I love music, and on some occasions, I love singing along with it. Maybe it’s because I’ve never done much karaoke, or maybe it’s because singing is one way I relieve stress, but there’s something refreshing and satisfying about belting out a tune while driving down the road, preparing a meal, or cleaning the house. There are certain artists whom I have a natural affinity for singing along with, so I thought I would list them here (not necessarily in chronological order).
- Bonnie Raitt – This red-headed blues/rock singer is probably my very favorite singalong artist. It’s easy to hit all the notes, since her vocal range doesn’t go too high or low, and her songs are just fun to sing! Some of my favorites include “Something to Talk About,” “You Got It,” “Love Sneaking Up on You,” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” (“Don’t worry baby, aint’ nothin’ new, that’s just love sneakin’ up on you” is a song phrase that often gets stuck in my head.)
- Regina Spektor – This quirky, anti-folk artist is another of my favorites to accompany in song. Again, her vocal range is reasonable, and her voice is so smooth that it’s easy to blend in with her. Some of my favorites include “Fidelity,” “Samson,” and “Apres Moi.” Her latest album, Far, will be released tomorrow. No doubt it contains more fun tunes to sing along to.
- Mariah Carey – When I say Mariah Carey, I am referring to the pre-Butterfly and Glitter Mariah. I loved her music in the early ’90s, but haven’t been a fan of hers over the last decade. I used to spend hours listening to the trio of Mariah albums that I owned (on cassette tape!): Mariah Carey, Emotions, and MTV Unplugged. I also had a few songs from her Merry Christmas album, which I copied from a friend, using my fancy dual cassette stereo. Oh, the lengths we had to go to for our favorite music before the days of mp3s and ipods… Anyway, Mariah’s songs are probably the most challenging of my singalong favorites, because of her ridiculous five-octave range. I can sometimes build up enough gusto to hit those high notes, but I doubt they sound pretty! My favorite Mariah songs include “I Don’t Wanna Cry,” “Emotions,” “I’ll Be There,” and “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”
- Simon and Garfunkel – And so we move to the first of the male artists on this list. When I’m weary, feeling small, when tears are in my eyes… when I’m walking across a bridge over troubled water… that’s when I like to sing some mellow tunes from these Queens, NY boys. Actually, singing their songs puts me in a cheerful, nostalgic mood. I grew up listening to my parents’ Simon and Garfunkel records, and now I own three of their albums: Bridge Over Troubled Water, Concert in Central Park, and a greatest hits compilation. I absolutely love the folksy nature of many of their lyrics, as well as the simple, catchy melodies. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is a song that really brings out my inner diva, “Keep the Customer Satisfied” – which features a Chicago-style horn section – brings out my inner cheese (but it’s a great song!), and “Kodachrome/Maybellene” is just fun to sing because of its frantic pace.
- Sting – Oh, how I love Sting. And when I want to just chill out and sing along with some good, jazz-infused music, I turn on some Sting. Whether it’s the fast-paced “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You” or the beautiful, pastoral “Fields of Gold,” Sting is easy to listen to or sing along with.
- Aimee Mann – Aimee Mann has one of the most ordinary voices of any artist I listen to, in terms of her vocal styling, yet the sound of her voice is very distinctive. Perhaps it is this ordinary quality that makes it so fun to sing along with her. Unlike with an intimidating Mariah Carey song, singing along to one of Mann’s songs is like doing a duet with a friend. Most of my knowledge of her music is courtesy of the excellent Magnolia soundtrack, on which my favorites singalong songs are “Save Me” and “One.” I especially love the opening sequence of “One”: “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do. Two can be as bad as one. It’s the loneliest number since the number one.”
- Ben Folds – Ben Folds is the male equivalent of Regina Spektor: quirky, sometimes irreverent, and super fun to sing along to. However, his ordinary vocal style is more akin to Aimee Mann than to Spektor’s strange, inventive stylings. I’m picking up on some patterns of what makes an artist fun for me to sing along with. Whatever it is about Ben Folds, some of my favorite songs of his include the fast-paced “Zak and Sara,” the strangely upbeat “You to Thank,” and the fabulous “Trusted,” which is packed with interesting lyrics, my favorite section being: “The sun’s coming up / She’s pulled all the blankets over / Curled in a ball / Like she’s hiding from me and / That’s when I know / She’s gonna be pissed when she wakes up / For terrible things I did to her in her dreams.”
- The Backstreet Boys – In the late-90s boy band battle between N’Sync and Backstreet Boys, I landed, at least with one foot planted, on the side of the Backstreet Boys. The truth is, I was a bit of a closet fan, because in public I ridiculed the concept of a boy band, and thought it was ridiculous for grown men to prance around impressing pre-teen girls. However, when I heard “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely,” “The Call,” or “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” on the radio, I threw caution to the wind and switched into power ballad mode. Embarassing, I know, but it’s the truth! Who can forget these epic and technologically up to date lyrics from “The Call”: “Listen Baby I’m sorry, Just wanna tell you don’t worry, I will be late don’t stay up and wait for me. I’ll say again you’re dropping out my battery is low, so you know we’re goin to a place nearby. I gotta go.”
- Destiny’s Child – In the early 2000s I went through a pop/R&B phase that was mainly spurred by the contagious noise that was Destiny’s Child. The small town I grew up in didn’t play this kind of hip-hoppinin music, but the larger college town in Alabama I moved to did. And so I got in touch with my inner soul sistah, shouting out tunes like “Say My Name,” “Jumpin Jumpin,” and “Bootylicious” along with Beyonce (and those other two). My favorite opening line from a Destiny’s Child song, and one that still gets stuck in my head, is this one from “Jumpin’ Jumpin'”: “Ladies leave your man at home, the club is full of ballers and their pockets full grown. And all you fellas leave your girl with her friends, cause it’s eleven thirty and the club is jumpin’, jumpin’.”
- Kelly Clarkson – Like Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson has quite a set of lungs! And so, when I’m feeling particularly exhuberant, I enjoy singing along to such ambitious and loud tunes as “Miss Independent,” “Since U Been Gone,” and “Walk Away.” I wish her well with her latest album, All I Ever Wanted, and hope there are some more fun songs on it!
- “Top Ten All Time Pop Singalong Songs”– I came across this fun list, and definitely enjoy singing a few of the songs that made the cut, including “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Hey Jude,” and “I Love Rock n Roll.” What are your favorite songs or artists to sing along with?
I’ll leave you with a quintessential Backstreet Boys video for one of my favorite singalong songs, the overdramatic, sappy “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely”: