Here's something maybe you didn't know about karaoke culture: It's considerably more involved and nuanced than most anyone outside of it knows.
For example, were you aware that, same as there are karaoke bars that aim to attract laughably bad singers, there are some that draw stunningly good, as well as some that try to land right in the middle of that scale, as well as some... times a thousand?
There are. So with this list, we've compiled a piece from each of the karaoke rainbow. There are nice places and trendy places and suburban places and gay places and more and more. Your favorite spot get left off? Leave it in the comments. And remember, it's "You're an idiot," not "Your an idiot."
6. The Usual
The Usual is a perfectly serviceable bar in The Heights. It is located on the outer fringe of the Washington Corridor, standing in enjoyable contrast to its neighbors' pomposity. There is a) no dress code; b) no cover and c) an emphasis on beers, specialty and otherwise.
I suppose someone might be able to argue that this is the one interchangeable addition to the list, but that doesn't mean it isn't deserving. Matter of fact, that might kind of be the reason that it belongs. It is perfectly bland and perfectly palatable. Just good people having good fun singing badly, as the karaoke gods intended.
5519 Allen, 281-501-1478, Web site
5. Mo's Place
Yes, let's everyone give a hand to Mo's Place, the only* suburban bar to rate on any Best Of list in the vast history of Best Of lists. Mo's, run by the hyper-affable Mo Jeloudar, a Persian man with a genuine appreciation (and understanding) of cowboy culture, is the ultimate in Katy nightlife, so it stands to reason that they'd dominate the karaoke market out there too.
Expect hearty crowds and tomfoolery on the microphone. You might luck your way into a proper performance, but you'll more likely find yourself among the masses, laughing and cringing and laughing again as an accountant stumbles through Prince's "Purple Rain."
*Probably not the "only," but you get the point. It doesn't happen a lot.
21940 Kingsland, 281-392-3499, Web site
4. Guava Lamp
Guava Lamp is an enjoyably well-dressed-but-not-uncomfortable lounge located off Allen Parkway. (They've been open since 1998, when they were in their Shepherd Plaza spot, but moved to where they are now in 2005.) It is the ideal pick for those looking for karaoke that isn't "Laugh Because It's So Bad" but also aren't interested in the "Goddamn It, Are All These People Professional Singers?" spots either.
Oh, I guess we should mention that it's generally a predominantly gay bar, but if that kind of thing is terribly important to you, why don't you just go ahead and drive your car into a wall?
570 Waugh, 713-524-3359, Web site
3. Smitty's Louisiana Sports Café
Where other places earned a spot on this list for their charming earnestness, Smitty's secured it's ranking properly. Pound for pound (or maybe voice box for voice box), there might not be a more capable collection of karaoke singers than the regulars at Smitty's Thursday night karaoke. It's a collection of classically trained, contest-winning, window-rattling badasses. Plus, given its Louisiana fare, it smells like the entire placed has been dipped in batter and deep fried, which is basically the best thing of all.
3333 Raleigh, Web site
2. Spotlight Karaoke
Spotlight Karaoke is a karaoke institution. It is tucked into the corner of a Westheimer strip center, surrounded by a rotating lineup of cafes, medical specialists and more. It's been there for more than 12 years, earning itself a sparkling reputation among those looking for karaoke madness. It's big (holds 250 people) and it's pretty enough (it's no upscale lounge, but it's certainly closer to that than a dive bar). Weekends are beyond packed and private rooms are booked well in advance, so act accordingly.
Note: There is a second location in Midtown (2700 Milam). It's not as excellent, but it gets the job done. That makes this one Khloe Kardashian, I suppose.
5901 Westheimer, 713-266-7768 Web site
1. Genji Japanese Restaurant & Karaoke
Here's why this place is the best: Because it is.
Genji offers all sorts of neat wrinkles to the traditional karaoke experience. For example, while most venues require you to get on stage, this one offers you the option of staying seated in your booth while you sing, which is considerably more enjoyable than you'd anticipate.
Additionally, your table receives multiple microphones, meaning you and your friends can butcher songs at the same time, meaning it just gets all kinds of silly, meaning FUCK YEAH, KARAOKE. Oh, also, their kitchen is fully operational for the entire time. That has to count for something.
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SHOW ME HOW
Private rooms available.
7964 Westheimer, 713-780-0827, No Web site