Sing-along Songs

Creating a Fun Atmosphere with Sing-along Songs

One of the most fun group participation activities for family and friends is to engage in sing-along songs. The essence of a sing-along song is that it has a simple enough melody and memorable lyrics for everyone to easily learn. Many of these popular songs have been around for over a century and are taught to children as part of their grade school music education. "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" is a very well known sing-along song. It was a traditional folk song written in the 1860s that became a huge hit in the early 1960s by The Highwaymen. The following sing-along songs are widely known and appreciated by all ages.

She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain

Not many songs over a century old are still as popular as "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain," which originated in the late nineteenth century by an unknown composer. The song uses metaphorical lyrics, although not everyone who sings these lyrics may be aware of the significance of the words. "She" is a metaphor for the chariot carrying Jesus upon his return. Hence the lyrics "she'll be drivin' 6 white horses." The song was originally based on a spiritual song called "When the Chariot Comes."

What A Wonderful World

The song "What A Wonderful World" was first popularized in 1967 by Louis Armstrong and in 1999 was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame. The optimistic children's song was written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss. It was written as a good-natured counterpoint to the violence and social divisions of that era. Even though the record was only a marginal hit in the United States, it topped the charts in the United Kingdom. The song's popularity grew over many years due to being covered by so many different artists, including Tony Bennett. Then in 1988 the song was re-released and was a hit all over again. In 2002 it was covered by Joey Ramone as a more upbeat pop/rock song.

Louis Armstrong enjoyed one of the longest recoding careers of any singer in history. He was born in 1901 and lived to be 69 in 1971. He rose to fame with his first big hit "Muskrat Ramble" in 1926. His first number one hit was "All of Me" in 1932. Armstrong went on to have over 70 hits including "Hello Dolly" in 1964 before reappearing on the charts in 1988. He was also a national radio host and film star.

Don't Worry, Be Happy

One of the biggest and more memorable hits of the 1980s was "Don't Worry, Be Happy," recorded by Bobby McFerrin. The song made history by being the first Acapella recording to ever hit number one in America. That's interesting because most casual sing-alongs throughout the world are sung with no instrumental backing. The lyrics were based on a saying by Indian mystic Meher Baba. In 1988 the song was featured in the movie Cocktail, which helped it hit number one that year. The song has become a worldwide anthem for optimism and has been recorded by many different artists and sung in various languages.

McFerrin told USA Weekend in an interview that he had seen a poster of Baba with the words "Don't Worry, Be Happy," which was what inspired him to write the upbeat lyrics. Even though McFerrin was the only voice heard on the recording, he recorded several different vocal parts that were mixed together. These tracks included lead vocals, falsetto and bass. McFerrin is widely regarded as a one-hit wonder, although prior to recording his one big hit he recorded the theme song for the television series The Cosby Show.