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To the rest of the country, L.A. is a city of wannabe stars chorusing, “Look at me!” But outside of Hollywood, most of us only want to be onstage when we're bombed. Lucky for us, L.A.'s karaoke bars are as diverse and plenteous as its people. We saw, we sipped, we sang, and chose the city's 10 best.
10. Pattaya Bay Thai
Thailand's Pattaya Bay is one of the largest beach resorts in Asia, attracting over 4 million relaxation-seeking visitors each year. Los Feliz's Pattaya Bay restaurant is an underwater-themed noodle dive lit by a disco ball, attracting a nightly mix of the perpetually restless and deeply sloshed. While the greasy pad sew ew, crab-stuffed money bags and sweet boba tea have plenty to offer the casual tourist, regulars know the real attraction is the small stage beneath the lime-green walls. Here, the happiest drunkards this side of Hollywood gather to belt out their favorite tunes for a buck a pop, and well beyond the 2 a.m. closing time of the numerous bars nearby. It'd be a great opportunity to sober up if it wasn't for the secret booze menu, which after last call takes the form of Tsingtao in Styrofoam cups and coffee mugs full of sake. –Chris Martins
9. Rosen Music Studio
Koreatown's Brass Monkey is one of the city's better karaoke venues. The singers there usually know what they're doing, and they kill it. Every time. It's intimidating. How can you become one of them? Practice, practice, practice. But you don't want to be polishing your game in front of a crowd of strangers. You want a booth. And the best booths are at Rosen Music Studio. Walking in can feel like entering the tunnel in the Wonka factory. You'll be hit with a din of off-key Korean melodies and tambourines. But once you get into your own booth, you're free to expand your karaoke repertoire with total abandon. No waiting your turn. Just go for it. The TV screens can be a little distracting. Ballads tend to feature a lot of images of Korean people pining and weeping. Minor complaint. You can also push a buzzer to order food and alcohol. You can bring some trusted friends along, too. –Gene Maddus
8. Karaoke Bleu
In a town where there's Porn Star Karaoke, VIP karaoke rooms and even American Idol, it's nice to know you can bring your drunken singing back to basics — a place with whisky, two microphones and a sure round of applause. Karaoke Bleu in West L.A.'s Little Osaka neighborhood has been around nearly 20 years. It can throw off the newcomers with karaoke-nazi rules, parking limitations and, well, attitude. If they don't know you, there's going to be some hazing. And we're just talking about the fierce female servers, not to mention owner Ralph or gentleman-bartender Aki-san. There's a small stage and an array of video monitors, but the action is at the small bar in back, where locals such as Tokidoki clothing founder Simone Legno hold court. This is the kind of bar you just know. There's no website. If you put in some time, you'll find a place that's rare in L.A.: affordable (with “bottle-keep” service and $1 contemporary songs), warm and, well, real. –Dennis Romero
7. Dimples Showcase
Dimples Showcase claims to be America's first karaoke bar. The Burbank spot was named the Best Costumes-N-Karaoke bar in our 2009 “Best Of LA” issue because it takes you to a realm of karaoke you never knew existed. Props include Viking helmets, wigs, costume pieces, toy guitars and space-man boots. You get a photo and video of your performance, which also airs online so your friends and family can tune in. It seems like almost every night the house plays “My Humps” and firmly suggests that every woman in the house get on stage. There are always a few extraordinarily talented individuals who steal the show, but the majority of performers are not good — in fact, they're quite bad, which makes it all the more fun. –Diamond Bodine-Fischer
6. Ground Control at Jewel's Catch One
For the alternative lovers or those just looking for one of the most accepting karaoke atmospheres possible, there's nothing in the entire city that compares to Ground Control at Jewel's Catch One on Monday nights. Our 2011 “Best of LA Best Karaoke Night” winner is the David Lynch of karaoke nights. The songlist is easily the most obscure in L.A. and attendees often show up in themed costumes, sometimes to match the song they intend to perform, sometimes just because. Mash-ups are frequent, with a switch from one unexpected track to the next. Of course karaoke classics are available too, but why bother when you can get those anywhere? –Diamond Bodine-Fischer