The 80s isn’t just about a retro style that popularized candy-colored tops, funky wigs, flared jeans, and Boogie Wonderland kind of music. Significantly, the 80s was the forerunner of people’s appreciation of piano music through piano bar performances. Songs played in piano bars became a hit during the 80s and are still enjoyed to this day.
Before I give you the list of the all-time favorite 80s piano bar songs, let me discuss the details about what a piano bar is.
A piano bar is a stage set that must have the following elements: a professional pianist, a piano or keyboard, audiences, and must be situated in a restaurant, cruise ship, or hotel lounge. At the present time, the term “piano bar” is no longer that common, but it has the same concept of what is known as a piano lounge or music lounge. The audiences gather in a piano bar to listen to piano music, to sing-a-long, to drink a few cocktails, and to socialize. There are seven kinds of piano bar performances. They are the instrument only, only the musician sings, the musician and waiters sing, sing-a-long, dueling piano, open-mic or a combination.
Instrument only means that the pianist plays instrumental songs all through the night. This type of piano bar is commonly observed in fine-dining restaurants and hotel lobbies. Only the musician sings means there are no back-up singers included in the performance. This is entirely a solo piano bar performance by the pianist and the audience can request songs for the pianist to play. The musician and waiters sing means that the entertainment extends from the employees up to the musician. The pianist stays on stage while the waiters roam every table to serenade their guests.
In sing-a-long, the piano bar becomes a social venue for singing because everyone in the room is encouraged to sing-a-long. In dueling pianos, two pianists battle each other but with humor and competing to showcase their talents. The audiences are encouraged to join the pianist in singing on stage in an open-mic piano bar. And lastly, combination means two to three kinds of piano bar performances are offered during one night.
Expect real fun, good music, good people, and professional musicians in piano bar performances. The songs performed in piano bars are vast in variety, depending on the occasion, function, and feel of the audiences. My all-time favorite 80s piano bar songs that people still recall today are Duran Duran’s Planet Earth, Piano Man by Billy Joel, New York, New York by Frank Sinatra, Both Sides Now and If You Could Read My Mind by Viola Wills.