Whether your crooning sounds like a croak or like it belongs in a choir, karaoke will help you let loose and unravel the confines of your public performance comfort zones. It’ll also ignite an 80s revival. So what if singing soaring chart-toppers à la Whitney doesn’t come easily when the mic hits your hand? Fear not, you’ll have that bouncing ball moving above lyrics guiding you on the screen, blaring recordings to cover the auditory blemishes, and the rest of the crowd on hand to serve as backup singers. Seriously, karaoke may be one of the best bonding experiences you can have with new and old friends alike. And you don’t have to hit the right note to make this brand of group fun invigorating – there is no wrong way to karaoke. Do your thing at any of these favorite BARTable karaoke joints. “Eye of the Tiger,” anyone? Rise up to the challenge and take your favorite song out of the shower and onto the stage.
177 Eddy St., San Francisco, a 3-minute walk from Powell Station.
First off, there’s a Hello Kitty room purring with pink. We could stop there, but we’ll add that a rustic Jack Daniels saloon-style room and plenty more attention to detail in 15 themed spaces for private-party reservations make Pandora a favorite. And then there’s the white leather-laden lounge. You can bet that the DJs and wireless microphones are kept busy at this karaoke must.
240 El Cerrito Plaza, El Cerrito, a 9-minute walk from El Cerrito Plaza Station.
Long live Mel-O-Dee, which has been around since the ‘60s. With so much in a name at this karaoke go-to, the veteran staple keeps the music alive and the adrenaline pumping in quiet El Cerrito Plaza. Weekends here brighten up with multi-colored lights and welcoming regulars who rock the mic and support newbies.
3218 Adeline St., Berkeley, a 4-minute walk from Ashby Station.
This dive bar is steps from Ashby Station and forgoes any attempt to serve up swanky and inventive cocktails but goes all out when it comes to karaoke seven nights a week. Expect a regular casual crowd that is as much a mixed bag as the song list; keep an ear out for karaoke contests, raffles and genre theme nights.
Jaguar Karaoke Oakland
4390 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, a 7-minute walk from MacArthur Station.
This is where red-walled private rooms give you space to perform without the eyes of strangers bearing down on you. Another big plus? It caters to multi-lingual singers with Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog and Mongolian lyrics amongst the selection. Pick a language, pick a songbook and let the international fun begin.
2925 16th St., San Francisco, a 1-minute walk from 16th St. Mission Station.
OK, this one boasts popular Thursdays right off 16th St. Mission Station, so its DJ Purple Dance Karaoke Night is big enough to get a spot on the list. The weekly convergence of karaoke goers under the guidance of DJ Purple has been in effect for a decade, making it an SF standard. These days its home is at Slate, where a full bar with, yes, those fancy city cocktails, fuel the parade of songs.