NYC Karaoke Clubs

If you're looking for a venue other than your shower to bust out your own vocal stylings, you're in good company. Otherwise-jaded New Yorkers are hooked on the goofy, addictive pleasure of karaoke. The K-word means "empty orchestra" in Japanese, and seems to delight both downtown hipsters (who dig the irony of kitsch) and uptown financiers (who need a good rebel yell at the end of a workday), and everybody in between who loves to flex the golden pipes—especially after a few drinks.

There are three ways of getting your lead-vocalist groove on: doing it for the whole bar at a karaoke night or specialty bar programmed for singing (usually about $1.50 per song); reserving a private room at a dedicated karaoke venue, where only your friends get the pleasure of your wondrous warbles; and bounding up onstage in front of a live band.

The hard-core karaoke places tend to be either grungy or glitzy, sometimes with more than a dozen available rooms for rent by the hour or night (each one includes a music machine, microphones, and bar service), along with tens of thousands of songs filling beat-up binders. Those catalogs include everything from "Sweet Caroline" and "I Will Survive" to pop hits by Adele, Garth Brooks, and Madonna—and, of course, many a Broadway show tune (this is New York, after all). A few top venues are the two downtown locations of Sing-Sing (9 St. Marks Pl. 212/387–7800 and 81 Ave. A 212/674–0700); Midtown's slick Pulse (135 W. 41st St., between Broadway and 6th Ave. 212/278–0090); and just about anywhere else in the unofficial Koreatown that sprawls around Herald Square, like Karaoke Duet 35 (53 W. 35th St., 2nd fl., between 5th and 6th Aves. 646/473–0826).

For live-band karaoke, head to the Lower East Side's hottest songfest: Monday-night rock 'n' roll karaoke at Arlene's Grocery (95 Stanton St. 212/995–1652).

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