A piano in the bar is a good way to provide music for the bar. The piano player usually plays requests and sing-along songs as well as classics from among popular pianist choices such as Liberace, Roger Williams, and others.
People sit around the piano or stand around it if there is not enough room and request songs they'd like to hear played live by ear since most people would say "I don't read music". It can be very entertaining for those who know nothing about music theory but recognize titles of songs they recognize and enjoy playing them on the spot.
One can also tip the piano player based on how much enjoyment he or she has brought to patrons at their establishment.
How do piano bar songs sound like?
This is a more difficult question to answer since piano bar songs can be played in different keys and switched up with different tempos just like "regular" songs. It is also more difficult to describe the sound of a piano when compared to an electric or digital keyboard.
However, it is not difficult to hear what a piano in a bar sounds like when surrounded by people having fun listening and requesting songs they'd like to sing along with. People who enjoy going out for drinks and enjoy singing along will often find themselves at local bars that have piano players who know their way around chord progressions. In some cases, there are even dueling pianos where 2-4 artists take turns behind the ivories playing requests from the audience as well as improvising accompaniment to songs they know from memory.
List of typical piano bar songs
Here are some popular songs that can be found in a traditional style piano bar:
- " Unforgettable" Nat King Cole, often requested as a tribute to someone who had died recently.
- "Tears In Heaven" Eric Clapton, great for dedications to people who have lost loved ones or even pets since it is so sad and beautiful at the same time. It has been used on TV shows such as House MD when someone dies from cancer and an episode of Law and Order SVU where there was a death due to being raped.
- "Misty" by Errol Garner, another popular song that fits the idea of sad and beautiful. This song is so good it was used in the movie "Play Misty For Me". An interesting note about this gem is while playing it on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In he didn't get one laugh from the audience due to them not expecting an overtly serious tune out of a comedian which prompted him to exclaim "I made a mistake! This isn't funny!" causing the studio audience to erupt into laughter.
- "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?" Disney's Lion King soundtrack song sung by Elton John, another classic for dedications whether you're just in love or lost someone.
- "Circle of Life" from the Lion King, another Elton John classic for dedications about rebirth and new beginnings.
- "Memory" from Cats, another musical sung by Andrew Lloyd Webber to go along with his award-winning "Cats". Popular choices to sing along with this title include Judy Collins, Barbra Streisand, and Sarah Brightman.
- "Do You Want To Dance?" song written and made popular by Bobby Freeman and covered many times including a version done by The Beach Boys. Another favorite for singing though it should be noted that any rhythmic phrases should be modified since the original is in 4/4 time while most modern songs are in 3/4 or 6/8 so you'll want to adjust for this.
- " Take The A Train" Billy Strayhorn's song originating from Duke Ellington in 1941 and is the city's subway line train to Harlem in New York City. It is a great one if you have jazz piano players in your bar since it is one of the most recognizable tunes that is played by every professional pianist.
- "What Is This Thing Called Love?" Cole Porter, another classic song that will entertain patrons who don't have any idea what they're listening to but recognize titles from iconic songs from movies such as "Who's That Girl", "Cocktail", and "When Harry Met Sally". A good filler song while waiting for patrons' requests and singing along opportunities.
- "Fly Me to the Moon" by Frank Sinatra, a popular song made famous by the doo-wop group The Four Aces. This song is very romantic and often used on first dates to break the ice.
- "The Girl From Ipanema" Brazilian jazz tune written in 1962 about an older woman walking by while young men check her out, she was so beautiful they were mesmerized. An interesting note is this was one of the first songs recorded on an electric guitar.
- " Strangers In The Night" Frank Sinatra had his biggest charted hit with this one making it into no less than four decades, the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s! Another oldie that works well for dedications since everyone knows its title. It has been used in many notable films including "The Silence of the Lambs", "Casino", starring Robert DeNiro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci, "Mo' Money" with Damon Wayans and Stacey Dash, "Smokey and The Bandit" with Burt Reynolds, Jerry Reed, and Sally Field to name a few.
- "That's Amore" by Dean Martin is another tune that will work well for dedications about love since everyone knows this tune which was featured in the movie "The Caddy".
- "Blue Velvet" was made famous by Bobby Vinton but originally done by Tony Bennett which makes this also a good song for dedications about love, however, be prepared for someone telling you that the movie "Blue Velvet" was actually filmed in their hometown! Other versions of this include David Lynch's movie theme version and Jackie Wilson.
- "Moondance," Van Morrison wrote this while he was still in his band Them and recorded many times including with The Chieftains and featured in "St. Elmo's Fire". A good singing opportunity for patrons who don't know what they're listening to but recognize titles from iconic songs from movies such as "Ghost", "Pretty in Pink", and "Dirty Dancing".
- " The Lady In Red" Chris de Burgh, made famous by the 1986 version released featuring Lauren Evans on vocals. This is a great one if you're having a lot of couples in your bar since it has been used in many romantic scenes in movies such as The Wedding Singer, Two Weeks Notice starring Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock, 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler, and Drew Barrymore, Not Another Teen Movie starring Chyler Leigh, Chris Evans.
These are just a few of the many songs that you can play at your piano bar for singing and dancing opportunities. This list is by no means exhaustive but it does contain easy-to-find sheet music online and should give your patrons enough choices to keep them happy, singing along, and coming back regularly to visit with friends!