Seattle's Best Karaoke: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly"/>
With the increased availability of karaoke on modern-day video game consoles, I'd have thunk the Seattle's Best Karaoke 's rent-a-room niche would have been overrun>"/>
With the increased availability of karaoke on modern-day video game consoles, I'd have thunk the Seattle's Best Karaoke's rent-a-room niche would have been overrun by area living rooms by now. But a Saturday night visit to the Denny Triangle institution proved me wrong -- the rooms were packed. I had a great time (I'd never been before), but hardly came away uniformly impressed. Hence, the following dissection.
The Good: While the technology in each room is relatively archaic -- LaserDiscs and a remote that looks like it was stolen from the set of War Games -- the song selection is pretty fantastic. Nintendo karaoke song selection tends to suck, which is probably why SBK still has a pulse. The cost to rent a room is reasonable (provided you pack it with peeps), and it's a BYOB-banquet permit ($10) setup. Comparisons to home entertainment aside, it makes for a fun way to blow off steam with some friends. Plus, it's across the street from Habesha, which, in addition to serving gigantic platters of food you can eat with your hands, appears to be the place to be for Ethiopian expats on the make.
The Bad: I'm of the opinion that karaoke isn't karaoke unless it's performed in front of a decent amount of strangers in a public area. Hence, the entire premise of private room karaoke leaves me limp. Performing karaoke in someone's rec room in front of like six friends turns me on even less. At least at SBK, you're out -- and drunken neighbors can inadvertently wander into your room (heck, you could even invite 'em).
The Ugly: Considering that it's housed on the ground floor of a fairly modern downtown building, the fact that SBK's interior has all the charm of a prison waiting room is somewhat surprising. And the fact that the private rooms have all the charm of a rent-by-the-hour fleabag motel is downright criminal. There are dents and dirt on the barren white walls, the futon cushions are so worn that it's like sitting on metal bleachers, and the rooms are cooled only by a small oscillating fan (read: it's like singing outdoors in Alabama in July, even though in Seattle it's 35 degrees outside). Yet if the spartan surroundings keep customer costs down, it's worth living with. But still.