To most audiences, the idea of karaoke follows one, singular format: getting up on a stage in front of a roomful of strangers and singing your guts out. No matter what, you’re more than likely in for a great evening of fun. However, for those camera-shy members of your crew who may need a little more encouragement, there is an awesome alternative: private karaoke rooms also known as Korean karaoke (noraebang).

What is Korean karaoke?

Derived from the Korean words for “song” (norae) and “room” (bang), the Korean style of karaoke differs from regular stage karaoke in that your singing experience – whether that features your family, friends, co-workers or business associates – takes place within a private room. Korean karaoke is just as fun, but with a more personal spin for those members of your party who aren’t as comfortable singing in front of strangers. And, of course, like any truly outstanding karaoke experience, you can have your private karaoke room serviced with food and drinks.

To break it down even further, here’s a general sampling of the Korean karaoke experience:

Once you’ve found a noraebang in your area, if it’s your first time, you should know that most Korean karaoke venues will offer a private room to rent by the hour. Depending on the location you may need a reservation, especially if you’re bringing an extra-large crowd.

large group of friends in a private korean karaoke room
O'Leary's Järntorget - Gothenburg

You’ll likely be asked to pay in advance for the number of hours you and your party plan to use the room. Prices can vary depending on the type of establishment, the venue's amenities, and especially the time of day. You can also pre-pay for additions like food, alcohol, and table-style service, if available. If you are going to a Korean venue don't be surprised to see signs asking you to remove your shoes when in your room, as this is a very common custom and a sign of respect in Korean culture.

group enjoying food and drinks in a korean karaoke room
O'Leary's Järntorget - Gothenburg

Now that you've got your room number, you and your guests can head over and survey the scene – where you'll find microphones, video screens, and mood décor like strobe lights and disco balls. Pick your preferred titles from the provided song list (or song queue) book, a massive catalog of tracks from all eras of music, usually in multiple languages, and begin by prepping your vocals. Like stage karaoke, you’ll be able to follow along to the lyrics on one of the video screens. Once your room time is over, you can often top up and stay longer.

woman selecting karaoke song from Singa interface
O'Leary's Järntorget - Gothenburg

The Global appeal of Korean karaoke

The global karaoke market, which some have estimated to be worth around $10 billion, has always been most profitable in Asia. However, like many great ideas, Western audiences have embraced it and seen fit to adapt it to a new stage. Now, karaoke bars and eatertainment establishments with dedicated karaoke rooms are all the rage in Europe and the Americas. In fact, karaoke apps are even making their way onto the global stage, like Singa, a karaoke streaming service that lets you sing karaoke anywhere from the mobile or web app. What’s more, given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many karaoke-enthusiasts prefer the more private nature of noraebang as it provides competitive socializing among friends in a more personalized, less open space.

group of friends in a private korean karaoke room
The Melody Club - Gothenburg

Karaoke has been a fascinating and engaging concept for decades, so it’s no surprise to see karaoke experiencing a renaissance of popularity well into the 2020s, especially within the entertainment and hospitality industry

Where to find private karaoke rooms near you

Depending on where you live, if you are near a major metropolitan city, chances are you are within a distance of countless karaoke bars and venues with karaoke rooms. Discover a world of possibilities with Singa’s handy karaoke venue search tool, and download the app to request songs in the venue or sing karaoke on your own.

Korean karaoke, anyone?

Interested in giving noraebang a try? Start with a little inspiration by pre-jamming to some of the most iconic and popular K-Pop songs of all time. Discover even more options with this super-handy playlist.

BTS – Butter

Arguably the biggest K-Pop boy band at the moment, BTS has managed to garner fans from across the globe thanks to their synth-heavy bops, distinct looks, and their ultra-catchy 2021 hit “Butter”. It’s really the perfect track for noraebang. Sing BTS - Butter karaoke here.

BLACKPINK – Lovesick Girls

Leave it to the ladies of BLACKPINK to release the perfect mix of dance and electropop meets EDM. “Lovesick Girls”, released in late 2020, is the perfect track to hit with a few girlfriends to start the night off right. Sing BLACKPINK - Lovesick girls karaoke here.

Red Velvet – Bad Boy

For the smoother, more sultry side of girl-group K-Pop, there’s Red Velvet and their ultimately cool track “Bad Boy”, an absolute banger of a song with slick production and R&B-reminiscent vibes. Try reserving this track for the end of the night once things have cooled down a little. Sing Red Velvet - Bad Boy karaoke here.

PSY – Gangnam Style

The original! Some attribute K-Pop’s early influence to PSY and his positively iconic 2012 track "Gangnam Style", and its multi-billion-viewed video. Now a staple of weddings and flash mobs, this unequivocally catchy Korean song remains one of the few that can still bring audiences, young and old, together. Sing PSY - Gangnam Style karaoke here.

EXO – Love Shot

Boy bands are back –– with a vengeance, as the die-hard fans of South Korean-Chinese supergroup EXO know all too well. This incredibly catchy track, with its steamy video and stick-in-your-head lyrics, is a great avenue to explore when preparing for a night of noraebang. Sing ECO - Love Shot karaoke here.

Jennie – Solo

One of the breakout members of BLACKPINK, Jennie went solo in 2018 with the “sorry, but not sorry” hit “SOLO”, featuring a perfect mix of K-Pop, rap, and bubble gum beats. Sing Jennie - Solo karaoke here.

All in all, noraebang, or Korean karaoke, is a popular and ever-growing trend among audiences, not to mention an exciting social experience for friends who love to sing without the fear of public humiliation. Regardless of whether you can sing well, a private room – with all the bells and whistles of an eatertainment establishment – allows you to take karaoke to another level of fun.