Top Ten Sing-along Guitar Songs
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.
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.
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…”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.