DIY: Be a karaoke rockstar

To the uninitiated, karaoke can be a bit of an intimidating scene. As good as we sound singing in the shower, getting up and singing on a microphone in front of a group of strangers (or even friends) can be as appealing as being water-boarded. Thankfully, we’ve got some karaoke pros up on the fourth floor who are sharing some insider info to ease you past your fears and up on-stage. 

Start small

Look how fun this is!

Everything is easier surrounded by friends, and the same goes for karaoke. If the idea of singing in front of a packed bar makes you break out in hives, then go see a doctor. Afterwards, gather a couple of your most trusted amigos and rent out a private karaoke room.  There’s a multitude of such establishments in Toronto, which vary in size and price. The largest concentration can be found in Koreatown, but really, they’re everywhere. We rounded up some of our favourites in a past post. Once you’ve gotten into a karaoke groove, you can expand to entertaining strangers. It’s not as scary as you think, especially with a bit of liquid courage. 

Do what you know

As if you could ever forget this.

Listen, we’re all for experimentation. But just like you wouldn’t attempt to make a soufflé for the first time your boyfriend’s parents were coming over for dinner, you should also not try to sing a relatively unknown song at karaoke. Stick to the classics to start: “Don’t Stop Believing”, “You Oughta Know”, anything by the Spice Girls. Once you’ve gone enough times, you’ll generate a list of songs you’re comfortable singing. If you’re serious about karaoke, we recommend keeping a running list going to add to whenever you hear a particularly good song. 

Know your limits

This is not you. 

Knowing the lyrics is key, but we can not stress enough the importance of knowing your vocal range. Whitney Houston may be your jam, but let’s be real… you ain’t Whitney. Or Mariah. Or Celine. Heck, we wouldn’t even recommend Frank Ocean or Lauryn Hill. Nobody wants to hear you screeching into the microphone like a cat in heat. Keep it realistic and everyone will thank you. 

A little flair never hurt nobody

Work it. 

At the end of the day, some people are born with voices that sound like a choir of angels and some people are not. The majority of us fall into the latter category, so sometimes a little smoke and mirrors can be your best friend. You may be nervous, but you’ll have ten times more fun if you relax and actually enjoy yourself. Plus, you’re the centre of attention! What better time to show off your “Single Ladies” dance moves. You didn’t spend an entire weekend rehearsing that for nothing, did you?

Rave: Karaoke

We’re not going to lie, initially the idea of karaoke made
us cringe (and let’s be honest, a little terrified). Singing in front of an
audience not knowing what notes we can or cannot hit and without an
abundance of shots? No, thank you, not for us. All this changed when we
discovered the world of private karaoke rooms at a friend’s birthday, then
later while visiting Korea and Japan, where karaoke
bars are their answer to an after-party. So whether you’re braver than us and
it’s public karaoke you’re after, or you prefer less audience and
more mic time, we’ve rounded up the best places in the city to sing your heart

Public karaoke bars
Cadillac Lounge 1296 Queen St. W.
Complete with a full-size stage and smoke machines, we only
recently discovered that this bar (with one of the best patios in the city) offers
karaoke on Saturday nights.

The Gladstone 1214 Queen St. W.
Head on over to the Melody Bar at the Gladstone Hotel Friday and Saturday nights and hang out at what Now Magazine has
voted “Best Karaoke Bar” for eight years straight.  

Sneaky Dees 431 College St.
Sing away your case of the Mondays at Sneaky Dee’s Monday
night karaoke. With more than 15,000 songs to choose from, no cover and $3
drinks before 11 p.m., now the nachos
aren’t the only reason to head to this College Street favourite. 

TKO’sSports Pub 1600 Danforth Ave.

be fooled by the crowds of men watching hockey or UFC – the upstairs of this
Danforth sports bar doubles as a karaoke bar on Saturday nights. Bonus: great
wings, great burgers. We’re sold.

The smoke machine adds a little something extra at Cadillac Lounge.

Private karaoke rooms

XO Karaoke 693 Bloor St. W.
Thank you to one of our best friends who decided to host her
birthday at XO Karaoke a few years back and introduce us to this gem. Conveniently located beside Clinton’s in the heart of Korea Town, we say why not make a night of it, or hit it
up late night like they do in Korea and Japan. And if XO is too crowded, BMB Karaoke is just down the street!

Bar+ Karaoke & Lounge 360 Yonge St. 2nd floor (above Swiss Chalet) 
Another private karaoke bar intro’d to us via a birthday celebration, Bar+ has a huge selection of English, Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Thai music open to all who love to sing and dance. One of our favourite parts? We got to bring our own snacks in, as long as we bought drinks from their bar. Stuff your face, sing at the top of your lungs and get your drink on. Good times.

Izakaya  294 College
After enjoying our regular sushi dinner at this delicious
new Japanese restaurant at College and Spadina, we got to talking to the owner
who let us in on a secret: the back room of the restaurant turns into a private
karaoke room if booked for 20 people or more. Sushi and karaoke? You know where
to find us at our next birthday.

S Lounge 4901 Yonge St. 2nd floor
If you are willing to make the trek (we prefer adventure) to
Yonge and Sheppard then we strongly suggest you check out this snazzy karaoke
bar. With themed rooms and a menu clad with pub
favourites and Japanese food alike, this karaoke bar is in a league of its own. 

Just two of the rooms at S Lounge
So next time you’re looking for birthday, bachelorette, or just regular Saturday night plans, why not check out the karaoke scene in Toronto. After all, there’s never a dull moment when a little Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys or Journey singalong is involved. 

Rave: Love Lies Bleeding Karaoke Night

We think it’s time we confess to something. We are really into the ancient Japanese art of karaoke, so needless to say, we were pretty excited to be a part of an Elton John-themed karaoke night at the Gladstone last week.

Why Elton John? Well, Loves Lies Bleeding, a critically acclaimed ballet inspired by the life and music of Sir Elton John, premieres Tuesday, November 8 at the Sony Center. To get pumped up for the premiere, we threw an evening of Elton John karaoke. 

The night was a little bit cool and rainy, a perfect night to spend inside a warm room with a glass of wine. There were some great performances throughout the night, including a pretty spot-on version of Crocodile Rock by two gents (falsetto included), an energetic and pitch-perfect version of Don’t Go Breaking My Heart by @mattyaustin and his talented friend Shannon, and an A-for-effort version of Circle of Life by @bigail and her husband (yes, 100% cheesy). 

@laratobin and a small gang did their part up on stage, and @badalie and @debgee rocked out a groovy version of Bennie and The Jets, glasses included. 

Watch them perform it here: 

One of the most fun performances of the night came from the lead dancers from the ballet, Yukichi Hattori and Kelley McKinlay. They got up on stage to sing Honky Cat, and impressed the room with their ability to sing AND dance. See them perform here: 

By the end of the night the entire room was either up on their feet dancing or singing along to a great version of The Lion King’s ‘I Just Can`t Wait To Be King’ by none other than @shotbyphil and @badalie.

The top three performers of the night each won a pair of tickets each to attend the premiere of Love Lies Bleeding, and choosing between all the great performances was not easy. 

The only thing more fun than an evening of karaoke is a night spent enjoying this amazing ballet when it arrives in Toronto, so make sure to grab your tickets now. 

To get your tickets to see the Alberta Ballet perform Love Lies Bleeding at the Sony Centre (November 8 to12) click here