Dueling Piano Bars 101: Popular Songs for Piano to Request

Fun Piano Songs If you haven’t heard of dueling piano bars yet, you will soon! As audiences demand a renaissance of live entertainment on large stages, this has also trickled down to bar scenes; the result is a rise in not just karaoke clubs and open mic nights, but also jazz clubs, indie band clubs, and piano bars of every kind. The “dueling pianos” style of entertainment in particular (which traces back as far as the 1890s in the form of speed battles with ragtime piano songs) has experienced a recent resurgence in popularity in most American cities.

What started with Pat O’Brien’s Bar in the 1930s in New Orleans, dueling piano bars are typically characterized by having two grand or baby grand pianos placed opposite each other, and two talented musicians performing and accepting audience requests for songs. Most dueling piano songs are in the rock and roll, country, classic rock, and contemporary rock music genres. Generally, the performers are operating with the goal of encouraging audience participation, rather than directly battling one another like a more organized talent competition.

Former or hobbyist piano players might want to take note of this kind of show’s rise in popularity; if you enjoy performing live, covering popular music, and improvising, this is a great time to brush up with a few lessons and pick up a new gig!

Whether you’d rather go to a dueling piano bar to play or to party, it’s a good move to get familiar with the most popular songs for piano. Here are 36 song ideas to request:

All-Time Favorites

Some of the most requested popular songs for piano

  • “Joy to the World” – Three Dog Night

  • “Rocket Man” – Elton John

  • “Barracuda” – Heart

  • “Carry On, Wayward Son” – Kansas

  • “Rock and Roll All Nite” – KISS

  • “Piano Man” – Billy Joel

Push the Envelope

Well-loved, complex tunes, to challenge your favorite performers

  • “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” – Charlie Daniels Band

  • “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen

  • “Layla” – Eric Clapton

  • “Sultans of Swing” – Dire Straits

  • “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)” – AC/DC

  • “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” – George Thorogood

Make it Modern

Contemporary pop tunes that the whole bar secretly wants to hear one more time

  • “That’s What You Get” – Paramore

  • “Firework” – Katy Perry

  • “Someone Like You” – Adele

  • “Crazy in Love” – Beyonce feat. Jay-Z

  • “Every Morning” – Sugar Ray

  • “The Way” – Fastball

Stage and Screen

Everyone loves hits from movies and musicals

  • “Singin’ in the Rain” – Gene Kelly (Singin’ in the Rain)

  • “Stayin’ Alive” – the Bee Gees (Saturday Night Fever)

  • “Hakuna Matata” – Nathan Lane and Co. (the Lion King)

  • “Summer Nights” – John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John (Grease)

  • “All That Jazz” – Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger (Chicago, film version)

  • “Footloose” – Kenny Loggins (Footloose)

Play That Funky Music

Take it back with jazz, funk, soul, and reggae

  • “Play That Funky Music, White Boy” – Wild Cherry

  • “Mack the Knife” – Louis Armstrong

  • “Superfreak” – Rick James

  • “Sophisticated Lady” – Duke Ellington

  • “Stand by Me” – Ben E. King

  • “No Woman, No Cry” – Bob Marley

Keepin’ it Classic

More rock and roll hits, to stay true to the traditions

  • “Old Time Rock & Roll” – Bob Seger

  • “Take it Easy” – the Eagles

  • “Sharp Dressed Man” – ZZ Top

  • “Born to Be Wild” – Steppenwolf

  • “Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor

  • “Great Balls of Fire” – Jerry Lee Lewis

Spending an evening at a dueling piano bar is a great way to get some sing-along therapy, make some new friends, and discover new music! Try searching the web or your music library for these recommendations to get more confident singing along with the crowd’s favorite hits. We hope you have a great time requesting these popular songs for piano the next time you go out!

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Photo by Jill Shih

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