There are songs that are great to listen to, but then there are also songs that just BEG to be sung along to! Whether it’s in the privacy of your car or in the very public domain of a bar on karaoke night, some songs just HAVE to be sung! What follows is a list of my favorite “singable” songs! For some strange reason, this is one of my most-viewed blogs (69 all-time views as of May 9, 2019). No accounting for taste? Read on to see some new additions to the list (and check out the new look)!
Can you guess which song I’m singing here? Photo circa the mid 2000s, Ypsilanti, MI.
Without further ado, let’s go on with my list of the best “singable” songs from the 1980s!
1. Here I Go Again, Whitesnake
Tawny Kitaen was the undeniable star of this music video
This song’s video features auburn-haired beauty Tawny Kitaen lolling about on the hood of a car in a white dress, which for most male teenagers and sexually curious/flexible females of the time, was not that unpleasant of a thing to see! For a guy, David Coverdale had pretty good range, got into some very girly heights in this particular song, which makes it good for both men and women to sing. Also, maybe this song makes you think of the 2003 comedy film Old School…
2. It Must’ve Been Love, Roxette.
Marie Frederiksson and Per Gessle of Roxette
It Must Have Been Love was actually released in 1987, although the ironically named 1990 film Pretty Woman helped make it really popular. This song just feels really good to belt out, the singer has a really nice range that makes it a challenge to sing. And my husband says the singer is pretty hot, so there’s that, too! Her name is Marie Fredriksson, BTW…
3. Sweet Child of Mine, Guns ‘n Roses
Axl Rose and Erin Everly, whom was the subject of Sweet Child of Mine. Sadly, their relationship (which she reported was abusive) did not end on a sweet note…
I actually sang a bit of this song to a blue-eyed toddler a few years ago, specifically the line, “She’s got eyes…of the bluest skies…” In addition to that adorable blue-eyed girl, this song reminds me of a time in high school when I was trying to get a friend home in time for her curfew and I got a little mixed up on the Flint-area freeways. The line in the song, “Where do we go now?” was very fitting for that moment. Yes, I got my friend home, but I had to break the speed limit to do it! That time, I didn’t get caught (cough). #confessionsofaleadfoot
4. Careless Whisper, Wham
George Michael of Wham!
Everything. Just EVERYTHING about this song is about the singing. With lots of feeling. Don’t even attempt to sing this song otherwise. And now it’s a nice tribute to the late singer George Michael, who, imho, was one of the best male singers from the 1980s. I may love singing, but I’ll never be able to emulate what he does on the song Kissing a Fool, which is on his solo album Faith. Just amazing lounge singing, which proved that he was at the top of his game.
5. Eternal Flame, The Bangles
Susanna Hoffs, former lead singer of The Bangles. I think she still looks pretty hot now!
I went to high school with a girl who kind of looked like Susanna Hoffs. Another ’80s singer my husband proclaims to be “hot.” And this girl was a cheerleader. Now you’re probably going to start thinking about ’80s era Susanna Hoffs in a cheerleader outfit now, aren’t you? Should I leave the room? But I digress…great torch song. You want to be the person she’s singing about in this song. You know you do!
6. Foolish Beat, Debbie Gibson
Tiffany and Deborah Gibson in Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid.
I believe “Debbie” Gibson goes by the more adult “Deborah” now. When I was a teenager, Debbie Gibson and Tiffany were both kind of a big deal, because of their young ages when they had their hit songs. But I always had more respect for Ms. Gibson, because unlike Tiffany, she actually wrote her own songs. There is actually a horrible TV movie with both of these singers in it, it’s called Mega Python vs. Gatoroid. I’m not making that up. A bit of trivia, this song made Gibson the youngest female artist to write, produce, and perform a Billboard Hot 100 number-one single. And you probably know I totally lifted that from wikipedia, right?
Producing your own music is kind of impressive, Prince was well known for producing his own stuff throughout his career, but the “big” acts, such as The Beatles and Michael Jackson, to name a couple, are almost as well known for their producers (George Martin and Quincy Jones, respectively) as they were for being themselves. Martin was referred to as the “Fifth Beatle” because of how involved he was with the band when producing their songs. And Quincy Jones’ mad skills as a producer helped give Thriller the “sound” it needed to make Michael Jackson a megastar. And did you know Quincy Jones wrote the theme song for ‘Sanford and Son?” Of course you did!
7. Alone, Heart
Ann Wilson (left) and Nancy Wilson (right) were at the “heart” of the rock band Heart.
Very passionate song with great range. Ann Wilson is just such an amazing singer (she even sang at the Super Bowl recently), and this is another song you want to be about you. It’s that good!
8. Black Velvet, Alannah Myles
One-hit wonder Canadian singer Alannah Myles
Hey…if you have to have only one hit song, make it count! Black Velvet is a bluesy song about Elvis, but what really makes the song “pop” is Myles’…for a lack of a better description “f— me voice.” I’ve done this one karaoke a couple of times, and one time, a guy sitting at the bar absolutely LEERED at me as though I were singing it just for him (the guy was NOT my husband). Though it was kind of creepy, that also let me know that maybe I was nailing the song!
9. One Night In Bangkok, Murray Head
Murray Head in One Night in Bangkok. Did you know that the actor playing Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) on Buffy the Vampire slayer is his brother? Anthony is also an accomplished singer. Don’t quote me on this, but I think Anthony may have been an understudy in Chess, the musical in which One Night in Bangkok appears.
OK, maybe this isn’t actually a “singing” song as much as a “spoken word” song. The choruses require some real singing, but it really is mostly a spoken-word song. If I were an instructor in any kind of radio broadcasting class, I would REQUIRE students to be able to recite this song flawlessly. It requires a good deal of oral talents (get your minds out of the gutters, people)! I have asked my husband to play this song for me if I ever lapse into a coma. Him singing it incorrectly would surely rouse me from my comatose slumbers!
10. Rapture, Blondie
Deborah Harry in the video for Rapture, which was one of the first songs to feature a rap sequence.
If you’re going to sing Rapture, prepare yourself for a challenge – especially if you plan to sing it publicly! Why, do you ask? Because of the “rap” sequence, of course (and a brief French language sequence)! Even if you THINK you have the song nailed from previously having practiced it dozens of times in your car (not that I’ve done anything like that, ahem…), you might find that a few drinks will still handicap you a bit! I’m nothing if not a fan of irony, and there is nothing quite as ironic as a white girl attempting to rap on a karaoke mic!
11. Head Over Heels, Tears For Fears
Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith of Tears For Fears. I honestly don’t know which one is which. Did you know they recorded the original version of the song Mad World, which was featured prominently in the movie Donnie Darko? Tears For Fears’ version is much more…boppy than Gary Jules’ (I actually prefer Jules’ version, though I have to be in a certain “mood” to appreciate it).
Tears for Fears is one of those ’80s bands that you either love – or hate. There is no middle ground! I can’t say I love ALL of their work, but there’s just something about their track Head Over Heels that just…gets me. I just HAD to hear it on my way home from work today. And it’s a great song to sing along to – and if you’re a female singer, you get to ascend into some “girly” ranges (hey, it was the ’80s, it was OK for men to be able to sing, and the whole trend of sounding like a constipated 80 year old man as was prevalent with ’90s grunge bands had yet to rear its head). There’s just a…wistfulness about the song (yes I agree the song is a BIT overproduced, again, it was the ’80s) – with the keyboard-infused melodies throughout and singing that lends itself to some real passion.
Side note for extra credit? Listen to their song Woman in Chains sometime. THAT IS PURE BABY MAKING MUSIC. Something about… the tempo. Throw that one on sometime nestled in between the Hot Chocolate, Sade, Rufus, Barry White, Billy Ocean and nine inch nails tracks and just see what happens!
Go ahead… make fun of me for liking this song! It’s fair! But it takes me back to 1985…when I was just starting to figure out how to deal with being a “teenager.” And this song was a big part of my 1985 “soundtrack!” When nostalgia beckons, it can be hard to beat it down (best let it ride).
12. Eye In the Sky, The Alan Parsons Project
Alan Parsons was almost as well known for being a music producer as he was for his “progressive rock” group The Alan Parson’s Project (he worked on the Beatles’ Abbey Road album and on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album). I love BOTH Of these albums!
One of my enduring memories of Eye in the Sky is singing it on a karaoke night maybe about 15 years ago at Ann Arbor’s Colonial Lanes. After I did the song, a man randomly approached me after I was on the “mic” and just said gushingly, “I LOVE THIS SONG!”
This song speaks softly and carries a big stick in terms of the lyrics! It may sound “mellow,” but the underlying message is definitely NOT! The harmonies in this multi-track masterpiece (IMHO) are just…impeccable. But then, I’ve always been a sucker for great harmonies.
Here are some lyrics:
Don’t say words you’re gonna regret
Don’t let the fire rush to your head
I’ve heard the accusation before
And I ain’t gonna take any more
The sun in your Eyes
Made some of the lies worth believing
I would sing this song as a lullaby to a child if I had the chance! Now there’s a blog I’ve been thinking about…songs I would sing as lullabies to children! This one is a very “smooth operator” – very “croonable.”
I know there are other “singable” songs I could blather on about, but this is it for now!