Music and bars have been inseparable for as long as anyone can remember. Whether it’s a jukebox, a live band, or a DJ spinning the tunes, music is an essential part of the bar experience. And when it comes to the songs that get the crowd going, there are a few that stand out from the rest.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at some of the best bar songs of all time, spanning different genres and eras, and examine what makes them so perfect for a night out on the town.
These are songs that are familiar, catchy, and upbeat, with lyrics that are easy to remember and choruses that are impossible to resist.
They might be classics that have stood the test of time or newer hits that are currently dominating the charts.
Whatever their origin, these songs all have one thing in common: they make for an unforgettable night at the bar. So without further ado, let’s dive into the best of the best!
What Are The Best Bar Songs?
Below is a list of the most iconic bar songs all broken down by category for you. So let’s warm up our vocals and get started!
Classic Bar Songs
1. “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond
“Sweet Caroline” is a beloved classic by Neil Diamond, which was released in 1969.
The song was composed and arranged by Diamond and Charles Calello, and was recorded in Memphis, Tennessee at the American Sound Studio.
The song was inspired by Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of former President John F. Kennedy. Neil Diamond was moved by a magazine cover photo of Caroline riding a horse with her parents and subsequently wrote the song in her honor. In 2007, Diamond performed the song at Caroline’s 50th birthday celebration.
“Sweet Caroline” became an instant sensation, and has since been adopted as an anthem by both the Boston Red Sox and the English football team.
With its memorable melody, captivating lyrics, and timeless feel, “Sweet Caroline” is sure to remain an all-time favorite for many years to come.
2. “Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey
Don’t Stop Believin’, a song by Journey, is one of the most beloved and classic rock anthems.
Released in 1981, it comes from the album Escape and was written by Steve Perry, Neal Schon, and Jonathan Cain. It’s a story about two strangers who meet on a train and share their dreams with each other.
The most iconic part of this song is the catchy keyboard riff, as well as its chorus that only appears at the very end. It’s a powerful and inspiring song that encourages people to never give up on their hopes and dreams, no matter how hard the journey may be.
This classic hit has been covered by many different artists, including the cast of Glee. Even after all these years, Don’t Stop Believin’ still resonates with listeners and continues to be an anthem for those who never give up.
3. “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi
Bon Jovi’s iconic classic rock anthem, ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’, was released in 1986. It tells the story of Tommy and Gina – two young lovers who are striving to make it in life, but are determined to never give up on their dreams. The chorus has an inspiring message, urging us to ‘hold on to what we’ve got’ and ‘give it a shot’.
The song was inspired by a friend of Jon Bon Jovi, who worked at a gas station and had a girlfriend named Gina. It was an instant hit, topping the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming an all-time classic of the 1980s.
This timeless song will always remind us to never give up on our dreams and to keep on fighting for what we believe in. It’s a powerful reminder to keep holding on, no matter what life throws our way.
4. “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard
‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ is a classic track by the British rock group Def Leppard.
It was released in 1987 as part of their album Hysteria, which had an immense production cost of $5 million. This was heavily influenced by the rap-rock mix of Aerosmith and Run-DMC’s rendition of ‘Walk This Way’.
The lyrics for this hit were created by randomly recording words and phrases on dictaphones and then rearranging them. As a result, it is now one of the best songs of the 80s and a signature song of the band.
5. “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison
The song features the Sweet Inspirations as backup singers and has a catchy chorus of “Sha la la la la la la la la la la te da”.
Van Morrison (from Northern Ireland) wrote and recorded the song in 1967 for Bang Records, a label owned by producer Bert Berns. The song is considered to be Morrison’s signature song and one of the best pop songs of all time.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Bar Songs
6. “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen
Are you looking for the perfect bar song to belt out with your crew?
Look no further than ‘Born to Run’ by Bruce Springsteen! This iconic rock n roll anthem is the perfect way to channel the spirit of freedom and daring that so many of us yearn for!
Originally released as the title track of Springsteen’s third album in 1975, ‘Born to Run’ took him from a regional act to a national sensation.
The song tells the story of a young couple who are determined to leave their dull life behind and hit the open road, a sentiment inspired by Springsteen’s own life growing up in New Jersey and exploring the Garden State Parkway.
Long after its release, ‘Born to Run’ continues to be a timeless classic. It captures the essence of the American Dream and speaks to the hearts of dreamers everywhere. With its iconic riffs and powerful lyrics, it’s no wonder ‘Born to Run’ is still a favorite among music lovers everywhere!
7. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses
Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ is a legendary rock n roll anthem that continues to capture the hearts of listeners everywhere.
Famous for Slash’s iconic guitar riffs and Axl Rose’s captivating vocals, this song from 1987 has become an all-time favorite.
The lyrics were inspired by Rose’s then-girlfriend Erin Everly and contain some of the most romantic words ever written in rock music.
At bars and concerts, ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ always gets the crowd energized with its celebration of love, passion, and nostalgia.
8. “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC
Released in 1980, AC/DC’s first single from the Back in Black album marked their triumphant return after the tragic passing of their original singer, Bon Scott.
Brian Johnson’s dynamic vocals, Angus Young’s electrifying guitar riffs, and an anthemic chorus make this track a timeless classic in rock history and a bar favorite.
The song has become an enduring anthem, inspiring listeners to belt out the chorus and join in the fun.
9. “Jump” by Van Halen
Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ was an instant hit when it was released as the lead single from their 1984 album in December 1983.
The song, powered by Eddie Van Halen’s iconic keyboard line and fiery guitar solo, was Van Halen’s most successful effort. Lyrics were penned by the band’s lead singer David Lee Roth, who was inspired by a TV news story about a jump suicide.
He clarified that the song is not about suicide but rather about taking risks and living life to the fullest.
Additionally, Roth gave a shoutout to martial artist Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez who had previously trained him.
10. “Rock and Roll All Nite” by Kiss
If you’re after an all-time classic bar song, you won’t want to miss ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’ by Kiss.
This hard rock anthem was released in 1975, as the A-side of their fifth single, accompanied by the album track ‘Getaway’. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons wrote the song, taking inspiration from Slade’s ‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’.
Featuring a catchy chorus, it also included the voices and clapping of Kiss’s road crew, plus Peter Criss’s wife Lydia. The song is an all-time classic and has become Kiss’s signature tune!
Country Bar Songs
11. “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks’ song “Friends in Low Places” made its debut in August 1990 as the first single off his No Fences album.
Songwriters Dewayne Blackwell and Earl Bud Lee wrote the song and presented it to Brooks as a demo.
It topped the Hot Country Songs chart for four weeks and won both the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association awards for 1990 Single of the Year.
The track tells the story of a man who shows up at his ex’s wedding and causes a stir. It’s a tale of friendship among those in less-than-favorable circumstances.
12. “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker
The song ‘Wagon Wheel’ has a long and interesting history.
Bob Dylan wrote the chorus and melody of the song in 1973 while recording a soundtrack album. Unfortunately, Dylan never finished the song, just leaving a demo that later leaked as a bootleg.
A quarter of a century later, Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show added verses to Dylan’s chorus and completed the song. The band released their version in 2004 and it quickly gained popularity among fans of Americana and bluegrass music.
The title of the song comes from the refrain ‘rock me mama like a wagon wheel’, which was borrowed from an old blues song by Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup.
Darius Rucker, the lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish, heard the song at his daughter’s high school talent show and decided to cover it. He asked the members of Lady A to sing backup vocals on his version, which gave it a more country-pop sound than the original.
13. “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” by George Strait
There’s no doubt why ‘All My Ex’s Live in Texas’ is a timeless favorite at country bars.
The combination of George Strait’s comforting vocals, the unforgettable chorus, and the amusing lyrics make it an instant hit. With its lighthearted words about love, location, and the Lone Star State, it’s the ideal song to get everyone up, singing and having a blast.
Since its release in 1987, this classic country tune has been a crowd-please in bars, and it’s no surprise that it still has people singing and dancing along today.
14. “The Dance” by Garth Brooks
The Dance is a song that takes listeners back to the old days of country bars and honky-tonks.
With its emotional lyrics and Garth Brooks’ powerful vocal delivery, it’s no surprise that this beautiful melody has been a hit at many a slow dance.
Not only is it a great song to sing together, but its words about love, heartbreak, and the beauty of life have been able to touch the hearts of many who have gone through the highs and lows of relationships.
It’s no wonder why this song has been regarded as one of the greatest country bar songs of all time; it brings people together and makes them sway and sing.
Pop Bar Songs
15. “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor
Since its release in 1978, ‘I Will Survive’ has been a disco sensation. Its pulsing bassline, Gloria Gaynor’s incredible vocals, and inspiring words make it a favorite across generations.
Its meaningful message of hope, courage, and resilience in the face of heartache makes it a personal anthem for anyone who’s gone through a difficult time.
It’s a reminder that no matter what, we can all move on and make it through.
16. “Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
‘Shallow’ is a song that has become a hit at bars and karaoke nights, and it’s easy to see why. Its melodic beauty, Lady Gaga’s incredible vocals, and its meaningful lyrics are an irresistible combination.
This song speaks to us in so many ways, connecting to our emotions on a personal level. It speaks of love, being open, and taking chances.
It’s an anthem of courage, igniting us to be brave and take risks.
17. “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” by Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling!’ was one of the most joyous songs of 2016. It was the hit song from the Trolls movie soundtrack.
Max Martin, Shellback and Timberlake wrote and produced the song together. These names should sound familiar to any pop music fan – they have written hits for the likes of Britney Spears, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift.
On May 6, 2016, ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling!’ was finally released, and it was an instant hit in many countries, including the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK.
Due to the success, it was no surprise that it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song!
Definition Of A Bar Song
A bar song is a genre of music that evokes an atmosphere of relaxed celebration and social camaraderie. It’s often associated with the idea of being in a tavern, pub, or saloon; where people gather around to drink, tell stories, hang out, and laugh together.
Commonly referred to as a ‘barroom ballad’, ‘honky tonk tune’, ‘drinking anthem’ or ‘tavern jam’, these songs capture the feeling of good times enjoyed by all.
Bar songs come in many forms – from upbeat instrumental numbers such as ragtime and jazz to classic rock hits. There are also country ditties and folk tunes which feature the pedal steel guitar and fiddle so familiar to those who frequent bars and honky-tonks.
In addition, there are unique blendings of genres like blues-rock, reggae-pop, hip hop-soul, punkabilly, and more – each giving its own flavor to any bar setting.
The common thread running through them all is the desire for fun, relaxation, and companionship that can be found within the walls of a friendly local bar or nightclub. As you make your way into one of these places, it won’t take long before you hear one of these jovial sounds – beckoning all to join in on their merriment!
Exploring the Stories Behind Iconic Bar Songs
The song “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks is a classic anthem of heartbreak and defiance. Set in a dive bar, the song’s narrator is freshly dumped and ready to take revenge on his former flame.
The song begins with a jaunty steel guitar, setting the tone of the story and setting the stage for the narrator’s wild night. Despite all the pain he’s feeling, he proclaims that his friends in the bar are his new family, and he’s ready to forget his troubles and get wild.
Another iconic bar song is “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker”. The story behind “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker sets the tone of the song, making it a modern bar favorite since its release in 2013.
Originally written by Bob Dylan and completed by Ketch Secor of the Old Crow Medicine Show, the lyrics follow a traveler’s journey south to see his lover, with all its ups and downs.
The power of storytelling through music connects us to the past and present, setting the tone of the story and creating an unforgettable atmosphere in a bar setting.
The best bar songs of all time are more than just a collection of tunes to get people dancing and singing along. They represent the spirit of fun, camaraderie, and connection that we seek when we gather together with friends and strangers alike. Whether it’s classic rock, country, pop, or any other genre, these songs have a special place in our hearts and memories.
From sing-along classics like “Sweet Caroline” to empowering anthems like “I Will Survive,” the songs on this list have stood the test of time and continue to bring people together in bars and parties around the world. These songs remind us that even in the darkest of times, there is always a reason to celebrate, let loose, and have a good time.
So, the next time you’re out at your favorite bar or club, take a moment to appreciate the music playing in the background. Who knows, the next song might just be one of the best bar songs of all time, and you’ll be glad you were there to experience it. Cheers to good times and great music!