Jump in your DeLorean and let’s turn back time as we visit one of the most glorious times in pop history for the Best 80s Karaoke Songs. The charts were full of songs powered by big voices, big hooks and big emotions – almost all of which were sung by people with equally big hair. And somehow, they’re still just as good now (except for ‘Agadoo’, obvs). Whether you want to sing smooth soul, beefy ballads or delightful duets, the 80s had something for you. Let’s look at some of the highlights…
Where better to start our Best 80s Karaoke Songs list than with the biggest moment from the biggest voice of the decade? And it’s the hardest song to sing from our entire list. From the a cappella introduction to the soaring crescendo, even the finest singers will struggle to get close to Whitney. Pull it off, though, and you’ll be the star of the night. Bonus fact: it was written by country star Dolly Parton.
Officially the most played song in the history of radio, ‘Every Breath You Take’ was a smash hit all over the globe. While it’s a Best 80s Karaoke Songs classic, think again if you’re singing it as a dedication to your ex. As the words flash up on the screen, you’ll see it’s anything but a nice love song. Don’t feel bad, though. Sting didn’t realise how sinister it was, and he wrote it!
Michael Jackson was already a big deal, but Michael Jackson after ‘Billie Jean’ was something else. It’s hard to imagine in the social media age, but he was more famous than the biggest stars of sport, film and music combined. ‘Billie Jean’ was the moment it happened, its lean disco-funk and his charismatic vocals creating an instantly legendary moment. Time to perfect your moonwalk, put on a white glove, and channel your inner Jacko.
If it’s a love song you’re after, this is a far safer choice. So safe, in fact, that James Corden famously asked Stevie to sing it to his wife on Carpool Karaoke. Nowadays people are more likely to leave a call unanswered, while back in Stevie’s day you’d answer without even knowing who was calling. But ‘I Just WhatsApped To Say I Love You’ doesn’t really work, eh?
Like ‘Every Breath You Take’ from earlier in our Best 80s Karaoke Songs list, ‘Careless Whisper’ sounds like a love song but is really the opposite. The late, great George Michael’s silky smooth vocal tells the story of a man who is haunted by his guilt after cheating on his partner and knows that things will never be the same again. A word of warning: if you’re singing it and hiding a secret, watch those dance moves. Guilty feet have got no rhythm.
This one hits different. Once named as Spotify UK’s most popular love song, Richard Marx’s piano ballad is all about longing for that special person that you’re separated from. He wrote it for his girlfriend, who was in South Africa. But with no Zoom or social media back in 1989, he had to post it to her instead. Marx is number 6 on our Best 80s Karaoke Songs list.
“Just a small-town girl / Living in a lonely world…” You know the rest! The power ballad that refused to die, ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ pops up everywhere. It’s been used in ‘Glee’, ‘The Sopranos’, ‘Family Guy’ and the West End hit musical ‘Rock of Ages’. It even became an unlikely UK Christmas number one single, with LadBaby’s comedy take ‘Don’t Stop Me Eatin’. The original is the best, though, the ultimate motivation to keep following your dreams.
If your father yells “What you gonna do with your life?”, there’s only one thing you can do: gather your besties for a girls’ night in and all belt out Cyndi Lauper’s 80s anthem together. Why not make an event of it and dress in the bright and boisterous 80s fashion that Cyndi and her crew wore in the video? Personally we’d skip the 80s haircut, but you’re welcome to give it a try.
Way before Rickrolling, his Fortnite emote or even the internet, Rick Astley first came to fame by promising he’ll never gonna up you up, let you down or desert you. He’s still singing it over thirty years later and it sounds as good as it did back in 1987. So bust out your best Astley shuffle and join the fun!
When you’re heartbroken but still hopeful, there’s no better song to lose yourself in than ‘I Wanna Know What Love Is’. If you sing your soul into its epic hook, you’ll be optimistic for better times ahead. And if even that doesn’t help, the closing gospel choir will work their magic to lift your spirits.
One Whitney tune is never enough in a Best 80s Karaoke Songs list! So let’s move onto a second essential song from ‘The Bodyguard’, which was later sampled by Drake for ‘Tuscan Leather’. This time Whitney is full of soul and sass as she struts to the most dramatic key change of the decade, belting out a truly unforgettable chorus.
Just broken up with someone? Tired of the tears that follow? A quick rendition of Roxette’s signature break-up ballad won’t solve anything, but you will feel a whole lot better for four minutes. Disclaimer: tears will return.
The duet is the karaoke world’s slow dance. Time to get close with the love of your life, and wrap your loving harmonies around each other. Can anyone show us how it’s done better than two Motown icons? Is anything better than endless love? No.
Let’s get to the point. ‘Take On Me’ is probably the all-time greatest ‘80s synth-pop song. Everyone loved it when it came out, they loved it years later, and people are still discovering it today. But be warned, karaoke stars: Rolling Stone described it as “having one of the hardest-to-sing choruses in pop history.”
15. Toto – ‘Africa’
Yes, it’s the song that launched a million memes and even soundtracked a love scene in ‘Stranger Things’. A soft rock paradise full of sparkling synths and an irresistible bassline, ‘Africa’ is a song that you love for the bantz before realising it’s an absolute banger. Maybe the lyrics can be questioned, but you’ll hardly notice when it’s time to sing, “It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you.”
Our other pitch-perfect picks for Whitney are larger-than-life show-stopping ballads, but that voice could do anything. It’s a shot of electrifying, exuberant energy, and another towering vocal for confident karaoke queens to conquer.
Sometimes girls just wanna have fun, but other times you want to wallow in what might’ve been. That’s the appeal of Cyndi Lauper’s reflection on a love that wasn’t meant to be.
Next up in our Best 80s Karaoke Songs list is Survivor. Your girl crush may well be Rihanna, but you’ll feel like Rocky as soon as you start singing ‘Eye Of The Tiger’. Your challenge is to rise up to the challenge of your rivals and deliver a knockout performance in one-four minute round. Much easier than Rocky’s endless fights with all the iconic muscle men of the ‘80s.
While ‘Billie Jean’ was innovative, Michael Jackson was just as strong as the more conventional ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’. Taken from his landmark 1987 album ‘Bad’, it’s a unique challenge for any karaoke singer and number 19 on our Best 80s Karaoke Songs round up. The instantly addictive hook calls for pure melody, but who can possibly recreate Jacko’s quirky ad libs?
20. Heart – ‘Alone’
A constant fixture in the decade’s charts, the power ballad was one of the biggest musical trends of the decade. The formula was simple: mood-setting verses, an epic chorus, booming drums and a guitar/sax/keyboard solo (delete as applicable). One of the very best examples is ‘Alone’, which bursts into life with the declaration: “Till now, I always got by on my own!”
Sure, karaoke is all about the joy of singing, but here’s one for any wannabe drummers too. Phil Collins’ creepy classic isn’t especially hard to sing (you can have some fun trying to copy the echo effect on his voice) which makes it all the more enjoyable to air drum to the sickest beat of the entire decade. Gorilla suit optional (but recommended).
We’ll make this the last Whitney inclusion, otherwise her catalogue of hits will dominate our entire Best 80s Karaoke Songs list. But what a song to finish on. Released for the 1988 Olympics, the power and emotion of her voice elevate the song’s already inspirational lyrics to new heights. It’s a stirring moment for athletes, but also a song that speaks to anyone who is striving to be the best that they can.
Perfect for a two-man karaoke tag team, ‘Just The Two Of Us’ was one of the biggest duets of the decade. Yet despite its two immensely talented singers, it hadn’t been rediscovered in the way other 80s favourites have been. That all changed in 2020. The granddaughter of co-writer William Salter posted the song on TikTok, making it an unexpected viral sensation.
What’s the sweetest moment of ‘Stranger Things?’ That’ll be when Dustin and Suzie (or Dusty-bun and Suzie-poo) reconnected with an impromptu duet of ‘Never Ending Story’. But it’s still an essential choice if you’re going solo, as proven by Limahl’s original. It was the main theme to the fantasy film of the same name, a childhood favourite about a kid flying around on a giant fluffy dragon. (Spoiler: it ends).
While power ballads were often big and brash, Spandau Ballet’s ‘True’ proved they could be done with grace and soul. It’s a song of completely unguarded love, which includes a soulful nod to Marvin Gaye and a sax solo that everyone copied but no-one equaled. And if you think a couple of the guys from the video look familiar, you’ll be right. That’s Roman Kemp’s dad Martin on guitar and his uncle Gary singing.
Capturing the magic of a scorching summer, ‘Walking On Sunshine’ should soundtrack every season. Almost forty years after it was released, the ultimate feelgood anthem still reaches new audiences every year, popping up in everything from ‘The Big Bang Theory’ to ‘Futurama’, and now our Best 80s Karaoke Songs list. You’ve probably heard it a million times and it still puts a smile on your face everytime. Don’t it feel good?
It’s Saturday night. Lionel’s lyrics set the scene: “Well, my friends, the time has come / To raise the roof and have some fun / Throw away the work to be done / Let the music play on (Play on, play on) / Everybody sing, everybody dance. Lose yourself in wild romance.” But try not to upset the neighbours.
By today’s standards, Slimer and the ghouls in Ghostbusters look old-fashioned but back in 1984 they were the biggest thing on the big screen. That said, you still wouldn’t want them lurking around the house. So if something’s strange in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters. Louder! Ghostbusters!
‘Hungry Eyes’ returned with a bang at the end of 2020, when Sebastian Stan, aka Marvels’ Bucky Barnes, sang it as part of an hilarious video that summed the year up. While it didn’t have the same sense of romance as in ‘Dirty Dancing’, it captured the moment perfectly.
We decided to save the best till last! Let’s ignore the fact that Tina Turner’s signature song is about someone else. ‘The Best’ is perfect for the competitive (and sneaky) singers amongst you. If you save it for the last song of the night and impress your friends, it’ll be your performance that everyone remembers. Even if someone earlier in the evening was technically the best…