Whether you are a lover or hater of the not-so-ancient Japanese art form, karaoke is everywhere these days. As an industry worth nearly $10 billion, the act of standing up in front of friends and strangers to butcher Journey songs has become a global pastime. Denver is brimming with lively and delightful karaoke nights sure to fit any style or schedule. Below is a list of Denver's ten best karaoke bars.
1076 Ogden Street, 303-860-8353
Every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m.
Few bars in town have earned a reputation like Barricuda’s. Announcing a night at the steadfast Capitol Hill dive may elicit as many grimaces as high-fives. The bar and its clientele can be a bit rough around the edges, but there is a grimy authenticity that cannot be denied. Each week, Spaceman Mike keeps it real while the regulars drink and converse, treating the performers like background music. To win over this crowd on the mic will make you feel like the Blues Brothers — and it wouldn’t hurt to sing them, either.
9. Sobo 151
151 South Broadway, 303-778-1560
Every Thursday and Saturday at 9 p.m.
While the line for Punch Bowl Social extends down South Broadway on a Saturday night, a quirky eastern European bar down the street is home to a few tables of friends working their way through retro radio hits and skunky beers. If your goal is to sing as many songs as you can in one night, then Sobo — which appears to be flying under the radar of Denver transplants — is your spot.
8. Bar Car
819 Colorado Boulevard, 720-524-8099
Every Thursday at 9 p.m.
Bar Car has always done a good job of classing up the drinking experience, from its annual Kentucky Derby party to karaoke. DJ Tony’s professional proceedings are a perfect fit for the vintage interior of the bar. There is an aura of elegance at Bar Car that extends to the karaoke stage, where each song is best paired with a classic cocktail.
7. Ogden Street South
103 South Ogden Street, 303-722-0592
Every Friday and Saturday at 9:30 p.m.
Superficially, Ogden Street South appears to be a college bar for people who can’t deal with being out of college. But beneath the sticky, thin carpet and cheap pitchers of beer lies one of the most dedicated karaoke rooms in the city. The crowd at OSS has a deep love of 'raoke, cheering on strangers and drunkenly singing along, with little regard for their own place on the list. The feeling of camaraderie transforms the room, making it feel more like a private party than a group of strangers looking to exercise their narcissism.
6. Sushi Bay 17
728 East 17th Avenue, 303-321-1805
Despite the large number of karaoke nights in the city, Denver is home to a surprisingly few private karaoke rooms. For those who hate to wait for their song selection or can’t stand seeing someone they don’t know sing would be best served heading to Sushi Bay 17. For $15 an hour, up to twenty people can shamelessly sing without the judgment of karaoke snobs and power drunks. Pair that with a Godzilla roll off the happy-hour menu, and you've got everything you need.
900 East Colfax Avenue, 303-839-8890
Every Wednesday at 9:30 p.m.
Karaoke, like most things, is more fun at a gay bar. That is especially true at legendary institution Charlie’s, where beloved local drag queen Venus Sexton serves the fun and the shade every Wednesday. You'll hear plenty of songs by gay icons like Diana Ross alongside country classics and modern pop hits while Venus roasts those not worthy of her stage.
4. Punk Rock Karaoke at El Charrito
2100 Larimer Street, 303-523-1688
Last Tuesday of the month at 9 p.m.
While some may think that El Charrito’s regular weekend karaoke fare is the best in town, it isn’t even the best karaoke night at that bar. That distinction belongs to one of the few live-band karaoke offerings around town. On the last Tuesday of every month, One Time Crime helps aging punks re-create their youth with covers of Face to Face, Dead Kennedys and NOFX, just to name a few. Straight-edge kids are welcome as long as they tip for that water.
3. Star Bar
2137 Larimer Street, 720-328-2420
Every Tuesday and Thursday
One of Denver’s oldest bars also hosts one of its best karaoke nights. Star Bar’s wood paneling and homey vibe are almost enough to make you forget that you are in the heart of LoDo (LoBro?). Some of the downtown riffraff will stumble in from time to time, but this night is for those who want to slam a whiskey and Coors before singing a song that reminds them of their dad.
2. Tennyson’s Tap
4335 West 38th Avenue, 303-455-4269
Every Monday at 9 p.m.
As the city's north side turns into a giant Vitamin Cottage, Tennyson’s Tap is a stalwart of old-school Denver. Host “Mark Starr” Armijo has been an unwavering karaoke presence after hosting many popular nights at the Squire Lounge and 3 Kings. He now brings his antics to Tennyson’s Tap, where shirts are optional and dancing on the bar is required.
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840 Lincoln Street, 303-837-8921
Every Night of the Week
Denver’s most well-known karaoke bar is also it’s most confounding. Named Westword's Best Karaoke Bar in 2016, Armida’s is a melting pot of bros, families and loners united by their common goal to drink giant beers and screech throaty renditions of pop songs. You can argue whether Armida’s has the best karaoke in town, but you can’t argue with its shameless sincerity.