Music | Hair Metal

The Best Rock Karaoke Songs (of All-Time)

From Classic Rock to Hair Metal, here are some rock songs you should consider the next time you take the stage at a karaoke bar.

80s rock band playing hair metal songs on the Sunset Strip

Livin’ on a Prayer (Bon Jovi)

Why you should sing this at karaoke: Livin’ on a Prayer might just be the best song of all-time. It’s got all of the elements, excellent verse, a pre-chorus that’s better than most choral parts from hit songs, and arguably the best written chorus of all-time (thank you, Desmond Child). The song is a certified party slayer. It is the reason why Slippery When Wet sold 12 million copies.

Why you shouldn’t do it: The three-step key change. At the end of Livin’ on a Prayer is a three step key change from E Minor to G Minor that even girls struggle to hit. So you know DudeBros aren’t hitting those notes.

Pour Some Sugar On Me (Def Leppard)

Why you should sing this at karaoke: It’s Pour Some Sugar On Me. It’s Hysteria. It’s loud, it’s powerful, and everyone wants to sing along. Some may even want to dance. No, not that kind of dancing.

The verse is half-rapped, so it’s not like you need Freddie Mercury’s pipes to pull it off - not like the Prayer key change. And, you’ll get at least 3-5 people in the crowd screaming the chorus. Double and, the, “You got the peaches, I got the cream” run toward the finale is a great chance to assert your dominance over the karaoke crowd.

Lastly, if Tom Cruise could do it in the movie, Rock Star, you’ll be just fine.

Why you shouldn’t do it: The boys of Def Leppard love playing guitar. As such, Def Leppard’s Pour Some Sugar On Me has a rippin’ two-guitar attack after chorus #2 and it will leave you, the singer, just kind of hanging around on the karaoke stage for just long enough to feel awkward.

Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)

Why you should sing this at karaoke: Speaking of Mercury ...

We’re including this only because reliving your fantasy of being in a small blue car with 4 of your friends and headbanging to Bohemian Rhapsody like Wayne and Garth is real. Don’t worry, it’s our dream too.

Why you shouldn’t do it: You can’t sing like Freddie Mercury. Not many can. Plus, neither can your friends, who you’ll need for the multi-layered harmonies. It’s also really, really long.

LET ME GOOOOOO!

Jump (Van Halen)

Why you should sing this at karaoke: Karaoke Night, like any night about the 80s, should include this track off of Van Halen’s 1984 album. Every great 80s cover band plays it, every great movie about the 80s includes Van Halen (Back to the Future, Better Off Dead, even Ready Player One), and everyone knows it.

Jump isn’t vocally challenging, which qualifies it for being listed among the best karaoke songs of all time. It’s a crowd-pleaser that simply makes people want to party.

Why you shouldn’t do it: There is no reason to not do Van Halen’s Jump.

Eye of the Tiger (Survivor)

Why you should sing this at karaoke: Rocky Montage Music.

Why you shouldn’t do it: It's not 1982 anymore. In fact, this isn't even the best of Rocky's montage music. That belongs to John Cafferty and Robert Tepper who are on the Rocky IV soundtrack with Hearts On Fire and No Easy Way Out, respectively.

Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC)

Why you should sing this at karaoke: There is not a person in the world that cares about how Shook Me All Night Long gets sung. People hear the opening riff to one of the best rock songs in history and it’s pistons-popping, cylinders firing, and ignitions ... igniting. Whatever that all means.

AC/DC is a rock band that plays one song, and Shook Me is the most recognizable when it comes to karaoke. It’s also great for both dancing AND drinking, so all the ladies and all the guys will enjoy it.

Unless you hate AC/DC, which no one does.

Why you shouldn’t do it: Shook Me All Night Long is a song that requires reading the night. If the night is filled with a lot of sugary pop, Britney Spears for example, then maybe wait until the drinks set in a bit later in the karaoke’ing.

Same goes for nights that are filled with Blondie tunes or Sweet Caroline.

I Love Rock ‘n Roll

Why you should sing this at karaoke: This 1981 smash hit from Joan Jett & the Blackhearts is among the safest karaoke songs that one can perform. It’s catchy, it’s powerful, it’s popular, but it’s those things in appropriate doses.

Girls love it, guys love it, and bartenders and karaoke DJs don’t hate it, which is key when it comes to song selection.

Why you shouldn’t do it: Don’t do this song if there’s no one in the crowd. It’s got too much power to be underwhelming by being sung in an unattended karaoke bar.

Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey)

Why you should sing this at karaoke: It’s one of the biggest songs in the entire karaoke catalogue. Don’t Stop Believin’ is just a great song, period. Sprinkle in a bar crowd singing along and you’re riding the money train to karaoke stardom for 4 minutes and 11 seconds.

Unless you don’t possess the golden pipes. You have the golden pipes, right? After all, you DID select Don’t Stop Believin’ ...

Why you shouldn’t do it: Steve. Perry.

Welcome to the Jungle (Guns N’ Roses)

Why you should sing this at karaoke: You have an Appetite for Destruction. And the only cure, is more Jungle.

Also, to pump up the crowd. Vocalists wishing to tackle Welcome to the Jungle are encouraged if their vocals stand on their own. Meaning, it’s within their range and abilities. Having stage presence is very key to Jungle.

Why you shouldn’t do it: The crowd could/will be disinterested. Plus, you can’t hit the shrill Axl scream to begin the song. And if you can’t, you better be able to slither like Axl and command the stage.

For if you don’t, you’ll be reminded of where you are, and that’s in the Jungle, baby

... and you’re gonna dieeeeeeeeee!

Nothin’ But A Good Time (Poison)

Why you should sing this at karaoke: Like Barney Stinson’s Get Psyched playlist, no karaoke night would be complete without this little ditty off of Poison’s second album, Open Up And Say Ahh. Nothin’ But A Good Time was the party rock anthem before Party Rock Anthem.

It’s basically a rock and roll duet between Bret Michaels and the hedonistic lifestyle of the Sunset Strip. Which is what you’re trying to recreate by doing karaoke, right?

Why you shouldn’t do it: Poison is not the typical choice when it comes to karaoke songs. And, it’s not even their most recognizable song - that would be Every Rose Has Its Thorn.

Black Dog (Led Zeppelin)

Why you should sing this at karaoke: If you can - and you probably can’t - but if you can do Black Dog, by all means do it, and do it every single time you go to karaoke. The song is among the finest that Cock Rock has to offer.

You’'ll be the hero of the night.

Why you shouldn’t do it: Robert Plant was a rock god for a reason. He had the juice. Do you?

Other Songs to Consider

You'll find some older Classic Rock songs that could be fun, should you dig into the DJ/Host's songbook. Dream On by Aerosmith could be fun. Speaking of Aerosmith, same goes for Come Together by The Beatles. And The Boys Are Back In Town. Always a classy tune.

Fast forward a year or two and Satisfaction from The Rolling Stones comes to mind. Same goes for Born In The U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen. Tread lightly on the latter though, as that song can be interpreted in a couple of different ways. Can't go wrong with David Bowie.

We tend to be lukewarm on Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Your mileage may vary.

Don't Singe These Rock Music Karaoke Songs

Never do any songs from these bands.

  • Foo Fighters
  • Nirvana
  • Oasis

They are not great karaoke songs. Save Wonderwall for your shower. Leave Smells Like Teen Spirit back in the 90s. And for the love of everything holy about rock and roll, don’t usurp the cool of Uncle Dave (Grohl) from the Foo Fighters. He’s great, their pretty good, and their songs are 100% trash for karaoke.

You’re better off picking Seven Nation Army, which coincidentally enough is a Forbidden Guitar Store Riff than anything from those three bands.

Speaking of Forbidden Riffs, don’t do Hotel California from The Eagles or Stairway to Heaven from Led Zeppelin. The former is a snoozer and the latter is untouchable.

Other songs you should never, ever, EVER, consider at karaoke is everything the Butt Rock genre. It’s bad enough that they exist on their own, don’t exacerbate the problem. Not even as a dare.

Wrapping Up

This is a decent list of tunes for your group's next Karaoke Night, as there are plenty of rock songs to go around. Some key takeaways include:

  1. Stay away from Freddie Mercury. Same goes for Michael Jackson.
  2. Make it fun and win the crowd (ex. Van Halen's Jump)
  3. Have a blast!

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References & Sources

  1. https://www.loudersound.com/features/the-story-behind-the-song-def-leppard-s-push-some-sugar-on-me