1. Hip hop karaoke
If your idea of good karaoke is a bottle of pinot and a maudlin Céline Dion ballad, this bass-heavy night is probably way too street for you. Hip hop karaoke, hosted weekly at The Social, is a deadly serious exhibition of talent. This is a night for the more experienced rapper: if everyone says ‘no’ when you bust out your flow, we suggest sitting back and enjoying the slick renditions of Biggie, Dre and Snoop. But a warning: don’t go overboard by freestyling your own rhymes – it’s not quite ‘8 Mile’. 5 Little Portland St, W1W 7JD.
2. The Birdcage
By day, and in fact most weeknights, this is a friendly boozer which attracts locals both born-and-bred and on the bandwagon. Visit the Birdcage on a Friday night, however, and you’ll step into a wall-to-wall mob of wannabe Glorias, Whitneys and Björns. To a usually boisterous reception, East End crooners become Elvis, blowdried Babs Windsors channel the Weather Girls, and bespectacled hipsters belt out Queen – it’s fabulous fun and the place is always packed, so get there early if you want to show off. 80 Columbia Rd, E2 7QB.
Yes, it is a thing. And what better place to find a heartbeat on a drab Wednesday night? You don’t have to be a transsexual, or even dress like one, to take to the stage at Escape – a charming old-school Soho gay bar – with host Lady Lloyd. The weekly karaoke nights are riotously fun, with mini cocktail shots sold at such bargain prices they’ll knock your wig off. 10a Brewer St, W1F 0SE.
Karaoke was once the epitome of uncool, but how times have changed. SoulBrew throws in a live five-piece band to back you through your favourite disco and soul. They’re no lightweights, either, having recorded with Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson. But don’t be intimidated, you’re not expected to be a funk veteran – that’s what the band are for. Get on down on the last Friday of the month at the Bedroom Bar in Shoreditch. 62-68 Rivington St, EC2A 3AY.
A clever pun, even if Cheryl and co got there first: Girls-A-Loud is a weekly lesbian karaoke night at Soho’s Candy Bar. Entrance is free and there’s a wide selection of tracks to embarrass yourself to. It does get lively – with drinks from £1.50, how could it not? – and the crowd is diverse in age, though unsurprisingly not in gender: the female-majority entrance policy sees to that. 4 Carlisle St, W1D 3BJ.
6. The Alibi
Situated on the hipster highway of Kingsland High Street is The Alibi: an underground bar adored by students from all corners of London. Every Monday around 10pm there’s a free karaoke sesh, which is heaving from the moment the first off-key note is hollered. The singing isn’t taken too seriously, and as an added bonus you get a free shot for stepping up. A fun night out that’s more about dancing and drinking then the quality of your vocal delivery. 91 Kingsland High St, E8 2PB.
Koreans are officially mad for what they call ‘noraebang’ (although the North’s state-sanctioned version is probably not much of a laugh). Many Korean restaurants in London have secret singalong facilities, and in this rather basic place it’s in the basement, although you wouldn’t know it if you just stopped in for a plate of something spicy and sizzling. The songbook has a few kitsch Western classics, but is mainly K-pop, which might pose a problem if you can’t read the hangul script. Although, face it: you and a billion other people know the chorus of at least one song from that country… 53 St Giles High St, WC2H 8LH.
8. Bunga Bunga
Over-18s only at this Battersea pizzeria and bar, which celebrates former Italian PM and twinkle-eyed septugenarian Silvio Berlusconi in all his dubious glory. The wonderfully tacky Eurovision-themed karaoke room has been famously patronized by Prince Harry, another public figure with a fondness for the finer things in life. The Eurovision Room can be hired for up to 150 people – nonsingers could pretend to be Wogan or Norton and provide a sarky commentary. 37 Battersea Bridge Rd, SW11 3BA.
You can’t call yourself a true Chelsea blueblood until you’ve been papped staggering out of this tiki paradise at three in the morning. If you prefer to do your partying away from the public gaze, hire the Southern Comfort No-Tell Motel Room for a private karaoke love-in with up to 25 friends (flush friends, mind – it’s £250 an hour). There’s a double bed to relax on (if it’s that sort of gathering) and drinks will be mixed by your own resident barman. Oh, and no pressure, but previous holders of the Mahiki mic have included Rihanna, Katy Perry and Kelly Rowland. 1 Dover St, W1S 4LD.
10. Lucky Voice at the 3 Monkeys
Britain’s biggest chain of karaoke venues has bars in Soho and Islington, and it’s just opened a dedicated private room in the basement of this Balham cocktail bar. Intimate and soundproof, the space is tricked out with instruments and dressing-up accessories to get you in the zone. 5 Fernlea Rd, SW12 9RT.