorry about the delay.) Thanks so much for sharing! I’m going to have to do a little research on great duets for karaoke… and then find myself a baritone. (There have got to be alto/baritone duets, right? I guess I’ll find out.)

  • fav karaoke songs!!!!!!

    Valerie – Amy Winehouse
    How’s It Going To Be – Third Eye Blind
    Benny and the Jets – Elton John
    Torn – Natalie Imbruglia
    TikTok – Ke$sha
    Lucky – Britney Spears
    Love Story – Sara Bareilles
    Your So Vain – Carly SImon
    Don’t Rain on My Parade – Barbra Streisand (or Lea Michele from Glee)
    Landslide – Dixie Chicks version
    Call Your Girlfriend – Robyn
    You & I – Lady Gaga
    Holding Out For A Hero – Bonnie Tyler
    Bang Bang – Nancy Sinatra

    that might be it for now! ALSO! i just discovered an app you’re going to love: it’s called Karafun and it has a full catalog of songs. you pay like 7.99 to get the full songs/offline for a week (perf for PHLbloggers events!) or you can pay like $10 for a month. SO GOOD!

    • Thanks so much for sharing! I’m always looking for new songs. I’m going to have to try some of these this weekend. (The amount of me karaoke-ing in front of my computer that happens is actually incredible.)