A karaoke lounge for aficionados, Karaoke Bleu takes the amateur medium very seriously. With large tables and stellar service, it’s a popular spot for groups—but not for the faint of heart. The sound system is strong, and there are no club-y diversions, just well-made drinks and a free-flowing snack mix. The angular neon sign and glass brick behind the stage provide a retro, stuck-in-time charm. (For those formerly deterred from coming here because Karaoke Bleu allowed indoor smoking, that’s no longer the case.) It might seem as if the regulars congregating at the small bar in the back are quietly judging you. Perhaps. But they’re probably just waiting around for their chance to warble another Frank Sinatra ditty.
The decor? Basic. The bar? Nonexistent. The song selection? Unbeatable. At this noraebang-style karaoke haven with locations in Downtown Los Angeles and Fountain Valley, singing occurs exclusively in private rooms available for hourly rentals, meaning you can perform the Spice Girls’ entire discography without any judgment from strangers. There’s a variety of room sizes, making Max an option for everything from a birthday bash to the wildest first date ever. For a bargain, come for the daily happy hour between 1 and 7 pm when prices are deeply slashed.
Arguably the most notorious karaoke dive in the city, Brass Monkey is located in the ground floor of a nondescript Koreatown office building. The ski lodge-styled room has one of the most comprehensive songbooks in L.A. It’s super small, cozy, and popular with all types. (Adam Levine has been spotted here belting out slow jams). If you wanna rock, submit your song selections early in the evening. On weekends, wait times routinely hit an hour—annoying, but at least you’ll have time to down some liquid courage before your name is called.
From about a block away, you can hear wannabe pop stars inside the Gaslite, Santa Monica’s divey karaoke gem that provides casual libations and a high-energy, lowbrow vibe. Anything goes at this dimly lit watering hole featuring a diverse-yet-welcoming clientele, ranging from aging hipsters to UCLA undergrads. The raucous, judgment-free atmosphere makes for a prime spot for potentially shy singers. That bar itself is open from 4 pm until 2 am daily, but karaoke doesn’t begin until 6 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and at 8 pm every other night.
Pharaoh Karaoke Lounge
While most L.A. karaoke bars are unapologetically dive-y, the full-service Pharaoh Karaoke Lounge in Koreatown is surprisingly sexy. The swanky lighting and interior design touches make Pharaoh feel more like a Vegas club than a truck stop diner. The abundance of the 37 private karaoke rooms, of course, comes at a cost with drink minimums and service changes at every turn. (Hey, we said it felt like Vegas!) The limited song selection also leaves something to be desired when compared to other area k-bars. However, Pharaoh is most definitely a stylish choice for crooners looking to reenact Lost in Translation.