Birthday parties, after-work hangs, solitary dark nights of the soul—they all have one thing in common: Karaoke can brighten up every one of these occasions. Lucky for you, NYC is an amateur singer's playground with a karaoke bar for everyone—whether you're the type who likes to belt out show tunes in one of the city's cramped, sweaty beer bars or croon the best ’80s songs in a private room full of your 15 closest friends. Check out our list of the best karaoke songs ever, rest those vocal cords, and get ready for your next star turn at one of the best karaoke bars in NYC.
RECOMMENDED: More of the best bars in NYC
Find a karaoke bar in NYC
This Japanese-style karaoke bar isn't named for the diminutive piano (you won’t find one here) but for its small size and proximity to Grand Street. There are no private rooms: The brave have to perform in front of everyone, but after a few drinks (beer, wine, sake, cocktails), it should be easy to get the nerve up.
Fans of live band karaoke, hip-hop and EDM, and other aspiring performers who want to take it to the next level: This is for you. Created by the brains behind Trillectro, a genre-blending music festival that aims to bring fans of those and more together, you can see how it feels to be Beyonce or Drake in front of screaming fans. Fifteen people are chosen to perform, but don’t worry if you’re not one of them--excited newcomers are picked from the crowd once they’re done, and singing along is pretty much mandatory. Various locations (trapkaraoke.com)
This beloved LES joint shines a spotlight on eager singers looking to rock out like Bowie or Aerosmith to tried-and-true rock staples--on stage instead of an on-screen singalong. Ridiculous antics like stripping and playing air guitar are encouraged at the venue’s world-famous Monday night sesh.
In addition to an active song-filled main bar, this West Village spot offers 17 private rooms in which to regale friends and acquaintances. The venue's website maintains a list of recently added songs—convenient if you want to make sure they've got the latest Kanye or T-Swift tune.
Usher in your 15 minutes of fame, honky-tonk style. Classics like Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” and Hank Williams’s “Hey Good Lookin’” rank among the 300-plus songs to choose from. Audience members can even request a three-part backup harmony if they are so inclined.
With its white leather banquettes and futuristic looking blue, purple and green neon decor, K-One is perfect for anyone who wants to feel like they’ve been transported to China for a night of singing. It’s also great if you only kinda know the lyrics to the song you’ve chosen: The artist’s voice comes in at a low volume halfway through, so you’ll feel like you’re doing a cool duet. The downside: It’s cash only, so come prepared with a stack of bills. The upside: If you buy 12 beers, you get a dozen free--great if your group of friends is thirsty. 97 Bowery St (212-925-1999, konektv.com)
Part of the thriving Karaoke Duet empire that consists of three private-room palaces in and around Koreatown, Duet 35 is the quintessential midtown karaoke hang. If you're looking for a place to get sloppy drunk with your coworkers while belting out Third Eye Blind, Alanis Morisette and other ’90s (and ’70s and ’80s) faves, this is the spot. Bonus points for the venue's bring-your-own-food policy.
The Kings of Karaoke (live band)
With over 10 years experience and regular appearances at Saint Vitus and Camp, those looking for a festive, rowdy singing experience will love the Kings, who boast a catalog of indie, metal and punk along with 80s and 90s hits. Dancing is encouraged, so you don’t have to get on the mic to have a good time...but we’ll be surprised if you aren’t encouraged to, since their enthusiasm is contagious. Various locations (thekingsofkaraoke.com)
Karaoke fans can head to either fo the two East Village locations of this sing-along bar (the other is at 81 Ave A), but our pick goes to the St. Marks location. Though Sing Sing offers private rooms, the best option here might be the public bar area, which for our money is the best place in the city to embarrass yourself while belting out ’80s classics in front of friendly, inebriated strangers.
To get the most out of this divey favorite, wear white: You’ll glow against the blacklight and the zebra couches. The neon bar and friendly bartenders will pour you a cocktail for as little as $8, and it’s great for those with stage fright: Wireless mics let you sing from wherever you’re sitting.
Don't let this karaoke-scene staple's unassuming exterior fool you. You enter the Greenwich Village den by descending a flight of stairs in a restaurant. Once inside, order a drink and receive a ticket for a free song; picks are only a buck after that. There's no real stage—patrons simply go to the front of the spacious room and rock out. Choose from the massive songbook, featuring a diverse array of genres including show tunes, Top 40 hits and new-wave classics. Those with stage fright can retreat with two or three friends into a private room in the back.
It may be modestly named, but 32 Karaoke boasts the "best karaoke in K-town" and—get this—the "biggest collection of songs in the world." We'll have to take the latter claim on faith, but we will say that if you're looking to get loud and silly with your pals in a lovably tacky private room (complete with spinning disco ball and disorienting geometric patterns on the wall), you've found your karaoke mecca.
This spacious restaurant-karaoke combo is perfect for those who feel like singing after getting their buzz on, and don’t want to head to K-Town for dinner. Wash down the bibimbap, pork belly and short ribs with a Tiger’s Whisker (tequila, agave, green salt, pineapple and citrus). While you’re waiting for a room, check to see if they have your go-to song by downloading the KJ Touch R app which lists tracks by name...then get psyched to belt out your favorites.