Fancy yourself the next American Idol? Maybe you should start by practicing in front of an audience that's a little more forgiving than Simon Cowell. These bars offer plenty of karaoke fun, so warm up those vocal cords and take to the stage.
Karaoke happens every Wednesday at Jedynka, where you can pick from thousands of songs in Polish and English. There's no cover, and you could even head home with more money than you came with: Jedynka gives away special prizes for the first singers on stage, and $100 in cash is given out to the winners at the end of the evening. The party starts at 9:30 p.m.
Moretti's (Edison Park)
Moretti's is more than a pizza place/sports bar/pub. It's a destination for fun. And every Wednesday the karaoke party starts at 10 p.m. Since there's no cover, pool your moolah and get a large pizza to split with your friends, who will no doubt encourage you to sing something relatively embarrassing.
This place is super-serious about its karaoke; after all, it offers it seven days a week. It's free, and on weekends, even if your vocals aren't "Idol" quality, you'll find a rousing crowd high-fiving and applauding your, ahem, talent. You can even pick your jam beforehand by downloading a list of songs from Sidekicks' website. Choose from thousands of songs, including tunes by The Andrews Sisters (bet those get a lot of play), Steely Dan and Bob Marley.
A 4 a.m. Boystown bar known for its affinity for line dancing, Charlie's hosts karaoke every Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday night at 8 p.m. with live country band Dirty Laundry backing up the magic.
As if the barrel-shaped entrance didn't tip you off, Friar Tuck's is all about fun, which is why it's no big surprise that the karaoke scene is particularly rowdy here. Get your sing on each Wednesday and Thursday night, starting around 9 p.m. Like baskets of good stuff from the popcorn machine, it's free (pitchers of beer are just $10).
Trader Todd's Adventure Bar
Want to sing every night? Trader Todd's has your karaoke (and tropical-drink) needs covered seven days a week from 8:30 p.m. until close. Call early to reserve a table, and if they're missing your song, you can email in requests. If you and (at least) 19 of your best friends want to host your own multi-round "American Idol," you can rent a private room, with bar packages starting at just $8 per person per hour.
Sing your heart out 'til 4 a.m. every day. The karaoke's free and it starts at 8 p.m. If your date isn't into the singing thing, not to worry. Catch the game (pretty much any game) on one of the many TVs in the place, including two big plasmas and two projection screens.
Rockit Bar & Grill (Wrigleyville)
Does the beginning of the weekend make you want to sing with glee? Head to the second-floor lounge here beginning on Fridays at 9 p.m. The free event features over 5,000 songs to choose from, and there's no down time, because music videos are played in between performances.
Feel like flexing those vocal chops after a long day in the office? Stop by the dive-o-riffic Mutiny for karaoke every Tuesday night from 5-8 p.m. Pair it with $1.50 pints of Old Style Light and make a night of it.
Blue Frog Bar & Grill
While not the largest bar by a long shot, Blue Frog is big on character. The kitschy venue pays homage to the 1980s, from its decor to the board games it offers. Try Connect Four, Battle of the Sexes and childhood favorites like Chutes and Ladders. Karaoke starts at 10 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. No cover. It can get pretty popular, so if you don't want to wait (and sweat) for a good hour, get there early.
There's no sign sporting the name at this dive bar, so you'll have to keep your eyes peeled. Karaoke starts up at 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. There's no cover, but the wait to sing varies each night so come early just in case. If you're lucky, sometimes karaoke will just spontaneously start up on a Sunday afternoon.
Billed as "the most fun you can have with your pants on," Hamburger Mary's offers MaryOke every Sunday and Wednesday night at 9 p.m. (Sundays feature the "Gong Show" version, so you'd better be on your game). If you need a little fuel to get you going, it (shockingly) serves nearly a dozen creative burgers, along with a hefty selection of salads, sandwiches and brunch food.
Christina's Place is your typical after-work dive bar. What makes it different? $2 pints of Guinness all day, every day...and free karaoke on Saturday nights. The singing starts around 10 or 11 p.m, but the bar is open 'til 4 a.m.
Piece offers the best of both worlds. On Thursdays regular computer karaoke starts around 10 p.m., but if you really want to rock the house, sign up for a song on Saturday nights at 11 p.m. with live-band karaoke. Three bands rotate–The Karaoke Dokies, Liquid Courage and Hootenanners–each with its own long list of songs from different eras and genres.
Whether you want to sing, play pool or darts, blast your favorite songs from the jukebox or just toss back a cold one, this is the neighborhood pub for you. Feed your karaoke craving every Tuesday through Sunday; the singing starts at 9 p.m. each night.
Too embarrassed to sing in front of a bunch of strangers? That excuse is no good here, thanks to the private karaoke rooms. Rates start at $5 per person per hour. Guests operate the karaoke machines themselves, so don't forget to ask how to use them. Note: Despite the name, the food's not a major selling point.
Monday and Wednesday are karaoke nights. There isn't a cover, and you can sing-sing-sing from 10 p.m. 'til 2 a.m.
Four Treys Tavern
This bar has been open so long it probably predates its song list. Four Treys is friendly to the max, and welcomes dogs (indoors!) along with your questionable singing prowess. On Saturday nights, crowds have a ball with karaoke and $7 Bud Light pitchers.
If you like karaoke and you like dancing and you like Chinatown, then you're three-quarters of the way to really liking Red-I. If you also like the color red, then you're about to be very happy. VIP rooms are available for private parties and singers who'd rather not share their talent just yet, and the change is made from karaoke to dance at 10 p.m. Entry is free during karaoke hours (expect to hear karaoke-friendly songs like "I Will Survive"); later on you might have to pony up $5.
This isn't your average karaoke night at some dive trying to get a few more bodies inside. Entirely devoted to those flashes of self-delusion wherein you imagine having the pipes of Celine Dion or the leather-clad cool of Joey Ramone, this place adds a twist to the experience: You can rent a private room for $25 an hour. Each room features couches, a plasma TV, gigantic remote controls and a selection of American, Korean and Chinese tunes. There's also a good menu of Korean food to get your energy up.