The 50 Most Unusual Dueling Piano Songs of 2023

Dueling pianos involves a unique form of live musical entertainment where two piano players engage in a musical “duel” while taking audience requests and getting people involved. The piano players will often trade off playing songs, singalongs, and incorporate comedy and musical improv in their act. This high-energy show requires the pianists to have a vast repertoire across many genres to accommodate all sorts of song requests from the audience.

While dueling piano shows typically rely on standard popular songs that most people know, throwing in some more unusual song choices can liven up the show and make it more memorable. Unusual songs generally fall outside the overdone classics and get people’s attention because they are surprising, obscure, or unconventional picks for this format. For example, novelty songs, viral hits, one-hit wonders, and throwback pop songs can all inject humor and novelty into a dueling piano show.

Incorporating some unusual picks requires creativity from the pianists, but taking a chance on lesser known songs keeps the show fresh. The following sections will explore categories of unusual dueling piano songs, strategies for integrating them effectively, and the advantages they can provide in crafting an engaging and dynamic show.

Top 50 Unusual Dueling Piano Songs

Novelty/Meme Songs

  • Baby Shark – Repetitive kids’ song perfect for gestures and participation

  • The Chicken Dance – Silly dance along song that never fails

  • The Hokey Pokey – Classic group dance song to get everyone on their feet

  • Hamster Dance Song – Early internet meme song with quirky high-pitched samples

  • Crazy Frog – Annoying yet catchy Eurodance song with memorable music video

  • Cotton Eye Joe – High energy country line dance number

  • Y.M.C.A. – Cheesy disco era hit with fun hand motions

  • The Macarena – The ultimate 90s dance classic that packs floors

  • Gangnam Style – Viral K-pop song with silly horse riding dance

One-Hit Wonders

  • Who Let the Dogs Out – High energy dance song full of audience participation

  • Mambo No. 5 – Catchy Latin pop hit with listicle style lyrics

  • MMMBop – Hanson’s overly earnest 90s mega hit that everyone sings along to

  • Macarena – Los Del Rio’s quintessential 90s novelty dance mix

  • Numa Numa – Silly viral video propelled this Eurodance song to fame

  • Dragostea Din Tei – Unintelligible yet catchy Euro hit by Moldovan band O-Zone

  • Blue (Da Ba Dee) – Italo-dance earworm with repetitive nonsense chorus

  • Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice’s kitschy rap-rock smash hit

Throwback Pop

  • Barbie Girl – High pitch and silly lyrics perfect for enthusiastic singalongs

  • Macarena – No 90s night is complete without this dance classic

  • Cotton Eye Joe – Country line dance song that packs the floor

  • Walk Like an Egyptian – Quirky 80s hit with memorable dance

  • MMMBop – Hanson’s irresistibly catchy 90s megahit

  • Blue (Da Ba Dee) – Earworm Italo-dance hit with repetitive chorus

  • Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice’s forever cheesy rap rock song

  • Hit Me Baby One More Time – Britney’s debut pop hit evokes 90s nostalgia

Classic Rock/Power Ballads

  • Bohemian Rhapsody – Ambitious and challenging, hugely rewarding when performed well

  • Total Eclipse of the Heart – Soaring vocals and dramatic shifts in this epic power ballad

  • Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey’s quintessential arena rock anthem

  • Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi’s singalong hard rock classic

  • Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond’s warm, nostalgic stadium favorite

  • American Pie – Don McLean’s lengthy folk rock story song

Guilty Pleasures

  • MMMBop – It’s impossible not to sing along to Hanson’s uncool 90s smash

  • Kiss From a Rose – Seal’s eccentric soulful warbling makes this cheesy ballad fun

  • Livin’ La Vida Loca – Ricky Martin’s goofy yet catchy Latin crossover hit

  • Mambo No. 5 – Lou Bega’s absurd yet irresistible listicle style latin pop song

  • Never Gonna Give You Up – The ultimate ironic dance along 80s Rickroll song

  • Despacito – Hugely popular Latin crossover with a very repetitive chorus

  • Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen’s bubblegum oral history pop song

Hip Hop/Pop Crossovers

  • Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-a-Lot’s raunchy rap ode to butts always packs dance floors

  • Hey Ya! – Outkast’s irresistibly catchy, genre-bending mega hit transcends eras

  • Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars’ homogenized retro funk jam is always a crowd pleaser

  • Hot in Herre – Nelly’s unsubtle strip club anthem is bold and bracingly direct

  • Party in the U.S.A. – Miley’s bubblegum pop ode to culture shock is nostalgic fun

  • I Love It – Charli XCX and Icona Pop’s bratty punky new wave femme banger

Also Read: The 100 Best Dueling Piano Songs of 2023

Strategies For Incorporating Unusual Songs

The key to successfully integrating unusual song choices into a dueling piano show is balancing novelty with familiarity. Overdoing the obscure picks can lose a crowd, but a few curveballs keep things exciting. Here are some effective strategies:

  • Surprise the Audience – Throwing in an unexpected, unconventional song choice grabs attention. Save high-energy unusual songs for when the audience needs re-engaging.

  • Balance With Well-Known Songs – Anchor unusual picks between plenty of surefire hits the audience knows and loves. Spread them out to maintain flow.

  • Humor and Nostalgia – Leverage unexpected songs that are humorous, goofy, or nostalgic to get audiences laughing, singing enthusiastically, and bonding.

  • Take Requests – Use unfamiliar requests as opportunities to showcase skills. Briefly explaining context also engages audiences.

  • Use as Segues – Don’t linger too long on obscure songs. Use them as quick transitions between more recognizable hits.

  • Duelling and Medleys – Pair an unusual song with a popular one in a duet or medley for contrast. Trade off lines of each for humor.

  • Interactive Elements – Get the crowd involved in novelty songs with actions, dancing, or singing along. Makes them feel part of the performance.

  • Read the Room – Pay close attention to audience reactions and adjust song choices accordingly. Stick to familiar fare if unusual picks don’t land.

  • Promote Requests – If you have an unusual song list prepared, plant some requests in the audience ahead of time to ensure strong responses.

  • Reimagine Hits – Take a popular song and rework it in a fresh, unusual style. This keeps it familiar but with a twist.

The key is balance – sprinkle in the odd surprises, leverage crowd participation opportunities, and focus mainly on hits and variety. This engages audiences, showcases range, and keeps energy high all night.

Also Read: Top 50 Modern Dueling Piano Songs in 2023

Benefits of Unusual Songs

While there are risks with working lesser known songs into the dueling piano format, the potential benefits make it worth trying some creative choices:

  • Memorable Experience – Obscure song picks get people talking and make the show stand out long after. It becomes a unique shared experience.

  • Showcases Versatility – Playing offbeat songs demonstrates pianists’ diverse repertoire and technical abilities more than popular hits might.

  • Brings Humor and Levity – Novelty tracks lighten the mood. Getting the crowd to sing silly lyrics together bonds everyone through humor.

  • Participation and Engagement – Unusual picks pique interest and incentivize audience participation in singing, dancing, or reacting.

  • Provides Contrast – Mixing up tempos and styles with an oddball song makes the surrounding popular hits even more impactful.

  • Allows Experimentation – Testing out risky or creative song choices allows pianists to expand their repertoires and tailor it to different crowds.

  • Breaks Monotony – An unpredictable selection alleviates monotony for frequent dueling piano show patrons seeking something new.

  • Energizes Crowd – Obscure high-energy tracks can excite and re-engage the audience when attention is waning late in the night.

  • Encourages Requests – Patrons may be more eager to request fun curveball picks they wouldn’t expect to hear at a typical piano bar.

  • Humanizing – Showcasing personal musical tastes beyond top 40 songs makes pianists seem more relatable and authentic.

Taking some risks and incorporating lesser-known picks along with plenty of surefire favorites results in an engaging, dynamic show that caters to a wider range of tastes.


Incorporating unusual song picks into dueling piano performances requires creativity and balance, but ultimately results in a more dynamic and memorable show. While mainstream popular hits form the core of the repertoire, sprinkling in obscure, unconventional selections keeps audiences engaged and brings an element of surprise.

Categories like throwback novelty songs, viral hits, one-hit wonders, and guilty pleasure tracks give pianists opportunities to bring levity, showcase technical skills, and encourage crowd participation. Strategically balancing these curveballs with plenty of familiar songs catering to diverse tastes makes for a lively show.

Taking some risks with odd or unexpected picks makes the night more fun and memorable for both the pianists and the crowds. The obscure selections get people laughing, singing, and bonding over music they would never expect at a piano bar. Stepping outside the typical overdone classics demonstrates the performers’ versatility and willingness to experiment with fresh musical ideas.

While certainly not every unusual song will land, those that spark nostalgia, humor, and energy enhance the dueling piano experience. Pianists can continually refine and expand their repertoires by identifying which unconventional songs best engage specific audiences. With the right balance, surprises and variety create an unforgettable musical night out.

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