Tom Petty is an interesting case when it comes to singing karaoke. He’s not famous for being a great singer, he’s famous for writing great music. You could compare him in many ways to Bob Dylan, writes great music and can carry a decent tune but is a very mediocre vocalist.
So if you have a great singing voice, and you’re looking to impress, Tom Petty probably isn’t the best choice for you.
But if you love his music and just want to have fun on stage, then he’s got plenty of great classic songs to choose from.
So here’s a list of Tom Petty songs that will work great for your next karaoke night.
1. Free Fallin’
“Free Fallin'” definitely has to be Tom Petty’s most recognizable song. Most artist have something they sing about that comes up often, and for Petty that is some form of freedom. He sings a lot about living the life you want to live and feeling free.
So it’s no surprise that his most famous song is about just that. And it’s no surprise that this song also has that classic Tom Petty, laid back feel.
Keep in mind, if you want to pull of this song for karaoke, you’ll need to be comfortable singing in the tenor range.
2. Mary Jane’s Last Dance
“Mary Jane’s Last Dance” has long been my favorite Tom Petty song. So maybe it doesn’t deserve the #2 spot on my list, but hey, I’m making the list so I get to decide the order!
I love the half-spoken, half-sung vocal parts in the verses. It just matches that Tom Petty musical style so well and it’s also super fun to sing. And the chorus is super easy to sing. That also means that just about anyone can make this song work for karaoke. It may not be a song to impress, but it’s a great song and perfect to get the crowd involved.
3. I Won’t Back Down
There’s no denying that “I Won’t Back Down” is a great song, but something about it seems a little off to me. I think it might be that he’s saying “I won’t back down” and “I’ll stand my ground” but it sounds like he’s singing this song wearing sandals, sipping on some lemonade.
Either way, you can make this karaoke performance your own by adding in the grit and toughness into your vocals that the song seems ask for. Or you can just do a faithful recreation of the song.
4. Runnin’ Down A Dream
Nobody makes rock music sound more casual and laid back, and “Runnin’ Down A Dream” is a perfect example of a song with a killer rock riff that ends up feeling laid back behind Tom Petty’s vocals.
This is another in a long line of songs that fit the baritone vocal range. Although there are some oooh’s in the song that are more of a falsetto range, so you can either go for it, or just ignore that part while you’re singing karaoke.
5. Don’t Do Me Like That
“Don’t Do Me Like That” is one of the few Tom Petty songs where the piano and keyboard are highly featured. I think this is part of the reason this song comes off as more of a pop song that a rock song.
It’s also a pretty good song to dance to, and the vocals are simple, which basically makes it a perfect Tom Petty song for karaoke. Just get up on stage, sing the easy vocals and do a little dancing, done.
6. You Don’t Know How It Feels
“You Don’t Know How It Feels” is another wonderful Tom Petty song that sounds so slow and laid back, but has these almost angry lyrics. It’s amazing to me how they can pull of these songs with no hint of grit, but it just works.
If I were going to perform this song I’d be up there adding some emotion to “you don’t know how it feels to be me.” But hey, you do you.
This song almost sounds like it was written by the Eagles. It’s got that easy listening, slow rock kind of sound that the Eagles did so well. It’s another well known song, another song that mostly stays within the baritone range, and another song that just has that cool vibe that makes it a low risk karaoke song.
Another thing to consider is that this song is only 2 1/2 minutes long. So you won’t be performing for long.
And if you get really ambitious you could bring some friends on stage to sing backup vocals during the chorus.
8. You Wreck Me
This song is a tier lower in terms of popularity and recognizability. If there are classic rock lovers in the audience, then they’ll probably know this song, but if not then you may be singing to a room full of people who’ve never heard “You Wreck Me.”
Regardless, this is a Tom Petty rock song through and through, and it stays true to all the things that make his music unique.
Usually, Tom Petty is firmly in the classic rock genre, but sometimes, like in the case of “Wildflowers,” his music swings more into easy listening. This one reminds me a lot of a Cat Stevens song in it’s vibe and lyrics, but it ends up being one of Petty’s best songs about freedom.
So if you want a happy and free feeling (not free falling) song, then try this one out.
10. You Got Lucky
“You Got Lucky” is definitely the 80’s version of Tom Petty. With the familiar 80’s synthesizer sound that starts the song and carries on throughout the rest, it’s definitely got the feel of that decade of music.
Related List: Best 80’s Karaoke Songs For Women
This one would work well for baritone singers and like all of Tom Petty’s music, it’s got relatively simple vocal melodies and is thus an easy song to sing.
Remember when I said that you should probably look elsewhere for karaoke songs if you want a song that can really impress? Well “Refugee” is one of the few opportunities in Tom Petty’s discography to show off as a vocalist.
I would say that Petty’s original vocal performance is pretty ordinary, but the melody, range and space that has been created for the vocals in the verses are a wonderful opportunity to show off.
12. American Girl
In this song, Tom Petty is channeling his inner Bruce Springsteen. The music, pace and even the vocal melody is very reminiscent of much of Springsteen’s music.
As such, “American Girl” represents an opportunity to bring quite a bit of energy on stage. Also, there’s a groovy little bridge in the middle that might get your booty moving a little bit if you’ve had one too many drinks.
This song has a range that fits tenors better than baritones, so make sure it fits your range before performing it.