Be a karaoke superstar in Chicago

My list of the best Chicago bars for singing your heart out

February 28, 2013

 
Karaoke may have originated in Japan, but America has turned this strange little public display of lyric reading, microphone wielding and awesomely bad singing into a national rite of passage. In fact, a rollicking night out with friends is usually not given the title of "epic" until a 3 a.m. rendition of Billy Joel's Glass Houses is involved.
 

If American Idol has taught me anything, it's that we really like getting up on stage and losing our inhibitions through song--even if that means making complete fools out of ourselves. Karaoke is a way of life in urban music meccas like New York, Portland and Nashville, but Chicago has a great scene too.

Here are a few of my favorite places to sing like there's no tomorrow:

Lincoln Karaoke (Lincoln Square)

"Private Room" karaoke with comfy sofas, mini egg rolls and glow-in-the-dark tambourines. Need I say more? 

Chicago Blackhawk VFW Post 7975 (Noble Square)

Or as I like to call it, the good ol' VFDubs. Open until 4 am on Fridays and Saturdays, so you can sing "I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" and really mean it. 

Blue Frog's Local 22 (River North)

I rarely find myself in this area, but when I do, I'm usually the only one eating a veggie burger and singing "Burning Down the House" at Blue Frog

Shoes Pub (Lincoln Park)

Friday night karaoke at Shoes is always a good time. When you're not (ironically) belting Bon Jovi alongside trashed DePaulians, feel free to vandalize the walls with chalk or play darts while drinking some delicious craft beer. 

Alice's Lounge (Avondale)

Another 4 a.m. dive with a cheap drinks, friendly staff and a cozy setup for singing/dancing the night away. 

Mary's Attic (Andersonville)

This is my favorite gay bar for a reason. MaryOke! on top of Hamburger Mary's is the most fun I've ever had with Wii, Giant Jenga and drag queens combined. 

Piece Brewery and Pizzeria (Wicker Park)

Live band karaoke on Saturdays! And did I mention that they have the best thin-crust pizza in Chicago? Because they do

Trader Todd's (Lakeview)

Okay, this place is Bachelorette Party central. It's also amazing: kitschy tiki bar atmosphere, drinks with names like "The Naked Jamaican" and over 10,000 karaoke songs for you to croon on a stage that has Christmas lights all-year-round. Seriously, what's not to love?

Oh, and I have some favorite songs too:

"You May Be Right" - Billy Joel (Glass Houses forever)

"My Sharona" - The Knack (watch Reality Bites, then get back to me)

"Under Pressure" - Queen and David Bowie (NOT Vanilla Ice)

"Here Comes Your Man" - The Pixies (I sang this song in weird dive bars and honkeytonks way before Joseph Gordon Levitt in 500 Days of Summer made it cool again)

"22" - Taylor Swift (guilty)

Where are your favorite places to karoake in Chicago? What about go-to songs? Sound off in the comments below or let me know what I'm missing out on via Twitter @leahkpickett.