Singing is great fun, and although it’s never gone out of fashion, it’s undoubtedly undergone a resurgence in popularity. It’s is in no small part due to the explosion of singing contests over the last decade or so. Programs such as American Idol and The Voice have been at the forefront of this trend.
Happily, a renewed focus on vocal talent has led to people being even less inhibited in letting rip to some of their favorite tunes. Whether at a wedding, in the car, or at a bar, the best sing-along songs have never been more popular.
May it long continue. It’s a great trend, and I love it!
What constitutes a great sing-along song?
This is tough to answer. But essentially, it has to be well known, with easy-to-remember lyrics and an easy-to-remember melody.
Additionally, it’s best if it has a reasonably narrow vocal range that most inexperienced singers have a chance of doing some kind of justice to. Plus, a feel-good pulsing beat, though not always, works best to help get people in a singing mood.
My top ten list is predominantly aimed at adults and focuses more on older rather than contemporary songs. However, there are a couple of recent songs included to keep the younger generation happy. Now let’s take a look at my top ten favorite sing-along songs.
I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
This is one of two joint songs for the top of the list. It justifies its position since it’s the most requested karaoke song by women. First released in 1978, incredibly, this enduring song is more popular now than it’s ever been.
This classic disco era song has a thumping, bumping beat running through the entire song. It’s a break-up song with a mix of heartbreak, empowerment, and optimism for the future all rolled into one. It catches the mood of love, pain, and, of course, survival perfectly.
My Way – Frank Sinatra
“I Will Survive” is undoubtedly one for the ladies. However, “My Way” is without question one for the guys. This being the most requested karaoke song for men, it deservedly sits as my second joint top pick for a sing-along song.
So, what makes it so special?
The melody is a little dower and even borders on being outright depressing. However, the lyrics are where the magic happens. These effortlessly slide between a celebration of life and clever put-downs. Plus, the two-fingered defiant message is all delivered in a brilliant, contrastingly smooth style.
Is this all too laid-back for your style and mood? Well, for an altogether more confrontational, in your face delivery, you could always sing the infamous Sid Vicious version.
This is another classic that usually gets the nod towards the end of the night after one too many drinks.
Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
Can three billion people on YouTube really be wrong? Quite honestly, they probably can be. But in this case, I think they’ve got it spot-on. This is a great song with tons of energy and a powerful message that would even get Gloria Gaynor nodding in approval.
In essence, the song is about people who criticize or make fun of others. It’s not entirely clear who Taylor is aiming this song towards. However, its wide appeal is down to the fact that most of us, regardless of our ages or backgrounds, have endured unwanted and hurtful comments at some point.
In an age where social media gives a platform to trolls and haters, this resonates strongly.
But there’s more…
Not only is this a great song, but Taylor also brings it to life in her video. It’s a reminder to myself to go and “Shake It Off” when that next nasty comment lands in my comments section.
And yes, I’ll do the dance too!
Dancing Queen – Abba
Turning the clock back a couple of generations but keeping the dancing theme going, let’s get moving with Abba. This might be an old song, but I can guarantee you that even the grumpiest of teenagers will know this song.
But even better?
They’ll be happy to sing along and will even smile in the process. OK, I made that last bit up; we know teenagers don’t smile. But you get the picture, right?
Released in 1976, it has a pure disco beat. It’s up-tempo with a happy feel. However, when we’re blasting out the lyrics at the tops of our voices, it’s probably not in the full understanding of its more melancholy message. Like a lot of Abba’s songs, it hides sadness in some amazingly beautiful melodies blended with incredible harmonized vocals.
Not only is this a brilliant sing-along song, but it’s one of the best disco tunes of all time.
We Are the Champions – Queen
From disco to rock, “We Are the Champions” is one of the most recognizable rock anthems ever. It was written by the late, great Freddy Mercury and released in 1977 as part of Queen’s ‘News of The World’ album.
This is one of the most played songs in sports stadiums around the world. A celebration of your team it’s bound to bond the fans in the pursuit of their team’s dreams and achievements. It’s also frequently the worst sung song on our list… by just about everyone!
What’s the truth?
None of us, regardless of the song, get remotely close to performing to the same standards as the incredible Freddie Mercury. But “We Are the Champions” also happens to be one of the hardest rock songs to sing of all time. The vocal range required to sing is mind-blowing.
This all kind of flies in the face of my contention that the best sing-along songs should require a narrow vocal range. However, there are exceptions to everything, and this is one of them. Almost always sung in a lower key, and savaged at just about every turn, it doesn’t diminish from people’s love of the song or of singing it.
It’s a true testament to Freddie Mercury’s genius as a songwriter.
Don’t Stop Believing – Journey
A lot of younger readers can be excused for thinking that this classic song from Journey was specifically written for the hit TV series Glee. It features in the pilot episode and no less than another five times during all of the series. Although not the official theme song, it fits so well that it’s become the unofficial de-facto choice in the minds of many fans.
Like Taylor Swift’s song, “Shake It Out,” this is another great song to dance along to. The dance beat is blended beautifully with piano riffs and one of the most memorable and classic guitar solos of all time.
Unusually, the chorus doesn’t feature until near the end of the song. However, it’s so catchy that you can never forget it or fail to sing along. This is another story of persistence and self-belief. It’s a story of success in the face of adversity. I’m never going to stop believing in between shaking it off!
Hey Jude – The Beatles
Let’s slow it down a little.
Well, I hope so. Because in my book, it’s one of the greatest songs ever written. This is on the Billboard Top Ten best singles of all time, and I’m sure it’s featured in a lot of yours too.
It is a rather sad song in both the melody and lyrics. However, there’s very much a juxtaposition at play with both hopeful lyrics and a hopeful message for the future. What’s more, what about that unforgettable chorus?
Naaaaa naaaa naa na na naaaa na na na naaaaa na naaaaa!
That’s not a chorus that you can forget in a hurry. Additionally, it’s a song that easy to sing since it has little pitch variation. A good combination for any sing-along song.
Liable to provoke a tear, this record-breaking song, on so many fronts, is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser.
Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond
Sweet Caroline is a tricky song to categorize.
It’s essentially a love song with plenty of energy and a high-tempo beat. It was thought for a long time that the song, which was written by Neil Diamond, was an ode to the late JF Kennedy’s daughter. However, this is not the case; the song is a loving tribute to his wife, Marsha.
It’s filled with happy lyrics that have nevertheless being adapted by many drunken singers over the years to better fit their circumstances. What’s never adapted or changed is the “duh duh duh,” which comes after the first lines of the chorus, which is, of course, “Sweet Caroline.”
It’s easy to sing…
And can be blasted out at full volume since it has a narrow vocal range. In the last few years, it’s had a resurgence in popularity as it’s become popular with the Red Sox baseball team, who now play it at all their games. This has spread, and it’s now a regular mainstay at baseball grounds throughout America.
Sweet Caroline will be coming to you at full volume very soon!
Purple Rain – Prince
The song was written by Prince as the centerpiece to the Rock musical drama of the same name. In many ways, this was the song that catapulted him to stardom that was so richly deserved.
It a slow song that’s backed with lyrical complexity. The song’s message is basically about sharing your life in all its glories and disappointments with someone you love. It’s about putting your faith and belief in a higher being. There are plenty of possible interpretations of many parts of this song that make it special to every listener.
Most of us mere mortals cannot get close to singing in the same key as Prince.
The cool thing?
Thankfully, Purple Rain works well if it’s sung in a nice easy middle key. This makes it more than possible for people of even relatively limited vocal ranges to give a fair go. As karaoke bars and organizers around the globe are only too aware of!
Even if you can’t remember any of the verses, you can always happily chime in with the three times repetition of “Purple Rain.” Most of us, myself included, can also remember the next two lines. Just to remind you: ‘I only wanted to see you… Bathing in the purple rain’.
Suspicious Minds – Elvis Presley
You can’t beat a good sing-along. But even better? A sing-along with an Elvis standard included.
I could have swapped out Suspicious Minds with any of a dozen of the King’s classic songs for one of the best sing-along songs. But this was so instrumental in energizing and propelling his career to stratospheric heights I just couldn’t leave it out.
It was written by Mark James in 1968 and was covered by Elvis a year later. It became one of his most successful songs. Plus, it’s one of the most requested karaoke songs of all time, with good reason.
This is a song with lyrics that we can all relate to…
It’s a song that captures the feeling of being in a place or relationship we’d rather not be in. It’s also a song that is best to belt out at full volume. Singing Suspicious Minds can be like a cathartic release of negative energy.
I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a great song to end the list.
Love to Sing-Along or Listen to Great Music?
Well, if you’re a fan of sing-a-longs, you might want a nice microphone to add to the fun or even a home karaoke machine. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Karaoke Microphones, the Best Cheap Microphone Under $50, the Best USB Microphones, and the Best Live Vocal Mics you can buy in 2021.
Also, take a look at our comprehensive reviews of the Best Wireless Microphones, the Best Karaoke Machines, the Best Music Streamers, the Best Tailgate Speakers, the Best Party Speakers, and the Best Karaoke Speakers currently on the market.
Best Sing-Along Songs – Final Thoughts
So, were there any songs on my list that would make it into your top ten? I’m guessing that might be one or two. However, the great thing about music, and sing-alongs, is that just about everyone will have their own unique choice of songs.
For those of you that want to organize and take your sing-alongs a little more seriously, then a karaoke machine is always a good idea. On a tight budget, the Singing Machine SML625BTBKD with Bluetooth is a great choice. For those with deeper pockets, the Singing Machine iSM1030BT has some great additional features with improved quality audio quality.
Those of you who would like to take their singing further…
I’d heartily encourage you to do so. There are a few individuals who are blessed with astonishing natural talent. However, most singers are made through practice and tuition rather than being born to it.
If you want to up your game for sing-alongs, or you’re thinking of performing as a vocalist, I’d advise you to take a look at Fitness Training’s Teach Yourself to Sing! by Jane Edgren. It’s available in Paperback or Kindle and is a great resource to set you on the right track.
Now go sing your heart out and enjoy every second of it!