There are a lot of things to consider when trying to compile a list of the best R&B karaoke songs. The genre is so popular, the artists are so talented and the number of hits is so vast that it is hard to leave any song off the list. The first step in compiling a list is to choose some criteria.
A great karaoke song must be recognizable, capture the audience and be relatively easy for the average person to sing. But everyone has their favorites so even the best lists will leave some disappointed. With apologies in advance, here is one person’s opinion of the Top 15 R&B karaoke songs.
#15 Summertime – Ella Fitzgerald
You need to reach way back to remember this one and it may not even belong in the R&B category. The song was written as a lullaby sung by many in the African American communities of the 1940’s. But Ella Fitzgerald added a soulful, jazzy style that you can copy to make this song the perfect way to start a great karaoke evening.
#14 I Believe I Can Fly – R Kelly
A very popular ballad that tells the story of believing in oneself, and everyone wants to sing about fulfilling those big dreams. R Kelly easily slides up and down the scales but beware because this song has some tricky parts. You might want to practice this one in advance.
#13 California Girls – Katy Perry
This is a good way to pick up the pace and is one of the best party songs of the decade. This song is a better fit for females but with a few word changes, an adventurous male could get the room’s attention. Especially when he sings about “sex on the beach”.
#12 Grenade – Bruno Mars
Any song recorded by Bruno Mars belongs on this list. This one though gives you a chance to show off your vocals and you don’t need a group to complete your performance. If you want to tell your girl or guy that you are totally dedicated to him or her, then this is the perfect song to sing.
#11 Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours – Stevie Wonder
A Motown and Stevie favorite. This song spent six weeks at the top of the R&B chart in 1970 so its popularity is obvious. It is also one of those tunes that everyone loves to sing so you will have no trouble keeping the audience involved.
#10 Halo – Beyonce
Beyonce gives us classic R&B on Halo. If you pick this song, even your biggest fans are going to compare your performance to the original. To do this one justice, you need to do more than just sing the words. You need to deliver the message with some emotion in the style of Beyonce herself.
#9 Valerie – Amy Winehouse
A chart topper that was originally not one of the writer’s favorites. However, even he found it hard to deny Winehouse’s outstanding vocals. If you want to show off your soulful, jazzy self, perform her version. Otherwise, choose the more up-tempo cover by the Glee cast.
#8 Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson
This song is reflective, literally and figuratively. It works well for a guy but it can be performed as a solo or by a group. For the full effect, be sure to dance a little while you’re singing.
#7 Motownphilly – Boyz To Men
A Motown favorite that went to the top of the R&B chart and stayed popular especially with those in the Northeast part of the US. Groups sing this one even if there is no karaoke so if this is your choice of song, you won’t have any trouble finding some backup vocalists.
#6 Let’s Get It On – Marvin Gaye
Nothing pleases the crowd like this Marvin Gaye anthem. In between the verses there are a lot of adlibs that give you the chance to show off your knowledge of all the words or to insert whatever fits your own style. You only need to bring some soul to this one to get a roar from the crowd.
#5 Fallin’ – Alicia Keys
This may not seem to fit as a karaoke song because it is more like a ballad but with no uplifting message. It is simply a song in which Keys tells about her pain over a failed relationship. If you happen to be in a similar situation and are looking for a way to share, this song is perfect for you.
#4 Killing Me Softly – The Fugees
This song was written as a tribute to the vocalist Don Mclean and was made popular by Roberta Flack. It is great for karaoke because it fits all the criteria. The Fugees version is more suited for karaoke because it is a bit more up tempo and performed in a range that fits an average voice.
#3 I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
Okay so this one isn’t easy to sing but no Whitney Houston song fits that criterion. But there’s no way to keep Whitney off the list. If you’re looking for a ballad, accept the challenge and give this song a shot.
#2 Blame It on the Boogie – Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson deserves two songs on the list. This one is a great dance song but an even better song to sing. The melody is simple, the words are repeated, and the vocals are mid-range. Be ready to have lots of people joining in on this song.
#1 Respect – Aretha Franklin
How could you not want to sing a song by the Queen of Soul? This is the classic feel-good tune with a recognizable melody that will grab the audience’s attention. Everyone knows the words so can sing along and you can even enlist your group to help with the backup vocals. As long as you can spell, you can’t miss with this one.