1. Livin’ on a Prayer by Bon Jovi
Don’t Stop Believin’ has thankfully gone off to live at the retirement home for overplayed songs.
But if you still want to belt an ’80s arena-rock anthem about a couple of starry-eyed working-class kids just trying to get by, Livin’ on a Prayer is exactly what you need.
Your voice will crack after the key changes, but nobody will hear over the roar of the whole bar singing along.
2. Sweet Child o’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses
There are three voices of Axl Rose: the Banshee (“Sha-na-na-na-knees! Knees!”), the Busker (“Don’t you cry tonight”) and the Brit (“I used to lov’er, ooh yeah, but I ’ad to kill ’a”).
And Sweet Child o’ Mine is a ten-point routine for Axl imitators. It starts full-on Banshee, before letting you really chew into the Brit and the Busker on the “Where do we go now?” bridge, which of course ends with a glass-shattering falsetto shriek.
Get that order of a lemon and honey tea in beforehand.
3. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham!
File this one firmly under “utterly ridiculous”, and enjoy every second of it, from the deep-voiced “jitterbug” intro to the seemingly nonsensical chorus (George Michael told an interviewer back in the day that the line was lifted from a note Andrew Ridgeley left for his parents).
The song was released in 1984 and sums up the garish sunny side of the ’80s to a T.
4. Stand by Me by Ben E. King
No karaoke outing is complete without a teary moment, and here’s yours, courtesy of the 1961 classic Stand by Me, which has been covered more than 400 times (no, we’re not including your karaoke version in that count).
Written by Ben E. King, with song-writing legends Leiber and Stoller, the song has its roots in a gospel standard and certainly its reach goes beyond regular pop romance – as evidenced by its inclusion in the 1986 rites of passage movie Stand by Me.
Watch, listen, sing, cry – oh, and enjoy.
5. Happy by Pharrell Williams
There are about 80 unique words in the lyrics to Pharrell’s feel-good smash, but it feels like about ten.
Let’s be honest, when you pick this ditty, you’re looking for minimal effort and maximum crowd-pleasing.
It’s the Macarena for your mouth.
Wrap a heavy coat around your head, jump onto the stage, clap and sing, “Because I’m happy!” about 56 times.
Walk off the stage a lazy champion.
6. Ice, Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice
Every human being should be able to recite at least one couplet from this 1990 global smash hit Ice, Ice, Baby, and do so without shame.
Yes, the song is so stupid in so many ways, but it’s also a stone-cold specimen of pristine pop.
There’s that perfect bassline, swiped from Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie, and, of course, that dance routine with those pants.
Word to your mother.
7. Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen
Eight out of ten audio boffins agree: the only way to stop Carly Rae Jepen’s insanely catchy mega-hit from pinballing around your head for, like, ever is to quite literally sing it free via karaoke here.
Adorable head tilts and cutesy talking-Barbie delivery, optional. Be gone diabolical earworm, be gone!
8. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman by Aretha Franklin
Just the sound of those opening piano chords is enough to send anyone with ears into a swoon, such is the singular beauty of this 1967 Goffin and King classic.
Sing it like a queen, or not at all.
9. You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC
This track from the gazillion-selling Back in Black album is ideal fodder for the lazy karaoke singer.
Simply stand back and watch as the whole bar hollers along to the most joyful chorus in the entire hard rock canon.
10. Billie Jean by Michael Jackson
You want to sing some Michael Jackson, of course, but which Michael Jackson?
It has to be Billie Jean. Watch your buddies’ faces light up when that perfectly crisp, economical beat kicks in; relish every ounce of drama in the tortured vocal in the verses; and fully expect your audience to join in on the heeeeeeeeee-eeeeeee’s that build up to the chorus.
Exit the floor moonwalking.
11. The Real Slim Shady by Eminem
You may want to practise this one at home before you try it out in public, because there will be a whole lot of words coming up on that screen (not all of them accurate), and they will go by super-fast. For extra points, get everyone in the room to stand up at the end, Spartacus style.