Seeing the best dueling pianos live is a great night out for any music lover. Most dueling piano songs are in the rock and country music genres. Generally, the performers are operating with the goal of encouraging audience participation, rather than directly battling one another. Here are the best piano bar songs to remember to request the next time you’re out on the town.
Even if it’s hard to find anyone among your friends who feels comfortable singing in public, nearly 60% of people sing in the shower. Among those who are willing to sing in the shower, even more, will be inspired to sing along when they hear the best piano bar songs being played in a crowd. When you’re headed out to see live music at a piano bar, you should have a few requests in mind that you know you and your friends will have fun singing.
Here are 30 of the best songs to request at a dueling piano bar.
1. Elton John – “Your Song”
Elton John is, along with Billy Joel, an absolute master of crafting great songs on the piano. There are about 10 different Elton John songs that would be perfect for any piano bar crowd, but there are few that can really make people feel something.
“Your Song” has the classic emotional humor that runs along the edges of the most painful pop songs. The entire bar will be belting out “I hope you don’t mind” over and over, with a smile on their face, regardless of how conflicted the narrator of the song really is.
One of his songs is also Tiny Dancer(1971), Rocket Man(1972) and Benny and the Jets(1973) which are also related to Bar Songs.
2. Biz Markie – “Just a Friend”
The Biz’s classic tune “Just a Friend” is a simple rhyme scheme rapped over a simple melody. This tweaks the balance of emotion and humor from Elton John’s songs and makes it a little bit funnier.
Biz Markie is one of the best rappers of all time and this 1989 interpolation of “You Got What I Need” helped to solidify his genius to a mainstream audience. People love to really give it their all for this one. You’ll be a piano bar hero for requesting this one.
3. Alicia Keys – “Empire State of Mind”
For the bold and brassy belters out in the crowd, the chorus of “in New Yo-o-o-o-o-ork” has become an iconic melody of the 21st century. Whether you live in New York, Florida, or Omaha, the aura of New York lives and breathes in this song.
Whether anyone in the crowd knows the Jay-Z portion of the tune, the bar will be on fire when the chorus hits for the final time. People will be shouting like their life depends on it.
4. Prince – “When Doves Cry”
While there are plenty of other Prince songs with a much more robust piano portion, “When Doves Cry” is still one of his biggest hits of all time. During those later hours when the night starts to turn sultry, Prince is the perfect accompaniment for two partners to sing to one another.
This off-kilter melody will be fun for the piano player as it should mix up the standard bits of show tunes and constant requests for “Sweet Caroline”. A little bit of Prince will spice up your night.
5. Grease ST – “You’re The One That I Want”
Probably one of the most memorable and fun songs from any musical in the 70s, “You’re the One That I Want” is iconic. Most people imagine John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John singing it in their classic 1950s costumes.
Grease songs are always upbeat and a great shot of energy into any piano bar. You’ll find every member of the crowd tapping their feet and singing along when you request this classic.
6. 4 Non-Blondes – “What’s Up?”
While there are some die-hard 4 Non-Blondes fans out there, most people don’t know much about their career beyond this one hit they had in the 1990s. It captures the vibe of the Generation X grunge era with a whole lot of attitude. Second only to the attitude is the melody, perfect for belting out after a drink or two.
Since the chorus is “Hey-ay-ay-ay, what’s going on?”, there’s little chance anyone will have trouble singing along. Even haring it once, the infectious melody will stick with you.
7. Journey – “Don’t Stop Believing”
“Don’t Stop Believing” is one of those songs that you either love or hate. It’s hard for most people to name any other Journey songs, but that doesn’t stop the band from selling out stadiums.
When the first few notes of this song play, watch for the energy in the room to start to boil. People will be on the edges of their seats, excited to sing along.
8. Michael Jackson – “Billie Jean”
Much like Prince or Elton John, Michael Jackson has plenty of tunes that would be fun to sing along to at a piano bar. Few people would know all the words like they would to Billie Jean.
This strangely dark tale of Michael Jackson being extorted for child support for a chile that wasn’t his has one of the best melodies of any MJ song.
People will be doing their favorite Michael Jackson moves in the aisles of the bar and singing their hearts out from start to finish during this song.
9. Roberta Flack – “Killing Me Softly”
Whether you’re thinking of the Fugees or the Roberta Flack version, this song has been in the cultural lexicon for nearly 50 years now. People from all over the world know this painful and beautiful pop song.
Whether partners will be singing this to one another or solo bar attendees will be singing it to a long-lost love, everyone in the bar is sure to sing along. While the song seems so sad, it’s actually one of the loveliest melodies of any great piano ballad.
10. Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody”
It takes a skillful and imaginative pianist to showcase the wonder of Bohemian Rhapsody, a classic rock tune that’s about as funky music and inventive as a progressive rock song can get. When talented musicians at piano bars bring this song to life for audiences, people love it and will request it as often as they can get it. Bohemian Rhapsody is included on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.
11. Neil Diamond – “Sweet Caroline”
If you’re a baseball fan, you’ve probably heard Sweet Caroline enthusiastically sung by fans at games, which will also give you some idea of its strong popularity at piano bars. Whether at baseball games or piano bars, audiences can’t resist singing out “dum, dum, dum” in the chorus of this soft rock song. In 2014, Sweet Caroline was digitally downloaded two million times.
12. Garth Brooks – “Friends in Low Places”
Friends in Low Places is a demanding song to sing since its melody requires a two-octave vocal range. Low notes and high notes are no obstacle for fans of piano bars, though, who consistently request the appealing country song in droves for heartfelt sing-alongs. Friends in Low Places won the 1991 Single of the Year award from both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.
13. Sir Mix-a-Lot – “Baby Got Back”
A comical and risqué rap song about female anatomy would seem an unlikely candidate to morph into a favorite at piano bars, but there’s simply no denying the popularity of Baby Got Back with audiences. This one’s a real crowd-pleaser when performed by a pianist with musical skill and showmanship. Baby Got Back is listed as number seventeen on VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs.
14. Bob Seger – “Old Time Rock and Roll”
There’s no doubt about it; you can’t beat Old Time Rock and Roll, whether it’s the song or the genre, and Bob Seger’s classic rock tune has become one of the most commonly made requests in piano bars. The song lends itself well to showmanship at the piano, and audiences couldn’t resist singing along even if they tried. Old Time Rock and Roll are included at number 639 on Rock n Roll America’s list of the Top 1000 Classic Rock Songs.
15. Meatloaf – “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”
“Paradise by the Dashboard Light” is a most notable song written by Jim Steinman which was first released in 1977 on the album Bat Out of Hell, with vocals by the American musician Meat Loaf alongside Ellen Foley. The song has its unique structure and length and has become a staple of classic rock radio.
16. Jimmy Buffet – “Margaritaville”
With its catchy tune and mellow lyrics about a fellow who is seriously indulging in an alcoholic drink, you can’t beat Margaritaville as a bar song, especially a piano bar song. It’s a country tune that audiences tend to know by heart, and it pops up on numerous lists of songs that people like to request. Margaritaville was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016.
17. Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Sweet Home Alabama”
A staple of the Southern rock genre, Sweet Home Alabama has found its way into piano bars across the nation and consistently ranks as a perennial audience favorite. With its infectious chorus, this song is irresistible as a piano bar sing-along, especially when sung at top volume. Ultimate Classic Rock puts Sweet Home Alabama in the number two spot on their Top Ten Southern Rock Songs list.
18. Van Morrison – “Brown Eyed Girl”
With its captivating melody, Brown Eyed Girl is a classic rock song you’ll want to request on your next trip to a piano bar. Performers who entertain at piano bars regularly cite the song as a favorite with their audiences, largely due to this tune’s croonable chorus with its liberal doses of “sha la la tee da.” In 2007, Brown Eyed Girl was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
19. The Beatles – “Twist and Shout”
Made famous by The Beatles, Twist and Shout is a singable and danceable classic rock song that’s such a consistent hit with audiences at piano bars that it was included in The Rollicking Piano Bar Songbook. Its rhythm is downright contagious, and the simple, catchy melody will make you want to twist and shout all night. The Beatles’ version of Twist and Shout reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964.
20. Three Dog Night – “Joy to the World”
Joy to the World is so singable that even Jeremiah the Bullfrog himself might enjoy croaking along with it at a piano bar. With its catchy tune and silly but lovable lyrics, this classic rock hit is guaranteed to make people sing. Joy to the World spent six weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971.
21. Billy Joel – “Piano Man”
“Piano Man” is based on Joel’s real-life experiences as a lounge musician in Los Angeles from 1972–73, which he had decided to pursue in an effort to escape his contracted New York-based record company at the time, Family Productions, Joel played under the name Bill Martin, which explains why the patrons in the song call him Bill. Martin is his middle name. Following the poor commercial performance of the album Cold Spring Harbor. Joel describes various characters, including a bartender named John and a “real-estate novelist” named Paul, all based on real-life individuals.
22. Def Leppard – “Pour Some Sugar on Me”
Piano purists might consider Pour Some Sugar on Me, a heavy metal song associated with squealing electric guitars, decidedly off-kilter as a song for tickling the ivories. “Pour Some Sugar on Me” is a song by the English rock band Def Leppard from their 1987 album Hysteria. Piano bar audiences, as well as the pianists themselves, would clearly disagree since the song is included on numerous lists of best piano bar songs. In Rolling Stone’s reader poll of the best hair metal songs of all time, Pour Some Sugar on Me sits proudly at number one.
23. Wilson Pickett – “Mustang Sally”
Rhythm and blues is another genre that works well at piano bars, as evidenced by the popularity of Mustang Sally, a well-loved song with a seductive, bluesy hook. The chorus, with its easy musical groove and lyrical repetition, is a great one for gathering around the piano and crooning all night. Mustang Sally made it to number 441 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
24. Bon Jovi – “Livin’ on a Prayer”
Back in the 1980s, Livin’ on a Prayer was one of the most successful songs of that decade, and its legacy continues. Today it’s still a hit in piano bars all across the country. Pianists report that audiences love to sing this iconic hard rock song, and people also love to see how its guitar-driven style will be reproduced on the piano keyboard. Livin’ on a Prayer hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1986 and is widely regarded as Bon Jovi’s signature song.
25. Eric Clapton – “Wonderful Tonight”
“Wonderful Tonight” is a ballad written by Eric Clapton. A fixture at proms and weddings, Eric Clapton wrote “Wonderful Tonight” in 1976 while waiting for his girlfriend (and future wife) Pattie to get ready for a night out at Paul McCartney’s annual Buddy Holly party. They were going to a Buddy Holly tribute that Paul McCartney put together, and Clapton was in the familiar position of waiting while she tried on clothes.
26. The Righteous Brothers – “Unchained Melody”
Unchained Melody is a 1955 song with music by Alex North and lyrics by Hy Zaret. The Righteous Brothers version was a huge hit, but it was recorded with far more modest expectations. Phil Spector considered it album filler and released it as a B-side. The single had “Unchained Melody,” with no producer credit on the label, as the flip to Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s “Hung on You,” but many DJs preferred “Unchained Melody” and played that one instead. This infuriated Spector, who subsequently left no doubt as to which side of a Phillies single was the A-side. According to the song’s publishing administrator, over 1,500 recordings of “Unchained Melody” have been made by more than 670 artists, in multiple languages
27. Hank Williams Jr. – “Family Tradition”
American country music artist Hank Williams Jr wrote a song titled “Family Tradition”. It was released in May 1979 as the fourth and final single and title track from his album of the same name. It has sold 909,000 digital copies as of April 2016. The song is a Williams’ statement of rebellion, not only in his lifestyle and living out the lyrics of his songs, but of his musical identity and direction.
28. Johnny Cash – “Ring of Fire”
Ring of Fire is uncommonly iconic. The song was recorded on March 25, 1963, and became one of the biggest hits of Cash’s career, staying at number one on the country chart for seven weeks. It was certified Gold on January 21, 2010, by the RIAA and has also sold over 1.2 million digital downloads. The 1963 country music hit became synonymous with the Man In Black for the rest of his career, topping the country chart for seven weeks and spawning myriad covers in Nashville and every other genre over the next 50 years. Saying it’s one of the greatest hits of Cash’s career is an understatement.
29. Outkast – “Hey Ya”
A song performed by the American hip-hop group Outkast and André 3000 was Hey Ya. Along with “The Way You Move”, recorded by Outkast’s other member Big Boi, “Hey Ya!” was released by LaFace Records as one of the two lead singles from the duo’s fifth album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. This was a huge crossover hit, getting lots of play on hip-hop, Top 40 and R&B radio stations. It went to #1 on the Hot 100 December 13, 2003, and stayed for nine weeks. In which, they made a double album, with each member contributing half on 2003.
30. Tina Turner – “Proud Mary”
A rock ’n’ roll song written by John Fogerty and first recorded by his band Creedence Clearwater Revival was “Proud Mary”. It is the Best of Ike & Tina Turner features some of Ike & Tina’s greatest hits from their formation in 1960 until their separation in 1976 that makes this song became a major hit in the United States, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1969, the first of five singles to peak at No. 2 for the group.
The Best Piano Bar Songs Get The Crowd Going
While you might want to show off your taste by requesting the best piano bar songs of the night, your goal should be to pick something you’ll have fun singing. Not every request will get chosen but if you choose a song that is fun enough to sing, the piano player will be sure to include it.
If you want to become a more dynamic singer, check out our guide for tips.
More Piano Bars Songs
|SONG||ARTIST||LISTEN / WATCH|
|Friends In Low Places||Garth Brooks||Listen / Watch|
|Pour Some Sugar On Me||Def Leppard||Listen / Watch|
|Jessie’s Girl||Rick Springfield||Listen / Watch|
|The Real Slim Shady||Eminem||Listen / Watch|
|I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll||Joan Jett||Listen / Watch|
|Mustang Sally||Wilson Pickett||Listen / Watch|
|Bye Bye Bye||NSYNC||Listen / Watch|
|Blister in the Sun||Violent Femmes||Listen / Watch|
|O.P.P.||Naughty by Nature||Listen / Watch|
|Born To Be Wild||Steppenwolf||Listen / Watch|
|Miami||Will Smith||Listen / Watch|
|One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer||George Thorogood||Listen / Watch|
|Joy To The World||Three Dog Night||Listen / Watch|
|Mr. Brightside||The Killers||Listen / Watch|
|Wagon Wheel||Old Crow Medicine Show||Listen / Watch|
|Are You Gonna Be My Girl||Jet||Listen / Watch|
|Sweet Home Alabama||Lynyrd Skynyrd||Listen / Watch|
|Pour Some Sugar on Me||Def Leppard||Listen / Watch|
|Brown Eyed Girl||Van Morrison||Listen / Watch|
|Escape||Rupert Holmes||Listen / Watch|
|Baby Got Back||Sir Mix-a-Lot||Listen / Watch|
|Don’t Stop Believin’||Journey||Listen / Watch|
|Benny and the Jets||Elton John||Listen / Watch|
|Welcome to the Jungle||Guns N Roses||Listen / Watch|
|Bohemian Rhapsody||Queen||Listen / Watch|
|Brick House||The Commodores||Listen / Watch|
|Bad, Bad Leroy Brown||Jim Croce||Listen / Watch|
|Margaritaville||Jimmy Buffett||Listen / Watch|
|Old Time Rock and Roll||Bob Seger||Listen / Watch|
|Piano Man||Billy Joel||Listen / Watch|
|With a Little Help From My Friends||Joe Cocker||Listen / Watch|
|American Pie||Don McLean||Listen / Watch|
|Great Balls of Fire||Jerry Lee Lewis||Listen / Watch|
|Fire and Rain||James Taylor||Listen / Watch|
|Devil Went Down to Georgia||Charlie Daniels||Listen / Watch|
|Sweet Caroline||Neil Diamond||Listen / Watch|
|Iris||Goo Goo Dolls||Listen / Watch|
|Everything||Lifehouse||Listen / Watch|
|Far Away||Nickelback||Listen / Watch|
|I Wanna Dance With Somebody||Whitney Houston||Listen / Watch|
|Let’s Dance||David Bowie||Listen / Watch|
|Wannabe||Spice Girls||Listen / Watch|
|No Scrubs||TLC||Listen / Watch|
|Started from the Bottom||Drake||Listen / Watch|
|Bulletproof||La Roux||Listen / Watch|
|Hollaback Girl||Gwen Stefani||Listen / Watch|
|Like a Virgin||Madonna||Listen / Watch|