Top Five Song Choices for Office Karaoke

There comes a time in one’s professional life where a standard happy hour will not be “spicy” enough. A coworker will suggest office karaoke. This will generally occur at a conference.

Office bonding (and all networking, really) is a balancing act of being professional and approachable, which is why everyone hates it. Karaoke adds another (louder) layer to the dynamic. I always opt in for office karaoke. People are intimidated by karaoke, and you can take this moment to shine extra bright.

I have three key pieces of advice in this situation. One, do not drink too much before attempting this: two drinks maximum and absolutely no shots. Next, aim for older songs because usually your supervisors are going to be older and you need to captivate the whole crowd. Plus, more people know oldies, so maybe the crowd will sing along and drown you out and no one will be able to hear you. (In my case this is preferable.) And thirdly, pretend you are Spike from Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. He always prefaces each song with “This is a cover,” and you should too because it will always get a laugh. Laughing is key to networking.

If you need inspiration, these are my top five workplace karaoke songs. In reverse order, because you always want to save the best for last.

5. Atlantic City, Bruce Springsteen (1982)

This is a a downer, but everyone loves Bruce, so is it really? I posit no, especially since his stint on Broadway has made Bruce even bossier. Some of his songs, like “Born in the USA,” are very difficult to sing, but this one is pretty straightforward.

This song covers unions, mafia violence, illegal activity, and gambling, which are all workplace topics. It then goes on to express hope that our society and economic precariousness can change. For the modern young person performing this at karaoke, I recommend interjecting “STUDENT LOANS” after you sing the “I got debts that no honest man can pay” lyric.

4. Independent Women Part 1, Destiny’s Child (2001)

I still don’t think of this one as an oldie but maybe I should? If you are working in a department heavily populated by women, this song is a killer. You can likely talk one of your coworkers into doing a duet with you, which will make being Beyoncé easier.

“Independent Women” is a certified banger and people will sing along with you. Especially when you are buying the shoes on your feet, the clothes you’re wearing, and the rock you are rocking. Your coworkers are absolutely going to love throwing their hands up at you.

3. Material Girl, Madonna (1985)

This song is ideal for the prop masters out there. It’s literally about stuff, which is what prop masters deal in. It would also be appropriate for anyone who works in supply chain, inventory, or acquisitions. In addition, I think this is a good song for anyone who works for money and requires money to live.

Basically, we are all material girls. It is catchy and easy to sing and everyone knows it. This one is a real crowd pleaser, if not very edgy.

2. I’ve Got My Mind Set on You, George Harrison (1987)

It is always my hope that the video will play behind you at the karaoke bar, because this one is wild. During the introduction, use your Spike Voice ™ to tell your audience that this is a cover, and also that it is a song about project management. This line will get you some laughs, because a song about project management is a ridiculous concept. Then really ham it up during the following lyrics:

“But it’s gonna take money
A whole lot of spending money
It’s gonna take plenty of money
To do it right, child

It’s gonna take time
A whole lot of precious time
It’s gonna take patience and time, um
To do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it
To do it right, child”

1. Beast Of Burden, The Rolling Stones (1978)

The key to this being enjoyable for your coworkers is going to be a classic case of misheard lyrics. You must sing this song as “I’ll never leave your pizza burning.” The actual lyrics, “never be your beast of burden,” sound a little too whiny-employee-ish.

Once you have the crowd loose and on your side, you have an option to really make them laugh during the part where Mick asks, “Am I rich enough?” Just stop singing, make an incredulous face, and say into the mic, “No! I work in theater!” or whatever you work in.

BONUS TRACK: Free Fallin’, Tom Petty (1989)

This one works for both office and regular karaoke. If you have recently had a project go way overbudget or spent all of your money on a new house, this is the song for you.

Before the intro, lean in the mic in a sultry fashion, “You can call me Tom Petty Cash, my budget is free fallin’!” and then let rip. A classic for those of of us who have recently lit all of our money on fire.

PropicalStormAllie is the daughter of two Boggle enthusiasts from upstate New York. She works as a prop master, loves golden retrievers, and strenuously objects to “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a karaoke song. No exceptions.

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash.

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