Dueling pianos make for an exciting concert experience, as two virtuosic piano players face off to try and outperform each other. Audiences go wild for the competitive spirit and singalong to popular hits and classics.
When crafting the perfect dueling piano setlist, the secret is choosing songs that will get the crowd pumped up and on their feet belting out the lyrics. This article explores the keys to selecting crowd-pleasing songs across genres and decades for an epic piano showdown.
Dueling pianos involves two piano players facing off and trying to outdo each other by playing songs that get the crowd excited and singing along. When choosing songs for a dueling piano show, there are a few key factors to consider:
What Makes a Good Dueling Piano Song?
You want songs that are catchy, popular, and that everyone knows the words to. These will get people singing along and having fun. For example, songs like “Sweet Caroline” and “Piano Man” are perfect because the choruses are easy to sing along to.
Songs where the chorus is easy to belt out in unison are perfect for dueling pianos. People want to participate! A great example is “Livin’ On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi, which has a chorus that is simple to memorize and fun to sing at high volume with a crowd.
Fast, lively songs keep the energy high. Slower ballads, while great songs, don’t work as well in this raucous atmosphere. For instance, AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” is perfect for dueling pianos with its driving rhythm compared to a slower song like “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton.
Variety of decades
Mix up oldies, 80s classics, 90s favorites, and recent chart-toppers to appeal to diverse crowds. Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” is a 70s classic, while Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” is a modern smash hit that keeps audiences excited.
Pop, rock, country – it’s all fair game! The more variety, the better. Songs like “Friends in Low Places” span generations with its country flair and singalong chorus.
Best Songs For Dueling Pianos
Here’s a list of some of the top crowd-pleasing songs that often feature in dueling piano shows:
1. Pop Songs
- Piano Man – Billy Joel’s signature tune allows pianists to showcase talent.
- Livin’ on a Prayer is an Epic 1980s Bon Jovi track with vocal range.
- Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond’s 1969 classic inspires community singalongs.
- Hey Jude – One of The Beatles’ most beloved songs for all ages.
- Bohemian Rhapsody – Captures Queen’s theatricality and piano skill.
2. Rock Songs
- Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey’s anthem allows dueling solos and group vocals.
- You Shook Me All Night Long – High energy AC/DC song with catchy beats.
- Sweet Home Alabama – Southern rock party song by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
|Don’t Stop Believin’
|You Shook Me All Night Long
3. Country Songs
- Friends in Low Places – Garth Brook’s 90s hit with a singalong chorus about friendship.
- Chicken Fried – Zac Brown Band’s ode to the simple things with foot stomping piano.
- Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy – Big & Rich’s 2004 smash mixes country and rock.
4. 80s Classics
- Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi’s power ballad climax inspires holding lighters high.
- Sweet Child O’ Mine – Slash’s iconic guitar riff opens this Guns N’ Roses staple.
- Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield’s 1981 chart topper brings out air guitars.
- Come On Eileen – Blue-collar punk track by Dexys Midnight Runners.
5. 90s Favorites
- Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana’s angst-ridden anthem-shaped alternative rock.
- Wonderwall – Oasis’ 1995 hit is a Britpop singalong with memorable piano.
- Torn – Natalie Imbruglia’s breakup ballad highlighted her vocal range.
- I Want It That Way – Backstreet Boys 1999 chart topper with soaring harmonies.
6. Recent Hits
- Someone Like You – Adele’s breakup ballad won Grammys with its vocal range.
- Rolling in the Deep – Adele’s fusion of retro R&B and pop powered by piano.
- Shake it Off – Taylor Swift’s self-empowerment anthem takes down haters.
- Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars’ funky mega hit always gets feet moving.
What Other Elements Make a Great Dueling Piano Show?
While song selection is critical, some other ingredients help make a dueling piano show truly memorable:
- Crowd interaction: The piano players joke around with the audience, take requests, and get people involved in the show by teaching dance moves or bringing participants on stage.
- Singalong lyrics: Having the words to popular songs projected on screens helps the crowd sing along without needing to know every word.
- Fun props: Things like funky wigs, tambourines, and inflatable guitars get everyone laughing and participating.
- Themed shows: Basing the song list around certain decades, genres, artists, or holidays helps shape the event around common interests.
- Costumes: When the piano players dress up in fun outfits matching the theme, it adds to the spectacle.
The combination of beloved piano tunes that range from classic singalongs to recent chart hits, high-energy performers who actively engage the crowd, and an audience eager to belt out the lyrics is what makes dueling pianos such a hit. With the right set list and flair for entertainment, the piano duel is sure to bring any crowd to its feet!