What’s the best karaoke song? There are the songs you pick because they’re easy to sing and the absolute belters which only work after five pints. Ever wanted to know what your favourite musicians, actors and comedians sing if they’re at the karaoke bar? We’ve been finding out. From Slash, to Bryan Cranston – these are the best karaoke songs according to the stars.
Father John Misty – R Kelly, ‘I Believe I Can Fly’
“I love karaoke. ‘I Believe I Can Fly’. There’s a place on the Lower East Side called Sing Sing where you can just sit at the bar and sing karaoke, by yourself. And I really enjoy that.”
St Vincent - Kate Bush, 'Wuthering Heights'
‘It depends on how drunk I am. If I’m buzzed on a glass or two of white wine, then I’ll go for ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, but if I’m feeling really ambitious, I’ll do Kate Bush. It’s such a hard song to sing, there are key-changes and bars that drop beats and stuff, so if you can nail it, it’s awesome.'
Taylor Hawkins – David Bowie, Anything
“I like to do David Bowie. He has a good range for me and I do a good David Bowie impersonation. I did ‘Let’s Dance’ not too long ago.”
Kevin Parker – Britney Spears, ‘…Baby One More Time’
It would be something by Britney Spears, going in the vein of the shittest, most disposable pop ever. Anything from her first album, really. The last time I did karaoke was a bar in Perth. It was our manager’s birthday. We used to do it every Thursday at this pub down the road from us – it was one of those things where it was the whole pub and everyone gets up. My friend would always do ‘With Or Without You’ by U2, trying to win the audience’s approval. I did Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Suzie Q’.”
Yannis Philippakis – John Farnham, 'You're The Voice'
"It’s a fucking massive ballad from the 80s, and there’s a key change in it that just makes me wanna flex. It’s in my vocal register as well. I like belting it out with some tepid, overpriced sake and over-enthusiastic girls in Shibuya, Japan."
Slash – None
"I hate karaoke with a passion. My wife likes it and some of my friends do, so I often get dragged to these things. I last about five minutes, and then I dial a cab. I’m sorry but I don’t have that sort of jazz-hands thing in me, I just can’t do it."
Brett Anderson – Frank Sinatra, 'Strangers In The Night'
"The crooners are always the easiest to pull off, so I’d choose ‘Strangers In The Night’ or ‘The Windmills Of Your Mind’. When me and Bernard were in The Tears touring Japan we had a hilarious drunken karaoke session. We invited Ian Brown as he was playing with us at a festival, but he couldn’t make it."
Grace Jones – John Lennon, ‘Imagine’
“When I was doing my first auditions and asked to make my first record, that’s the one track that I went in the studio to do. So if I was to do karaoke, I would be fine at doing that one.”
Tulisa – No Doubt, ‘Don’t Speak’
“I’m a karaoke fan – it’s just finding somewhere because I’m afraid to do karaoke and then everyone says: ‘I swear that’s that girl.’ I’d feel like a t**t and someone would say: ‘Looking for attention, are you love?’ But at home it’s karaoke every night in my house.”
Mel C – Neneh Cherry, ‘Buffalo Stance’
“I’ve always fancied myself as more of an urban artist. I totally cannot do it, but you know, in the safety of the drunken haze…”
Jessica Alba – The Beatles, ‘Let It Be’
“I don’t do karaoke. I dance with other people and give people shots to give them courage. I’ve done it, like, twice. Once I was with my family at a Mother’s Day ball and I sang ‘Let It Be’. I was seven and everyone told me that I couldn’t sing and they all joined in because my voice was so bad – a little bit of family humiliation.”
Zane Lowe – REM, ‘The One I Love’
“I absolutely am a karaoke fan, but I haven’t done it in a very long time. I remember I did it once on a road trip in America and sang ‘The One I Love’ with a friend of mine. The range is very high on that, it’s very hard. When he sings the word ‘fire’ it’s a total struggle. It was a disaster.”
Mac DeMarco, 'What A Fool Believes' – The Doobie Brothers
‘I love doing ‘What A Fool Believes’ at sketchy karaoke bars. Around Canada you do karaoke where all the hardened alcoholic people hang out. I’m usually so totally wasted when I’m doing it, it’s not very triumphant.’
Ronnie Spector – The Ronettes, ‘Baby, I Love You’
“I never liked karaoke – I was never a fan. But one time I did it because my friend’s mother had just died. He said, ‘Can you please come? I’m so lonely.’ My husband and I went over to this karaoke bar and for some reason they recognised me, so they put ‘Baby, I Love You’ on the karaoke machine. I got up and sang. I kinda liked it!”
Joey Bada$$ – Sizzla, ‘Give Me a Try’
“The note that he’s hitting on that shit is, like, impossible to hit, so every time it comes on I just be trying to get it, singing along. I haven’t hit it yet though.”
Stan Lee – Anything
“A friend of mine had a set once, I’d go over and we’d kid around on it. I don’t remember what I sang – I have the world’s worst memory. In my mind I’m the best singer in the world, it’s just that no one else can stand it.”
Tinie Tempah – Jay Z & Alicia Keys, 'Empire State Of Mind'
"I’m not a big karaoke fan, but I’ve noticed recently they’ve started throwing a few hip-hop songs into the choice of tracks. So if I had to do one song, it’d be this. It’s a big anthem with great lyrics and a big hook. It definitely fulfils the criteria of a great karaoke song."
Cillian Murphy – The Kinks, ‘You Really Got Me’
“I don’t do karaoke. You know how some people don’t like massages? They don’t like massages; I don’t like karaoke. I had to sing ‘You Really Got Me’ by The Kinks in Disco Pigs. It was in a karaoke bar – that was the character. That’s a part of the role, but I enjoy it. I enjoy any chance to get in front of a microphone in a role. I’ll do it.”
David Haye – Bobby Darin, ‘Mack The Knife’
“It would have to be some sort of song that doesn’t require too much singing so like ‘half sing/half talk’. It makes sound like you know what you’re doing but you don’t really.”
Anaïs Gallagher – Blur, ‘Parklife’
“I’m not a karaoke person, but if I had to pick something I’d probably pick this – just for the irony.”
Huw Stephens – Beastie Boys, ‘Intergalactic’
“‘Hello Nasty’ was a big album for me – it all sounded so incredible. I’d listen to their rhymes and tightness over and over, and the production is awesome. I loved their humour and playfulness."
Peter Serafinowicz – Paul McCartney
& Wings, ‘Bluebird’
“I would probably do a Paul McCartney song. About three years ago, 6Music did this Christmas gig at the Union Chapel with Paul Weller. They had little comedy bits in between and I did my Paul McCartney impression. I think people were disappointed because, given the line-up, it was quite plausible that Paul McCartney would be there. I felt like I’d ruined people’s Christmas.”
Miles Teller – Bon Jovi, ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’
“I did this in a bar at college and loved it. I’m not sure I could get away with it again! If I was really gonna go for it now I’d do ‘Mustang Sally’ by Wilson Pickett. But my lucky song that got me through a few auditions is that Tom Jones classic ‘It’s Not Unusual’.”
Tom Daley – S Club 7, ‘Reach’
“I used to do karaoke when I was younger as my dad thought it would be good for me to be able to stand on stage and not get too nervous because I was diving in front of lots of people. I used to love it. I also sang at my auntie’s wedding while dressed as Elvis.”
Danny Brown – Ol' Dirty Bastard, 'Shimmy Shimmy Ya'
"I’ve never done karaoke. That’s how I make my money, by performing, so why would I do it for free?! But if I had to? ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’. It’s just a fun song and it’s easy to fuck up the lyrics and shit because it’s already fucked up."
Slick Rick – Dionne Warwick, ‘Walk on By’
“I’ve never done karaoke before but I know a lot of Dionne Warwick songs. I sample ‘Walk On By’ in one of my songs, ‘Mona Lisa’. It’s like how people like Frank Sinatra, she’s like a female urban Frank Sinatra. She then passed her baton to Diana Ross.”
Bryan Cranston – Looking Glass, ‘Brandy’
“I realised recently I’ve never done karaoke so I don’t have a go-to. But my instinct would be to make it funny… “They say, ‘Brandy, you’re a fine girl / What a good wife you would be!’” Remember that one? It was a big hit for Looking Glass in the early ’70s. I’d have to pick a song like that, with a story to it, and perform it like a dramatic reading.”
Finn Jones – Coolio, 'Gangster's Paradise'
"I tend to shy away from karaoke, but when I was about nine I went through a stage of doing ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ at every opportunity. There have been some karaoke sessions involving the Game Of Thrones cast: we do ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ by Bon Jovi."
Russell Kane – Elvis Presley, ‘Jailhouse Rock’
“It’s just what I can sing; I would never listen to it. When I lived in Walthamstow we used to get absolutely hammered and sing in the pub on Walthamstow Market. I’d always finish the night with ‘Summer Nights’ from Grease.”
Dee Dee Penny – The Pretenders, 'I'll Stand By You'
"First rule of karaoke – you’ve gotta be drunk. And there’s no better song to get drunk to and sing along with than ‘I’ll Stand By You’. When it’s my turn on the mic in karaoke, I’m like, right, let’s clear the room with some fucking cheesy ballads."
Miles Kane – Bobby Womack, 'Baby! You Oughta Think It Over'
"I’ve been listening to this a lot recently. It’s just a great little pop tune. It’s not a novelty song or anything, it’s just what I am digging."
Angel Haze – Leona Lewis, 'Bleeding Love'
"I suck at it, all those high notes, but it’s fun to try and sing and I love that song. I actually did karaoke in London once – with Leona. She was such a douche though – she sang her own song! I was like, really? You’re really gonna do your own track? I mean c’mon, who freakin’ does that? She’s cool though."
Ian McCulloch – Echo And The Bunnymen, 'Lips Like Sugar'
"I’ve only done karaoke in Japan when I was out of my mind. It had a knob where you could change the key. I was going up and down, but I couldn’t get near. I said ‘Have you got one where it’s pre-recorded and I can mime?’ It was just me, our manager and someone from the label going ‘This isn’t going so well."
Ray Davies – The Kinks, 'All Day And All Of The Night'
"I was in Austin, Texas at South By Southwest. I went to a Korean karaoke bar with a couple of friends and sang ‘All Day And All Of The Night’, and nobody recognised me. I guess The Kinks weren’t big in Korea."
Mark Foster, Foster The People – 'Take On Me', A-Ha
"I try my best to avoid karaoke because I get super nervous and get stage fright. But we went out for my friend’s birthday last week and I sang ‘Take On Me’ and it broke the ice. I picked that song because the people before me had picked really depressing songs, so I wanted to get the party started."
Kathleen Hanna – Dolly Parton, ‘I Will Always Love You’
“I used to be a karaoke host when I lived in Olympia, Washington, and sang it as my goodbye song the day before I left town. I also used to do the Clash’s ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ but changed the words to ‘Am I good karaoke host now?’ I’m sure that’s total sacrilege in many people’s eyes but the crowd loved it. Or at least I pretended they did.”
Ice T – Mobb Deep, 'Shook Ones'
"I’ve never done karaoke, but every time ‘Shook Ones’ by Mobb Deep comes on I need to sing every word. I’m obsessed with lyrics, and songwriting is the base of everything I do. I go out of my way to write records that you can sing along with, that make you think, that might change your life."
Conor Oberst – Bobby Brown, 'My Prerogative'
"I last sang it about a year ago when Desaparecidos, one of my other bands, had been doing these weird writing band camp trips in like this really remote town in Minnesota. There's absolutely nothing in the town, but there is one little bar and one night a week a lady comes in with a PA and they have a karaoke night."
Tom Fleming, Wild Beasts – Rick Astley, 'Never Gonna Give You Up'
"The problem with being a singer when you’re doing karaoke is that it’s hard to navigate, socially. There’s lots to consider. Do you do it properly? Do you back off a bit? I do a good ‘Ring of Fire’, but for someone who’s a little guy with a big voice then it’s surely gotta be Rick Astley."
Danger Mouse – Billy Idol, 'White Wedding'
"I love going to karaoke, but I won’t get up there myself. If I did, ‘White Wedding’ would be cool. Billy Idol should be OK for anyone to sing – you can usually cover yourself in glory with his tunes."
Joe Mount – The Smashing Pumpkins, 'Bullet With Butterfly Wings'
"I’ll take any song I can at karaoke – I’m an all-rounded. Having said that, my strength is probably anything sung by Billy Corgan. I do a very good impression of him."
Bear Grylls – Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes – ‘Up Where We Belong’
“I remember doing karaoke with an old bunch of soldiers in Marrakech years ago. We’d been out in the desert for a long time and we had a night off in a weird backstreet bar in the middle of this Moroccan city. It was very tough soldiers suddenly looking very ridiculous singing silly songs. We all did ‘Up Where We Belong’ and it was pretty messy.”
Jamie Reynolds - 'Don’t Stop Believin’, Journey
‘I don’t know whether I’ve ever sung this, but I think it’s the ultimate karaoke song. Our recent tour was the first time I’ve not had a drink before going onstage, so I can confirm that I don’t need to be drunk to sing in front of people.’
Matt Berry - 'Axel F', Harold Faltermeyer
‘I only do karaoke half-cut, so this song [an instrumental] would be the best option for everyone concerned. It would also help me to maintain some dignity and prevent me from being saddled with an iPhone reminder.’
Alexis Taylor, Hot Chip - 'Purple Rain', Prince
‘I did ‘Purple Rain’ with Peaches in Australia once. There is a photo of us doing it, and my expression of pained sincerity is pretty funny/appalling.’