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Top Ten Sing-along Guitar Songs

with 31 comments

When you’re at a house party or just with some friends, there is bound to be a guitar lying around somewhere. As everyone gets drunker they demand for someone, anyone, please, to play a song on the the little sister’s wildly out-of-tune Fisher & Paykel nylon-string guitar. It’s incredible the extent to which alcohol makes everyone think they’re Pavarotti (as in a good singer, not a fat Italian.)

Unless you want the crowd to lynch you or at least roll their eyes and walk away, you’ll have to ensure that the songs that you’re going to play are ones that everyone will want to sing along with. If you’re not in intimate settings, then no one wants to hear your beautiful, soulful rendition of Elliot Smith’s entire discography. Trust me. They want a radio hit from the 90s that they can shout along with – and if you don’t strum one out you’ll lose the potential crowd.

Learn these ten, and you’ll always be able to have at least one great sing-along. It’s worth it, even if it means sacrificing some of that indie credibility you’ve been building up for so long.

Oasis – Wonderwall

There’s a reason this is the favourite of buskers everywhere – it’s got so much radio playtime that it’s ingrained into the skull of everyone in Western society. Fortunately, this means that any man, woman or fetus present will be able to sing along for at least the chorus. It’s easy to play, but you’ll need to have a capo on you. This isn’t a song where changing the key around is going to work – people are too familiar with the recording’s melody.

(tab)(youtube)

Smash Mouth – All Star

This is extremely simple to play and was a huge hit at the time – and it’s nice to have a fast, shouty song after all the popular love songs. Enough said.

(tab)(youtube)

Goo Goo Dolls – Iris

Watch out, this song has crazy tuning. Your best bet is just to use the simplified slightly-different-key version which is all over the web. If you’re a guy you’re going to have a lot of trouble singing the very high chorus. This is a good one to sing late in the night when everyone’s a bit quieter – extra points for making a girl cry when you croon “When everything feels like the movies / Yeah you bleed just to know you’re alive…”

(tab)(youtube)

Green Day – Good Riddance (Time of your life)

Like Wonderwall, this is a song that is overplayed to the point of ridiculousness – perfect for busking or a singalong. It’s kinda hard to play the finger-picking version and sing at the same time; chords will substitute nicely – but make sure you pick the intro so people recognise it straight away. Don’t be tempted to slow this one down, it’s a surprisingly fast song.

(tab)(youtube)

Coldplay – Yellow

You may want to take this down a key or two if you’re a guy – Chris Martin’s voice is pretty hard to emulate. Easy to play, and if you forget the words the one you’ll make up will be better than Coldplay’s.

(tab)(youtube)

Leonard Cohen/ Every musician ever – Hallelujah

Whether or not you prefer Buckley’s haunting cover, your best bet is the one from Shrek. It has simple chords, an easy melody and the build-up as you go from the soft early verses to the louder and emotional later ones is fantastic.

(tab)(youtube)

Bryan Adams – Summer of 69

Being a crowd-pleaser isn’t all fun and games. Sometimes it means biting your lip, throwing away your dignity and playing a song by this ridiculous Canadian. His voice is high too, you might have to transpose it down a key – but that’s not hard, the chords are very basic. Sing as loudly as you can – it’ll help drown out the noise of a little part of you dying.

(tab)(youtube)

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under The Bridge

There’s no denying the the RHCPs are hugely popular. Most of their big songs will go down well – but the intro Under The Bridge is what you should try if you’re looking for more kudos – the drunken fools will think you’re Jimi Hendrix’s older, cooler brother. You’re not – but it’s worth learning the intro to give that very false impression for fifteen seconds to people who don’t know any better.

(tab)(youtube)

Ronan Keating – When You Say Nothing At All

See Summer of 69 – basically the same thing except the girls seem to like this one better. Bonus points if your playing can inspire someone to sing the instrumental part.

(tab)(youtube)

Smashing Pumpkins – Today

There’s something about the Smashing Pumpkins that lets them get away with being outrageously angsty – they do it with style and catchy hooks. Plus, you can always say that you’re just singing along for 90′s-nostalgia’s sake. Right? Anyway, don’t bother tuning this to Eb – whether you play it like Billy Corgan or with barre chords won’t make a difference. Extend that outro for as long as you can.

(tab)(youtube)

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Written by atroche

May 12, 2008 at 11:25 pm

Posted in music

Tagged with , ,

31 Responses

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  1. nice compilation

    matt

    August 5, 2008 at 11:39 pm

  2. If I were at a party and someone played any of those songs, I would realize that I was at the wrong party.

    bob

    October 13, 2008 at 8:12 am

  3. I am sorry to say that I only knew two of the greatest! I guess I should brush up a bit!

    Becca

    October 13, 2008 at 8:15 am

  4. Wow. I actually know half of these.

    Emily

    October 13, 2008 at 1:05 pm

  5. all star? no.

    ummm

    October 13, 2008 at 2:10 pm

  6. Ha! Thanks for this… I hate playing weak covers at parties but you’re right, people ask. Good list.

    machina

    October 13, 2008 at 4:09 pm

  7. Wow. This list is shit. Singing any of these songs is a great way to get punched in the face. Here’s a new list in no order whatsoever:
    1. Booze Me Up and Get Me High – Ween
    2. Goofy’s Concern – Butthole Surfers
    3. I Need You Around – Smoking Popes
    4. You Really Got Me – Kinks
    5. Why Can’t I Touch It? – Buzzcocks
    6. Heat of the Moment – Asia
    7. Uncontrollable Urge – Devo
    8. Invincible (The Legend of Billie Jean) – Pat Benetar
    9. Love Your Money – Daisy Chainsaw
    10. ANY SONG THAT’S NOT BY ANY OF THESE CRAPPY BANDS IN THE OLD LIST.
    This is all just off the top of my head. Go set your music collection on fire, and start all over again.

    atom

    October 13, 2008 at 6:32 pm

  8. @atom

    You seriously have the nerve to insult someone else’s taste in music and then list Asia in your list? You’re joking right?

    schism

    October 13, 2008 at 10:47 pm

  9. [...] there has been one 110 hit day, and for today the hit count stands at 199. All coming from one link. the link is a 5 months old and the post has those “Possibly Related Post” [...]

    Hits in « eric has issues

    October 13, 2008 at 11:28 pm

  10. I think that has to be the crappiest list I have ever seen!

    ROFLOL

    October 14, 2008 at 12:11 am

  11. 1) he said SING ALONG, which implies to me a campfire type setting.

    2) i go camping every 3 months where there is a 50-150 person guitar circle, and we play 1/2 these songs already :)

    All-Star is a GREAT addition, as is Iris, i have 1 month to learn them :) and i will!

    Would/Do i listen to these songs daily/normally? no way. Guitar Circle here i come.

    -D

    Daenks

    October 14, 2008 at 1:00 am

  12. no sublime?

    big fail.

    cboyce

    October 14, 2008 at 1:51 am

  13. Nothing like a rousing group of drunks to help you play guitar. Man, this list is pretty solid. Yeah, the songs are fairly overplayed and not that great – that’s the point.

    I think a good easy bonus tune is “Gin and Juice.” It’s really easy and everyone by now has heard the acoustic version by the Gourds, thinking it’s Phish (It’s not.) What’s really fun is to see who can stick it out through any verse past one.

    Matthew Abel

    October 14, 2008 at 3:01 am

  14. I really agree with Bob on this one. As an actual jazz and classical guitar player, this list offends me. (Except the Chili Peppers) 90′s pop is shit, without exception, and most everyone I’ve heard play these songs is a talentless hack that should have their fingers chopped off. This just goes to show that music has been completely sacrificed for marketability. Guitar has so much potential for combining a melodic and harmonic instrument, but all of that has been completely eroded by record companies giving stupid pretty looking assholes a chance to sing and strum about high school because people can’t tell actual art when it slaps them in the face. All they want is a stupid little hook that can be repeated incessantly without variation. It’s crap. All of it. Utter musical gibberish. All of you should culture yourself.

    Agrees with Bob

    October 14, 2008 at 5:53 am

  15. id take the first list over atoms list any day of the week!

    atom sucks

    October 14, 2008 at 5:53 am

  16. “(Except the Chili Peppers) 90’s pop is shit, without exception.”

    Wow, brilliant sentence right there. Way to Remove any credibility on your part in ten easy words.

    nils

    October 14, 2008 at 11:19 am

  17. In the Wonderwall description, its “too” not “to”. kthxbye.

    Mark

    October 14, 2008 at 12:39 pm

  18. Yeah, atom, you suck.

    Asia, lol.

    And a bunch of obscure songs. Nice job, buddy.

    atomisafaggot

    October 14, 2008 at 7:36 pm

  19. I love the Chilli’s, and I’ll admit I’m not a big fan of many of the other bands on the list (I despise Bryan Adams). But after giging in Bars for about 5yrs I already know most of these.
    It’s unfortunate that there are pretentious wankers that also assume they can play better shit.

    “As an actual jazz and classical guitar player”

    Wow, get more than your mates at a gig lately?

    Rock on

    October 14, 2008 at 7:50 pm

  20. Wow, the list is garbage tune-wise, but I’ve been gigging for a while and play half of them regularly… I die a little inside every time, but the drunks at the bar eat that shit up.

    Atom, the author of the list states exactly what it’s for… and I didn’t see “playing random obscure shit so that you look like an elitist asshole so you can have gay man sex” anywhere in his description… truth be told, I love your own list… it’s much better music than what most people listen to, and all of it except Asia, is in my library…

    As for “Agrees With Bob”… congrats on your mediocre life… I read “As a Jr. High Band Teacher…” when you said “actual jazz and classical guitar player”. Wow, your insight into 90′s music is amazing… so you’re implying that 90′s pop was about catchy hooks and talentless hacks? Way to be the first person in the history of the world to point that out… I think the commentary on most 90′s pop has been the same as your scientifically deduced theory…

    Here’s the thing though, catchy hooks sell…

    Did you pick up a guitar to play good music or to be a rock star?

    UJ

    October 15, 2008 at 12:29 am

  21. haha ok so I only know a couple of the songs on the list, all star being one of them and im pretty sure im going to have it stuck in my head for about a week at least!!
    hey now, you’re an all star!!!

    Emily

    October 16, 2008 at 7:57 am

  22. ugh. thumbs down on stumble. Not only are the songs on this list terrible for the most part, but more importantly, is just plain lazy. Yes, the moron majority will eat these songs up and definitely sing along / have a great time when these songs are played. Granted. BUT, with just a small amount of effort put in, a much better list is possible. These are no brainers for sure but there are SO many amazing songs out there, over the course of the last 50+ years that you can find things that a) people will definitely recognize and be able to sing along with AND b) come only a fraction more out of left field without being remotely as obscure as atom’s list (which is fine as well). I mean, anything from the Beatles people are going to know. And their stuff is pretty timeless. I’m sure you could make girls cry with some Beatles tune (if that’s your goal). How much more enjoyable would it be for everyone if all the songs were something they knew but still a pleasant surprise? And as the one performing, I’d much rather hear “wow, those were some great choices of songs, i mean, some of them i totally forgot about, but i used to really love that song…” rather than “man, that was awesome, you just played every song i heard of the soft rock radio station as i drove here…”. There’s generic, and there’s obvious and there’s working on autopilot. And if you EVER picked up any instrument and wanted to learn how to make music with it, autopilot is completely counter productive to that endeavor.
    Search the billboard charts from recent weeks, years past, whatever. There are tons of books out there with compilations of popular music from every era and musical genre. And it’s all on the web too, no? As I said, a small amount of effort and research could have yielded a much more appealing and refreshing take on the subject. Which is something that would have been worthwhile to post for people. Not this drivel. I could have come up with this list in 10 seconds had someone walked up to me and said “name 8 or 9 songs you would NEVER want to play on the guitar in public.” But then again, it’s all subjective and this is just my opinion. I try to live in a world where the goo goo doll’s “Iris” doesn’t exist. This list could be perfect for someone out there, god help them.

    ethan

    October 17, 2008 at 12:27 am

  23. the list is not the best for good trax, but its a good list for sing alongs… everyone knows the words to at least two of the songs on the list… like who doesn’t know the words to wonderwall?

    For the purpose it was designed for its fantastic…

    ©Dave’08
    :D

    atom=stupid

    October 17, 2008 at 12:41 am

  24. Not a bad list. Don’t agree with some, but I can understande a lot of them. Though Hallelujia isn’t exaclt a smash sing along party hit…

    Songs you left off for sure (at least from my experience at bars)…

    Pearl Jam – Yellow Ledbetter
    Sublime – What I Got/Santeria
    Rick Springfield – Jesse’s Girl
    Bon Jovi – Livin’ On a Prayer/Wanted Dead Or Alive
    Journey – Don’t Stop Believing

    Living in a city where cover bands are the norm sucks… and they’ve made me hate all of these songs. Especially the Sublime songs, which I used to love. So many people butchering song and playing them out. It sucks

    Some dude

    October 17, 2008 at 4:42 pm

  25. Make fun of me all you want for ASIA, that’s fine and good. Go youtube the video. You all know all the words and you get to slap your knees and clap your hands. It’s A GOOD FUCKING SING ALONG SONG. Deny it all you want but it’s good. I’m sorry if otherwise my list is too “obscure” for you guys, but obviously you have the internet . . . SO GO LOOK THEM UP. They are really really good songs. I wouldn’t shit you. You’re my favorite turds.

    atom

    October 22, 2008 at 3:53 pm

  26. The quickest way to tell if someone loves music (and not see it like a set of “taste” clubs, like religion) is to listen for the way they put down other styles. Do think that the music you listen to today will be ‘cool’ to anyone in thirty years? Will your children find the red hot chili peppers timeless and hip? Shut the fuck up. If you love music then you love music. Stop making a field of art all about you and your weak self-perception – stop trying to fit in and be liked so much.

    alec

    November 10, 2008 at 1:57 am

  27. Alright list, I go to alot of random college parties and have definitely played some of these songs. I think Third Eye Blind should be on there, though.

    You know, its not about how “cultured” you are. So you hate 90′s rock, congrats. So you’ve seen the light and now only listen to acid jazz, good for you. Music truly isn’t about YOU and its not about being well-versed in what is subjectively good. There’s shit on the radio, but its fun. There’s good stuff that never gets touched, and you’re free to like whatever the hell you want. I can understand hating the list, but trying to say that it sucks because 90′s pop sucks? Gimme a break, what makes you think you’re in the right to judge an entire decade. Its not about how complex, or esoteric, or mathematically sound it all is…did it touch people’s lives? Did it make someone happy? Did it represent people whether you like it or not? Well then, Shut the ever living fuck up. Look at it this way, what you call shit will live on in people’s hearts long after you and your music snobbery are gone. Love music because its music, not because it makes you better for liking other things. How lame.

    thanks alec

    November 19, 2008 at 8:09 pm

  28. I’m sorry if otherwise my list is too “obscure” for you guys, but obviously you have the internet . . . SO GO LOOK THEM UP. They are really really good songs. I wouldn’t shit you. You’re my favorite turds.

    Well it seems that a lot of people dont know your songs dude…so what? your gonna tell people at a house party or whatever to GO LOOK THEM UP? not really gonna work man…at least everyone knows these songs and thts the whole point…

    WTF?

    December 11, 2008 at 5:34 am

  29. I would just like to say a big thank you to all who have posted comments, its been hysterical reading the generic hate people have for each other on the internet. (and the guy who posted the original list) Cheers all, you made me laugh!… btw about the comment someone made about cutting ones fingers off, I struggled to laugh at that one because I have actually lost my four fingers on my left hand in a saw mill accident… so all who can play the guitar, keep doing so for me…

    Peace.

  30. I find it good to have a wide repertoire of various styles of music to play in a group sing-along setting. That way, if you start playing and you notice that only a couple people know the words, you can go on to something else. I’ve definitely found myself learning some “pop” songs solely because I knew they were catchy enough to warrant a sing-along. That’s the point of pop! It’s catchy and sticks in people’s heads! There is a definite distinction between being just a “musician” and being a “performer.” The latter requires you to be in tune (no pun intended!) with your audience and what they want to hear (or sing along with in this case). Just because you are a really awesome guitarist doesn’t mean you’ll be able to entertain at a party…and you can entertain at a party without being a really awesome guitarist! You CAN have it both ways, just don’t feel ashamed to learn a few simple pop songs. I’ll quote something the author said in the original post: “It’s worth it, even if it means sacrificing some of that indie credibility you’ve been building up for so long.” True dat.

    That said, there were a couple tunes on the original list that I personally couldn’t imagine anybody I know singing along to. But like I said, different tunes for different audiences. Here are a few of my own additions:

    -”Wish You Were Here” – Pink Floyd (I’m surprised nobody mentioned this one! A true sing-along classic.)
    -”Closing Time” – Semisonic
    -”The General” – Dispatch (mainly the college crowd)
    -”Brown-Eyed Girl” – Van Morrison
    -”American Pie” – Don McLean
    -”Hey Ya” – Outkast (remember how hot this was for a while? People will be like “oh snap!”)
    -”Tribute” – Tenacious D
    -”Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” – Jack Johnson (for the ladies)
    -”Dammit” – Blink-182
    -”Semi-Charmed Life” – Third Eye Blind
    -”Let it Be” – The Beatles

    You should notice that these songs are 1) easily recognizable with fairly memorable lyrics, 2) mostly high-energy songs with a couple slower, softer numbers thrown in, and 3) fairly easy for you to remember and play while inebriated =D. And if there are any music elitists at the party who decide to talk trash on your song choices, I guarantee they’ll be the only one(s) there not having a good time…unless, of course, you’re at a party full of music elitists!

    Steve

    January 24, 2009 at 4:18 pm

  31. @everyonetalk

    Not trying to be insulting in anyway but I’ve always thought about a complicated design on an artificial hand that could be used to play guitar. Nothing electronic, but something loaded with springs and pullies and what not where you use your wrist and elbow to manipulate where you place you’re fingers. I think I need to give it some more thought, what do you guys think?

    Neutron

    February 5, 2009 at 9:57 am


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