Sorry Straights, These Karaoke Songs Belong to the Lesbians

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Last year, I found myself in New York for a week for work and realized that famed lesbian bar Ginger’s was hosting their bi-weekly karaoke night while I was there. Kismet! I went knowing no one and sang “You & I” by Lady Gaga (I do not have the chops for this). It was truly one of the most fun karaoke events I’ve ever been to, largely because it gave me so much inspiration for future karaokes.

I am always on the hunt for the perfect karaoke song: one that gets the crowd singing along, one that is more about showing emotion than showing off vocal range (or happens to sit really comfortably in what my voice can do, I am not a high-pitched gal!), and (preferably) one that I can make gay! Over the years, I’ve accrued a small list of songs that I think hold extra special power when a queer gal sings them, either because we bring a different swagger, different emotion, or frankly just a different vibe to the whole thing.

“Let Me Love You” – Mario

Okay so let me start by saying, I think that 90s/2000s R&B is a perfect genre for karaoke, and maybe that’s just because it’s what I’ve listened to most in my life. This song is great when Mario sings it, but also something about a man telling a woman how silly she is for letting another man ruin her life…pass! Unfortunately, though, it does encapsulate the feelings that a young queer might feel about their straight best friend whose straight boyfriend didn’t bother to acknowledge Valentine’s Day this year, or any number of similar experiences.

“Burn” – Usher

Another R&B classique, because look who else is holding on to relationships for too long in the way that we queers are? Who else “got somebody here but I want you” the way we do? I know it’s a stereotype but hey, those don’t get invented out of thin air.

“Teenage Dirtbag” – Wheatus

I mean, Mary Lambert has soundly proven that this song can be incredibly moving when sung by a woman. I just think…songs about a woman not noticing a man…fine! A lot of the pop music canon! But those same songs about a woman not noticing a queer woman? Transcendent! Art! And when the narrative of this story shifts so that Noel gets to ask out the narrator? Not gonna lie, I’ve choked myself up while singing this one.

“Jessie’s Girl” – Rick Springfield

Really really similar to “Teenage Dirtbag” just for theme reasons, but more fun and upbeat, plus the added twist of wanting to date a friend’s partner, echoing the tiny queer dating scene we all know and love.

“Pony” – Ginuwine

Come on. A lesbian singing “Pony”? This is a real commitment of a song, because the lyrics are DIRTY but if you have the confidence (and the optional dance moves, I’m imagining a lot of body rolls and crotch grabs) this is guaranteed to grab a crowd’s attention.

“I Could Go the Distance” – from Hercules

Okay okay, let’s shift the vibe. Maybe you’re at a musical theater themed karaoke, or more of a piano bar situation? Disney classics are a solid go-to, and this one, about a kid who feels different from everyone around him and is willing to leave the comfortable life he’s known to finally find where he really fits will really move the crowd, and maybe you!

“Love Story” – Taylor Swift

Let’s be real. One thing about lesbian karaoke songs is not wanting to change the pronouns! I don’t want to have to sing about men who have broken my heart when that’s literally never happened. Enter, Taylor Swift. I won’t digress into Gaylor theories here, but for our purposes of a karaoke song: so, so much of her music is genderless (addressed to “you”) or from a male perspective (see: “Betty”). “Love Story” is a great one because everyone knows it, and though it does have the one “he kneels to the ground” line at the end, in my head that line is spinning a queer fairytale to fit a narrative that we’re expected to follow. Think about it: if you’re singing this song heterosexually and it’s about a heterosexual man, why the need to explain exactly who will be the prince and who will be the princess?

If you have a favorite, especially gay karaoke song: drop it in the comments! Let’s help each other expand our repertoires.

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Analyssa is a co-host of the To L and Back podcast: Gen Q edition. She lives in LA, works at a TV studio, and can often be found binge-watching an ABC drama from 2008. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, or her social media of choice, Letterboxd.

Analyssa has written 58 articles for us.


  1. Both of my go-to karaoke songs absolutely fit in this theme !

    Man, I Feel Like a Woman by Shania Twain

    This is my go-to at straight karaoke spots because it is a lot of fun, high energy, and very well known (at least in Canada where I am!) but also it’s so sneakily queer.

    You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette

    Coincidentally, another Canadian favourite. But more emotional and angry. I usually sing this one at queer-specific karaoke, and let me tell you, it is a HUGE crowd please. Everyone sings (or more like screams) along, and it is very cathartic!

  2. Timely! My boss’s boss is having a karaoke party on Wednesday night, and I want to go (schmooze)/sing. My go-to song last few times was Son of a Preacherman but, NOPE. I’m leaning toward I Will Survive because I know it pretty well.

    My goal karaoke song right now, and I think it’s pretty queer, is I Believe in a Thing Called Love by The Darkness but I don’t quite have the nerve yet haha.

  3. Not Ready to Make Nice or Goodbye Earl by the Chicks have never failed me.

    Sweet Child of Mine is great if you want to do an upbeat love song. There’s she/her pronouns all over the place!

    Mine is also a great choice for fellow gaylor enthusiasts

    (hi I love karaoke a lot)

  4. Yuri G – PJ Harvey “I drew her down on me, I drew her with a smile”
    Best Friends Girlfriend – The Cars
    Different for Girls – Joe Jackson
    What do all the People know – the Monroes
    Everything I have is Yours – Julie London
    Girlfriend – Rebecca Black “I’m getting back with my Girlfriend!”
    Willow Smith – Ur A Stranger

    • I love “More Than a Woman” by the fabulous Bee Gees
      Amy’s “Valerie”
      “I’m Your Venus” by Shocking Blue
      ” I Saw Her Standing There” Beatles
      “(girl) You Teally Got Me” Kinks
      Patti Smiths “”Gloria”

      you’re welcome!

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