A karaoke night in France is a true cultural experience. Not only is there not the same vibe (or judgment) as there is in the US, but it’s also a great way to get an education on the classic French songs that everybody knows. Plus, you get to see the ‘paroles’ as everyone sings along! If you’re up for an evening of caterwauling, these are the chansons you’re probably going to hear.
- “J’irai où tu iras” by Céline Dion and Jean-Jacques Goldman
- “La Tribu de Dana” by Manau
- “Vesoul” by Jacques Brel
- “Alexandrie, Alexandra” by Claude François
- “Je t’emmène au vent” by Louise Attaque
- “Les Lacs du Connemara” by Michel Sardou
- “Les Démons de minuit” by Images
- “Allumer le feu” by Johnny Hallyday
- “Les Copains d’abord” by Georges Brassens
- “Comme d’habitude” by Claude François
Don’t have Deezer? Click here to listen to the French karaoke songs playlist on Spotify.
1. “J’irai où tu iras” by Céline Dion and Jean-Jacques Goldman
Oh Céline. We all know her, and no one can deny her incredible voice. Her dance moves, however, do leave something to be desired (as you’ll see below if you didn’t already know). Well, as they say, personne n’est parfaite.
If you’ve never heard of her duet partner, Jean-Jacques Goldman, he’s a pretty big deal in France and I strongly recommend reading up on him. I’m planning to do a little article dedicated to this French music icon, but until I do, at least know that this French singer-songwriter is regularly voted France’s favorite Frenchie.
I highly recommend watching the video and enjoying the ’90s nostalgia first, then play it again while reading the lyrics here.
2. “La Tribu de Dana” by Manau
This late ’90s hit has a clear Celtic vibe, and any French person in their 30s knows it by heart. Along with hearing it at every karaoke night in France, you can also bank on hearing it at least once at any slightly rowdy bar, and people will probably dance and sing along with it. The band, Manau, had a few other hits on their album Panique Celtique, but “La Tribu de Dana” seems to be the favorite of les Français.
It’s also one of my personal préférés, thanks to an awesome high school French teacher who had the album and made us listen – it felt so good to already know this song when it randomly came on while out in France. Nothing makes you feel more like one of them than being able to sing along to the same song at the top of your lungs.
3. “Vesoul” by Jacques Brel
A great song but very hard to sing, “Vesoul” by Jacques Brel (un Belge) basically takes you on a tour of France, citing nearly every city very, very quickly. You’re sure to hear the name of at least one town you know, and you’re likely to find a Frenchie from Vesoul at the microphone.
Good luck trying to keep up – here are the lyrics.
4. “Alexandrie, Alexandra” by Claude François
A disco classic by an artist affectionately called “Clo Clo” by the French, “Alexandrie, Alexandra” can’t keep you from dancing. And from singing – maybe more like screaming – along with the “ha”s. This is 1970s France at its best. And the video sends you right back in time.
5. “Je t’emmène au vent” by Louise Attaque
Another late ’90s hit that every French person knows, “Je t’emmène au vent” by Louise Attaque can often be heard not only on karaoke nights, but also any other night in a bar in France. And everyone will sing along.
6. “Les Lacs du Connemara” by Michel Sardou
The repetition and accelerating beat of this 1981 classic make it a must for any French karaoke night. You could call it a sort of French Irish drinking song – the song is, in fact, about a region of Ireland. It may start slow, but by the end, the whole bar is always clapping, singing, and dancing along.
7. “Les Démons de minuit” by Images
If you’ve ever been out late at a bar in France, “Les Démons de minuit” should be no stranger to you. Whether it’s a karaoke night or not, whenever this late ’80s tube comes on, everyone sings along.
8. “Allumer le feu” by Johnny Hallyday
Often referred to as France’s Elvis, Johnny Hallyday is a French music icon whose career spanned a whopping four decades. Oui, quatre ! As you can imagine, he made tons of hits in his time, including songs like “Retiens la nuit” (1961), “La Musique que j’aime” (1973), “Quelque chose de Tennessee” (1985), but it’s this 1998 rocker that the French bar crowd seems to love the most.
9. “Les Copains d’abord” by Georges Brassens
There’s something so charming, witty, and yet easygoing about the chansons of Southern singer Georges Brassens. His unmistakable voice – and South-of-France accent – always take me back to my time in Montpellier (he’s from a small town nearby called Sète). While he has a whole slew of songs worthy of a listen, “Les Copain d’abord” is without a doubt his most popular, especially for a karaoke night.
10. “Comme d’habitude” by Claude François
In case you didn’t know, Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” is actually a cover of this French song. You definitely know the tune, so you’ll be able to hum along either way, but if you really want to impress our French friends, study up on the lyrics so you can sing at the next karaoke night.
And c’est tout ! That’s all for French karaoke, folks, but I hope this will help you have an idea of what to expect and can maybe even help you feel more at home among les Français.