All About Toronto:
Places to sing...
XO Karaoke (693 Bloor Street West)
I knew I couldn't let this issue go by without some commentary on karaoke. Michelle wrote about it in our first issue, where she admitted that she was a diva-in-training (you should see her now - the girl can't let go of that microphone). XO Karaoke is the place she was talking about in her article, and it's my home away from home. My foray into the ancient art of karaoke began there almost four years ago.
XO is not your typical karaoke joint. Boasting over 15 rooms of karaoke fun, it also has one of the most comprehensive song lists out there. You'd be amazed to find songs that are still currently in release, as well as old favourites. You'll find anyone and everyone from Celine Dion to OutKast to Linkin Park to Jennifer Lopez. Because the rooms are private, you can let go and allow your inner diva to shine. It's also liquor licensed for those wallflowers that need a little liquid courage to sing.
Each room has two microphones and giant speakers for that full-audio effect (note: depending on who you go with, you might have to bring along some ear plugs). The rooms can get expensive, as prices are determined by the group size and weekday/weekend rates. Obviously, weekends are more expensive, and more crowded. Sometimes there's a wait for a room, so reservations might be needed. The only drawback is that the more crowded it is, the longer the wait for a song. But it's all worth it to see if you have what it takes to be an international singing sensation or if you're better off keeping your day job.
Twister Karaoke (5586 Yonge Street)
Twister is another haven for karaoke freaks, but the trek to Yonge & Steeles is difficult when you live in central Toronto. Nevertheless, the distance is worth it to get my karaoke fix.
Like XO, Twister also has a comprehensive song list, but it does take them longer to get new stuff in. It also has many songs that XO doesn't offer. I was very happy to see Vanessa Williams' "Save the Best for Last" (Michelle, stop rolling your eyes) and Mariah Carey's "Crybaby." Twister is liquor licensed as well, and also has two floors of rooms. Some weekends, the waiting list is so long that you can see lines spilling outside onto the sidewalk. Rate-wise, Twister and XO are basically the same, but it's more worth your buck going with XO.
The main problem with Twister is the rooms. While some are spacious, others are not so much. I can recall several times when I was forced to sing in a room the size of a coat closet. The acoustics are not so great, and it's difficult to open the door without banging it into the couch. The song books also pose a problem. While the older material is alphabetized, the newer songs are not, making it difficult to find a song that you wanted to sing. But all in all, Twister is still a decent place to let your inhibitions go. ¤ C.Ho.