We’ve all seen it happen before, right? You’re three beers into karaoke night and some schlub thinks they’re being original and sing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” in any key but the right one. Damn. And you were just having a good night, too.
Now before y’all jump down our throats for trashing Journey’s most popular song, let us explain. We don’t hate “Don’t Stop Believin’” one darn bit. In fact, we very much enjoy this upbeat rock ballad. But we’ve been scarred by so many drunken karaoke singers butchering the poor single that we can’t help but groan every time another person tries to take a shot.
Are we being snobs about this? Of course not… OK, yes we are. But if you karaoke frequenters insist on singing a Journey song, may it please be something different than what everyone else has heard?
Here, we’ll even give you some suggestions:
“Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)”
Alright, let’s pretend the music video for this particular song doesn’t exist. Now that the poorly choreographed images and all around cheesiness is out of your mind, we can focus on what is truly important: the music. “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” has all the usual Journey tropes -- catchy instrumentation, a choppy chorus and plenty of moments to belt out notes like Steve Perry -- but it’s the energy that will really sell this song at karaoke nights.
While this tune is noticeably “slower” than other Journey songs, the tone of “Faithfully” makes it a perfect closing song to a restless karaoke night. Between the piano-heavy composition and the wavy “woh-oh-ho-woh” chorus, it’s impossible not to raise your drink and sway back and forth to this song. Folks who often impress the crowds at karaoke will get a chance to really show their stuff in this power ballad.
This song carries much of the same tone as “Faithfully,” but may even be more poignant in its delivery. Whereas “Faithfully” is more dependent on leaving an impact with some instrument break downs, “Open Arms” relies on its lyrics and strong melody to really bring the message home. Truthfully, we believe “Open Arms” to be one of Journey’s best songs, so that’s primarily why it’s on this list.
“Any Way You Want It”
We remember a time when this song saw heavy frequency in a State Farm commercial. It was too much. But enough time has passed now, right? Right. “Any Way You Want It” is classic rock at its finest. It’s punchy, upbeat and too catchy for its own good. It’s excitingly in-your-face and marked a turning point for Journey, allowing the band to gravitate towards an edgier approach to its sound in the ‘80s.
“I’ll Be Alright Without You”
With this track, we’re introduced to an even softer, pop-inspired Journey. Your friends at The Weekender can honestly say we’ve never seen somebody sing “I’ll Be Alright Without You” at karaoke nights. And there’s probably good reason for it. There are some large instrumental segments in the song, which gives the singer a lot of down time, especially at the end. But we see that as a challenge. Fill up those portions of the song with a dance, or perhaps a joyous round of shots.
“Wheel in the Sky”
Nothing wrong with a little ‘70s era Journey, and “Wheel in the Sky” is probably one of their most memorable tunes from that time. Perry’s distinct vocal style has to be replicated in order for this song to be as good as possible. All those vocal inflections need to be precise (or at the very least exaggerated). We also think “Wheel in the Sky” could be a great group singing session, especially those who can sing harmony.
“Wheel in the Sky” may be memorable, but we think “Lights” is the best ‘70s Journey song. Period. No question. Accept it. Plus, it’s the perfect for those late karaoke nights. There’s no better feeling than singing onstage and having a crowd join in on the fun. That’s where “Lights” comes in. It’s a slow, swaying tune with a simple chorus. Anyone and everyone could take part in this mellow rock ballad. Versatility is a good attribute to have in a karaoke song, and “Lights” is chock-full of it.