One of the best ways to make a karaoke performance a sure success is to choose a song that fits within your vocal range. While you are more than welcome to bust out an Ariana Grande karaoke song with a baritone voice (in fact we encourage it), if you are nervous about performing or want to show of your vocal skills, you might want to choose a song better suited for your voice.
We have some suggestions and tips from Katie Sanakai of 30 Day Singer and Guitar Tricks about finding the best karaoke song to suit your voice.
Karaoke tips for all vocal ranges
If you aren’t sure what your vocal range is, be sure to check a vocal range chart. For all vocal ranges, try to stick to the following guidelines when choosing a song:
1. Keep it short: 4 minutes at most is great. Try not to choose the 5-6 minute songs (sorry 80s hair bands!) as your audience will lose interest.
2. Pick a song that is a strength for your style of singing: you have to bring emotion to a karaoke performance so pick something you can “play up” or “act out” with some character. Whether it’s playing the tough rocker, the broken heart, or the diva you need to a skilled performer as well as a singer to capture the audience’s attention.
3. Practice in advance: you can use Singa to practice your song successfully at home all the way through instead of winging it at the karaoke bar. At least some vocal warm ups before hand will go a long way.
Now let’s look at some tips and song choices for each voice part:
Karaoke for sopranos
Sopranos may want to show off a little bit! If it’s within your range, you can choose the big divas like Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey. Any of the modern pop singers will also fit well, or if you want a more retro sound try the 70s artists (ABBA, disco stars like Gloria Gaynor, or Olivia Newton-John).
Read more about the best karaoke songs for females here.
Modern pop singers are adept as using their “belt” voice that sounds like a chest voice even in a very high range. Most singers can’t replicate that exact sound, but the good news is those songs will sound good even in your regular soprano singing voice since people who wing in this vocal range won’t need to enter into falsetto singing these songs. Don’t try to push it too hard, just sing it in your own natural voice and you’ll like the result.
Best karaoke songs for sopranos:
- Only Girl – Rihanna
- Physical – Olivia Newton-John
- Dreamlover – Mariah Carey
- Dancing Queen – ABBA
- Unconditionally – Katy Perry
Karaoke for altos
For altos who feel most comfortable in the chest voice, try classic or modern country or classic rock and roll. Look for a song with a great chorus that the audience can join you on. In order to sing clearly and make sure you are understood, make sure to think about your diction (the way singers pronounce words with extra emphasis on the consonants).
The 80s provides a lot of fodder for altos! Classic rockers like Joan Jett or Pat Benetar fit perfectly into the alto range. Another great source of inspiration are the country legends. Classics like Patsy Cline or Dolly Parton and modern voices like Shania Twain or Carrie Underwood. Some of the greatest voices of rock and R&B are altos, so if you are up for a challenge, you can always sing from one of the legends like Adele, Beyonce, Stevie Nicks or Amy Winehouse.
Best karaoke songs for altos:
- I Hate Myself for Loving You – Joan Jett
- We belong – Pat Benetar
- Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood
- Consider Me Gone – Reba McEntire
- Hometown Glory – Adele
Karaoke for tenors
Tenors have a wealth of songs to choose from! Everyone from the great 70s folk singers, the 80s and 90s rock and metal voices, and today’s pop singers like the Weeknd, Ed Sheeran and Justin Timberlake will fit.
Decide whether you’d like to use the full voice for hard rock or heavy metal or the more tender, lighter sound. Tenors have something called a “break” or “passagio” in their voice where they need to switch from singing full voice to their lighter falsetto voice. Just sing through a song first to make sure it’s a good fit for you before you try it out on a crowd!
Best karaoke songs for tenors:
- September – Earth Wind and Fire
- Can’t Stop the Feeling – Justin Timberlake
- Let Her Go – Passenger
- Superstition – Stevie Wonder
- Faithfully – Journey
Karaoke for basses
Basses are a bit of an anomaly in the popular music world. However, there are a few of the true basses like country stars Johnny Cash or Randy Travis, and then there are singers that just sing in a comfortable male range, like Van Morrison, Neil Diamond, or Elton John or modern singers like the National, Iron and Wine, Nathanial Rateliff, or George Ezra.
Basses have a lot of resonance and depth to their voices, so it’s okay to choose a slower song and let people enjoy the tone and timbre of your voice instead of a showy song. Some bass songs can be kitschy (like “Friends in Low Places” or “
Best karaoke songs for basses:
- That’s My Story – Collin Raye
- Hurt – Johnny Cash
- Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond
- Coolin' Out – Nathanial Rateliff & The Night Sweats
- It’s Time – Imagine Dragons
Time to up your singing game?
You’ve found a great song, one that is not performed too often that might be chosen while you are waiting to sign up. You’ve practiced it a few times at home or in the car and got some encouragement from your spouse, kids or roommates. Now how do you up your game?
The best way to become a star at karaoke night is to work on your stage presence. Try singing the song in front of a mirror. If it’s a kitschy 80s rock ballad, can you add some humor and fun to the performance? If it’s a love song, can you show the emotion on your face? The audience at a karaoke night is supportive- they want you to do your best and they are not their to judge your singing voice and compare you to the original artist.
Karaoke is about enjoying the fun that is singing, so don’t hold yourself to a standard of perfection. Instead, try to sound “uniquely you” and have fun while you are doing it! If you're looking for more karaoke inspiration see our curated singlists.