At some point, everyone — whether you’re a self-conscious shut in or an out and out go-getter — finds themselves on a stage with a cheap glass of ethanol, a microphone, and a screen filled with scrolling lyrics. But unless you’re a seasoned veteran of purposeful self-embarrassment, you might not know your way through the musical minefield that is a karaoke song list.
That’s where we come in. We’ve scoured the web (and a few of our favorite Portland karaoke hotspots) for the best tunes, putting together a robust list of 20 songs that always make the crowd rock out, regardless of how on-key you are.
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The creme de la creme of ’90s dance hits, this Will Smith single is guaranteed to hype up any audience, especially one that has had a few too many tequila shots.
A sultry single, Say My Name is a rare choice that allows you to live your dream of pop stardom, shrieking out early Beyoncé runs in front of a live audience without any negative repercussions.
Sure, R. Kelly has done some pretty weird, messed up stuff over the past few decades, but all will be forgiven when the digitally-reproduced introduction to his best song ever comes on the speakers.
A sassy choice which finds itself oddly well-suited to fearless intoxicated men, this song comes off as tongue-in-cheek regardless of who’s on the mic — a classic single that many forget even exists.
Good karaoke choices are, by and large, all about the intro. You don’t want to sit up on that stage looking embarrassed while some middling pre-recorded keyboard bangs out a tune’s first 16 bars — and that’s where this cut comes in. Powerful stuff from beginning to end, this one’s the perfect jam to belt out to your questionably-sober audience.
Roses is a tricky one — you have to be energetic and quick enough to hit all the verses, and confident enough to endure a questionably misogynistic outro ( you, know, the part where you have to say “crazy b****” dozens of times). That said, those who can pull it off will find a standing ovation, as this is one of the hottest hits on this list.
What pairs better than hilarious accents, a room full of strangers, and alcohol? Nothing, that’s what.
A perennial hit among longtime R&B fans, this is perhaps most appropriately chosen when on a first date, or out singing with a wedding party.
It may be a bit insensitive to more rural-dwelling folk, but there’s nothing quite like a mid-evening trip to a southern caricature and, of course, belting out the chorus to this little gem always works great with a cold one in hand.
A closet classic which unites the crowd almost highhandedly due to the fact that they haven’t heard it in a decade, Always On Time is so groovy it riles up crowds, but not so intense that you’ll spill your drink.
If you really want to see a spectacle, pick the most introverted member of your party, put their name next to this song, and watch the hilarity ensue. Otherwise, it’s just a very clutch choice for the outgoing among us.
The sounds of the mid-2000s make perfect Karaoke singles for a myriad of reasons, and the steady flowing beat that made Ride Wit Me iconic is also what will distract people from your out-of-tune vocals — we’re not pointing fingers.
A throwback single which makes sure the audience knows just how real you are, Jenny From The Block is actually best sung by a man, for the sheer irony of it.
Break up with your significant other recently? This is the one for you.
If you’ve got decent dance moves but are insecure about your voice, One, Two Step is just the middle ground you are looking for.
No karaoke playlist would be complete without this sultry Bon Jovi single — just make sure that dozens of others haven’t done a better version before you.
The single that relaunched Santana’s career in the early-2000s is also the same one that you should use to launch your karaoke career in the present day.
Want to make everyone in the club mad? Always wanted to know what the heck these guys were saying in thick Jamaican accents? Press play.
Because who doesn’t want to say “OK!!!!” like Lil Jon in front of a room full of strangers?
If you got dragged to the bar by several of your closest friends, and they demand that you sing, this is the jam for you. Why, you ask? Because you only need to say a single word.
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