Mercury Staff

The Alibi 

Billed as "Portland's original Tiki bar," the Alibi is like the adult version of the Rainforest Café, with lush tropical flora, fountains, and potent cocktails with names like "Miami Vice" and "Shark Attack." The back of the bar is where the magic happens, but beware—this is one of the busiest karaoke joints I've ever attended, even on weeknights. (If you don't get there early to stake out seats, you'll be forced to hover awkwardly, annoying everyone around you.) The last time I went to the Alibi, I watched two women duet Khia's "My Neck My Back (Lick It)"—one of the boldest songs you can sing to a room of strangers—while I chose to struggle through "When It's Over" by Sugar Ray. (The crowd was not impressed. I can't say I blame them.) Beware: If you're too drunk, the neon laser lights will distract you and you will trail off mid-song—or maybe not, but that’s what happened to me. CIARA DOLAN Daily, 4024 N Interstate


Chopsticks 

The legacy of Chopsticks is permanently sewn into the pleather fabric of Portland’s history (according to legend, Elliott Smith even sang at the original). With the recent shuttering of Chopsticks III still weighing heavily on the hearts of local karaoke lovers, it’s high time to appreciate the last remaining member of the How Can Be family. Chopsticks is open every single day, there’s no cover, and its location on Northeast Sandy makes it the perfect place to land after catching a show at the Tonic Lounge. The songbook is vast and reliable for classics, the greasy Chinese fast food is ideal for soaking up all those cheap drinks, the motley crew in the audience is almost always supportive, and on multiple occasions I’ve witnessed complete strangers storm the dance floor to join singers. CD Daily, 3390 NE Sandy


Baby Ketten Karaoke 

Behold, the crown jewel of Portland karaoke! Baby Ketten is known for its seemingly bottomless songbook, which focuses on deep cuts but notably excludes annoying, over-sung karaoke standbys. (Consider yourself warned—you won’t find “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Jolene,”  or “Sweet Caroline,” unless you’re looking for the metal version.) Beloved KJ John Brophy is constantly adding new songs, and even creates his own original backing tracks for rarities that can’t be purchased elsewhere. The New York Times called Baby Ketten “America’s greatest karaoke night,” and it’s obvious why. The only downside is its popularity—if you sing, you’re likely going to be singing to a full house. Pro tip: Baby Ketten’s entire songbook is available to browse online, for those who prefer to be extra prepared before baring their souls to strangers. CD Mondays at Alberta Street Pub, 1036 NE Alberta; Tuesdays at Century, 930 SE Sandy


Karaoke from Hell 

Longstanding musical institutions are hard to come by in Portland these days, but one of the few left standing is Karaoke from Hell, Tres Shannon’s live-band karaoke experience that’s been going strong for 25 years. The appeal ain’t that difficult: Here’s a chance for folks of all stripes to sing while being backed by real musicians! It’s all of your rock-star fantasies fulfilled in three- to five-minute increments. Like those tinny instrumentals you’ll hear in typical karaoke spots, the music isn’t a carbon copy of the original tracks, but it’s close enough that you’d best know your stuff before getting onstage. If not, at least Shannon will be there to help get you back on track. They’ve also got one of the most diverse and fun songbooks around. ROBERT HAM Mondays at Dante’s, 350 W Burnside; First Thursdays at Spare Room, 4830 NE 42nd

Love Mercury Food & Drink Coverage?


Stripparoke 

Forget church—Sundays are for Stripparoke, the only karaoke night in Portland where nude dancers perform while you sing. Devil’s Point pioneered this winning combination more than a decade ago, and it’s inspired similar events in other cities. Stripparoke’s not for the meek—you have to be comfortable in a strip club—but it’s great because (A) there’s already a big stage, and (B) there’s no way anybody’s going to be looking at you. A few guidelines that should be obvious, but apparently aren’t: Don’t touch the dancers! Don’t bring your phone! Tip both the KJ and the dancer! Don’t be a dumb jerk! The song selection isn’t the best in town, but try to pick something that’s not too annoying for the performers you’ll be sharing a stage with. CD Sundays at Devil’s Point, 5305 SE Foster


Voicebox Karaoke

My attraction to Voicebox is simple: When I go out to do karaoke, I want to sing a lot. That’s not an easy thing to do when hunkered down for a busy night at Chopsticks or Baby Ketten. But with a private room and a few forgiving friends, I can turn a night out into my closest approximation of a one-person show. Beside my egotistical desires, there are plenty of reasons to recommend a trip to Voicebox. Before 9 pm (or 7 pm Friday through Sunday), it’s open to all ages, which means your little future superstars can get a chance to hone their chops before the next American Idol audition. And because you control the song selection, you can also skip a tune when it hits a boring stretch or you find out, the hard way, that it’s out of your range. The only downside: It ain’t cheap. During peak time, the group rate is $90 an hour, not including their reasonably priced food and drink. You get what you pay for, though: not having to wait an hour between songs and avoiding any overly friendly, booze-fueled strangers who really liked how you sang Sheryl Crow’s “If It Makes You Happy.” RH Daily, 2112 NW Hoyt & 734 SE 6th