There are few things more freeing than a karaoke night with your girlfriends, and not just because it’s a BYOB free-for-all where the prosecco flows. Karaoke is the ultimate facilitator when it comes to uniting a group of potentially unlike individuals, or shouting your feels in the comfort of close friends and closed doors.* The only problem is trying to figure out what are some great songs to sing with your squad out of the pages and pages of standards.
But don’t worry, that’s what I’m here for! I’ve selected a slew of strong female vocals that make it into my usual rotation (you know, when I’m not just selecting any and every song by The Cure) that should fit neatly in the two to four hours you have your room reserved. What’s more than that is I picked out karaoke songs perfect for every situation, because we may be all in this together, but we’re all dealing with different lady problems.
So uncork the prosecco and let’s get this party started! These are the 31 essential karaoke tracks for you and your ladies.
1. Hole — "Celebrity Skin"
"Celebrity Skin" was my first karaoke song and, in select bars, the only entry from Courtney Love's band Hole. In hipper karaoke joints you can sometimes go full force with "Violet," but "Celebrity Skin" is a safe bet with a slightly less jagged rock edge. Hell, even your boring gal pals who plan to "turn it into one drink" because they need to "get up at 7 a.m. for work" can get into that riff.
Perfect For: Starting the night off on a strong note, breaking your wallflower friend out of her shell.
2. Stevie Nicks — "Edge Of Seventeen"
What's neat about "Edge of Seventeen" is that it'll absolutely divide a crowd between those who are witchy old souls and those who mistake it for "Bootylicious." What's also funny is that there are bunch of clusters of words that are indecipherable without subtitles karaoke screens graciously lay out for you. Realistically, everyone is still going to stumble into a lot of gibberish until you reach crucial parts like,"From the moment that I first laid EYES. ON. YOU."
Perfect For: When you exist as more of a coven than a squad.
3. Pat Benatar — "Love Is A Battlefield"
To be fair, I'm pretty sure most people can't name Pat Benatar tracks beyond this and "Heartbreaker" (which would also make for an epic solo song, I think). Who cares, though? Those are enough to solidify her as an '80s powerhouse, and breaking out into this anthem is sure to get the room fully energized.
Perfect For: When you are young, and no one can stop you.
4. The Spice Girls — "Wannabe"
Ah, yes, two decades later it's hard not to be wigged out by the creepiness of "you got to get with my friends," even though you're 97 percent sure the girl group wasn't vouching for polyamory. Whatever, it goes without saying that this jam from elementary school is an essential addition, especially when it comes to promoting solidarity within the karaoke room.
Perfect For: When you love the '90s! Or like, you love this one particular part of the '90s and all that stuff about grunge and riot grrrl is foreign to you.
5. Bikini Kill — "Rebel Girl"
Speaking of which, this ended up on Rock Band 2 a few years back, so I guess it's fair game now. Sincerely, though, "Rebel Girl" can make anyone rally, and all you need is a Kathleen Hanna approved high ponytail and bratty-cat voice to really nail it.
Perfect For: Being little too punk for karaoke and looking to make a STATEMENT. Also, they didn't have "Suck My Left One," so I guess this will do.
6. Katy Perry — "Firework"
Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? Like a plastic bag? Like... a plastic bag? Well, don't worry, fam, "Firework" is at the ready at any and all karaoke bars, even when you're feeling your most plastic bag.
Perfect For: When you need something catchy, contemporary, and uplifting... like a plastic bag.
7. Sheryl Crow — "All I Wanna Do"
Not every song needs to be a symphonic experience, and the sunny simplicity of "All I Wanna Do" is great if you need a break from that. "If It Makes You Happy" is also good if you're looking for a slower jam, but you know there's gonna be one girl in the group who'll put a little too much heart in "I'm not the kinda girl you take home," and nobody wants to deal with that.
Perfect For: When you're really not that much for theatrics and just want to keep this thing light.
8. Alanis Morrissette — "You Oughta Know"
This song is Rage Classic, the ultimate break-up anthem of the century. Do I recommend belting this out if you're at a shindig with your ex and his new squeeze? No, it's Leslie's birthday, don't be that guy. However, behind closed doors with your closest girlfriends, you definitely should let it all out.
Perfect For: Having a hysterical knee-jerk reaction to seeing some chick in your former lover's Instagram, being the girl who put a little too much heart in, "I'm not the kinda girl you take home" when the gang did "If It Makes You Happy" last turn.
9. ABBA — "Dancing Queen"
I don't think I should have to explain why you should be singing ABBA at karaoke, ABBA is as amazing as it is utterly embarrassing to love in earnest. Again, I'm post-punk as hell, so "accidentally" selecting "Dancing Queen" really is the only moment when I can show my affections for those lovely Swedes.
Perfect For: Being free, even if it's been a long-ass time since you were 17.
10. No Doubt — "Just A Girl"
The first three songs off Tragic Kingdom are all solid picks, but gun to your head, you have to go with this one. It's pop-rock girl power at it's absolute finest.
Perfect For: Reminiscing about the reality of being 17, and how your parents would flip if they knew that you were three tequila shots deep and out in Chinatown on a Tuesday.
11. Destiny's Child — "Independent Woman, Pt I"
Look, kicking the night off with some solo Beyoncé is a bit too expected, you'll get around to that eventually. For now, let's bask in this gem like you're listening to it fresh off Now That's What I Call Music 6.
Perfect For: Showing you have a sophisticated appreciation for old school Queen Bey... oh, and whoever those other two chicks were.
12. Nancy Sinatra — "These Boots Are Made For Walking"
It's a timeless often-covered standard with serious imprints of female empowerment. That's not why you're picking it, though. You and your pals just really have a lot of love for Sinatra, you know, beyond the immortal ode to ass-kicking footwear.
Perfect For: Showing you have the best vinyl collection in Brooklyn.
13. Taylor Swift — "Shake It Off"
This may not be as much of a savory karaoke pick after the whole Kanye phone call drama. If you're a hardcore Swiftie or someone who just doesn't give a damn about the personal lives of musicians, though, that should shake right off you. Let's be honest, on its own merits, this is a damn good karaoke song.
Perfect For: Showing you have never owned a vinyl in your entire life, yet are totally unashamed of that.
14. Republica — "Ready To Go"
"What song now?" Press play, bbs; you know this song. You love this song. This one-hit wonder is a auditory adrenaline injection, and you'll sure as hell be ready to go once that guitar kicks into full gear.
Perfect For: Getting everyone back in the game when energies start to decrease around the 2 a.m. mark.
15. The Runaways — "Cherry Bomb"
"Cherry Bomb" is the Troublemaking Jailbait national anthem that still holds a lot of potency long after you're able to legally drink. It's sexy and rough yet still recognizable enough thanks to that one Kristen Stewart/Dakota Fanning biopic.
Perfect For: Proving you're a spitfire who can't be stopped, even though you're still exhausted post-"Ready To Go."
16. Cyndi Lauper — "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"
Perfect For: Existing? While this song is over-predictable, it still has a lot of power all these years later. Alternately, you can do...
17. Cyndi Lauper — "Time After Time"
If this song could build bridges between April Ludgate and Ann Perkins, it could work miracles between your work wife and childhood best friend (who haaaaate each other).
Perfect For: Creating peace throughout Girl World.
18. The Go-Go's — "We Got The Beat"
Oh honey, literally anything by The Go-Go's is a great karaoke jam, they're the most successful all-female band in the world (and they take up two integral spots in my record collection). (I am the girl who sings Nancy Sinatra at karaoke.) This one might work best as a group because it feels especially inclusive. We all got the beat.
Perfect For: Fantasizing you're in a really great '80s teen rom-com.
19. The Cardigans — "Lovefool"
Sometimes "Girls Night Out" is just an elaborate distraction from being lovelorn. If such is the case, grab a couple of girlfriends for this super saccharine hit about unreciprocated feels.
Perfect For: "He won't text back, why won't he text back?!"
20. The Andrea True Connection — "More, More, More"
If you're looking for something sultry yet still playful, may I present to you the dreamy disco standard, "More, More, More."
Perfect For: When you are, actually, texting someone for a booty call between songs and wish that "Girls Night Out" could wrap up and your friend who sang "Lovefool" could stop sobbing on your shoulder.
21. Avril Lavigne — "What The Hell"
Much like ABBA, karaoke bars are one of the few bastions where you can unapologetic love the likes of Lavigne. So many incredible-but-humiliating tracks should be available on the list, from classics like "Complicated" to angst-filled pop-punk hits like "My Happy Ending." This one, however, is nothing but happy times.
Perfect For: When you are neither of the two previously mentioned girls and you just came out here to have some good old middle school brand fun.
22. M.I.A. — "Bad Girls"
The pacing may not make this the most conventional karaoke songs, but you, me, and my mother have sang this on many 'a car rides in the past. It can be done.
Perfect For: Rolling up into the karaoke bar like a bunch of BAMFs.
23. Kelly Clarkson — "Since U Been Gone"
It is physically impossible not to put yourself into "Since U Been Gone" fully once that chorus kicks in. And somehow, some way, it's a song that's always there when you need it to be.
Perfect For: When you're totally, completely over that loser you dated for three months... or almost over... at least for these three minutes and 11 seconds you will be.
24. Helen Reddy — "I Am Woman"
Because sometimes you end up at a karaoke bar with your mom and you don't want to isolate her, so digging up a classic feminist anthem seems like the way to go.
Perfect For: Trying to save an otherwise dignified track from the reputation of Sex and the City 2.
25. Beyoncé — "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)"
When you can't get everyone in the group to sing, this song is at least guaranteed to convert reluctant members of your crew into backup dancers.
Perfect For: "Honestly, I don't understand the vitriol towards Sex and the City 2!" That person, bless your heart.
26. Whitney Houston — "I Wanna Dance With Somebody"
It is practically law that at some point during the night "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" makes it's way into the room. Luckily you're surrounded by the people who you love most, so dancing is a given.
Perfect For: The part of the night where you're so sloppily drunk and ecstatic and obsessed with everyone around you, like an hour and 15 minutes before you start power vomiting in the Uber.
27. Blondie — "One Way Or Another"
Blondie is another band where plenty of songs would be karaoke-ready, but let's be honest, this is the one most parties are going to gravitate to, and that's A-OK to me.
Perfect For: When yours is the squad who systematically stalks out crushes so hard that you know the bartender's four previous ex-girlfriends and social security number even though you haven't said more than "gin and tonic, please" to him.
28. TLC — "No Scrubs"
If you've ever been catcalled before (i.e. you've ever owned a pair of breasts and have left the house unaccompanied for five or more minutes) then "No Scrubs" is permanently engraved in your soul, just waiting to escape out of your mouth.
Perfect For: When the group of guys in the room next to you want you to join in on "Total Eclipse of the Heart," and they can fuck right off.
29. Meredith Brooks — "Bitch"
Whatever happened to Brooks, is she good, and has anyone checked up on her recently? Anyway, whatever, "Bitch" sums all the delightful contradictions of womanhood, and no matter how many times you can scream the lyrics at dude, they won't get it. Your girlfriends will, though.
Perfect For: Embracing your inner bitch and running with her, mid-'90s style.
30. The Bangles — "Walk Like An Egyptian"
You don't have to be an Egyptologist to love this slightly archaic track, you just have to love how it stops, goes, and swirls all over the place. Bonus points if you do that neat, hands praying, eyes side-eyeing pose at the "Walk Like an Egyptian" part.
Perfect For: When you have solid plans to catch a few episodes of Gilmore Girls when this is all over.
31. 4 Non Blondes — "What's Up"
There's like a cool, slightly irritating element to this endless song that you can only appreciate when you're so many drinks deep. I say, lean into it while you can.
Perfect For: When you are so gone, man, you are so gone, you are 15 minutes from throwing up in the bathroom, but it's fine.