If Sinatra was still around, he’d smack you up, bitch

Posted: July 29, 2018 in music
Tags: , , , , , ,

In Part II of our series on rock and other genres poured through the coffee filter of what I’m loosely calling “lounge,” our Spotlight Team turns to the man who believes he’s cheddar, the singular most popular cheese in the world, when he’s not even Venezuelan beaver cheese and in fact the van broke down ages ago: Mark Jonathan Davis, better known as Richard Cheese.

RC-LOGO-VEGAS-PREMASTER.jpgLounge Against the Machine (2000), Tuxicity (2003), Aperitif for Destruction (2005), I’d Like a Virgin (2006), OK Bartender (2010), Supermassive Black Tux (2015), and too many more to fuck with

Cheese’s raison d’etre is to sing lounge versions of songs that are tasteless (Nirvana’s “Rape Me”), anything with an impolite word (Radiohead’s “Creep,” Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up”*), songs that can be rearranged in preposterous ways (U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” rewired as a cha-cha), or songs that were already dumb when they were hatched (Nena’s “99 Luftballoons”).

* I am thankful that “Smack My Bitch Up” only has eight words. (The other four are “Change my pitch up.”) The eight words are credited to five writers, which sounds like the writing credits to the typical Star Trek movie.

Weird Al makes up new lyrics for existing songs to express his own ideas. Cheese lets the existing lyrics speak for themselves by setting them in this fake Vegas tiara. After four or five cuts on the first album you’ve basically heard everything he’s going to give you in the next hundred, but he does have some surprises up his cummerbund. His cover of “Only Happy When It Rains” by Garbage is serious and almost emotional. That’s a tsunami in a shot glass for Cheese.

Cheese’s voice is above average, but it’s brassy, without much nuance. He can growl, sort of, but he never loses his passing vocal resemblance to Steve Martin. His arrangements are for small groups of musicians who can really swing, and I like how he compresses almost everything into a 2-minute formula so you’re never marooned in his shtick for long. His best cuts are his covers of “Creep” (clever) and Coldplay’s “Yellow” (hilarious). His jazz arrangement of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” has some voltage. However, his real contributions to popular culture are his album titles.

There’s not much call for Richard Cheese around these parts, and if in fact he ever infiltrates our place of residence I hope the dog eats him.

Consumer note

If you ever see Cheese live: He’s sick and tired of people yelling “Free Bird!” at his concerts. Be sure you yell it.

Coming up in Parts III and IV: People who sing like they mean it.


  1. mikener says:

    You ground the Cheese down quite fine, sir, into all it’s crumbly subatomic shticks.
    Every word of your review spot on, toned to perfection.

    When I first approached this material, I thought I’d love it, but it quickly became nothing more than an R-rated rip-off of Bill Murry’s SNL character, which I’m also only able to enjoy for maybe a song and a half.

    Too bad, because those album titles are awesome.

    • Run-DMSteve says:

      If he had held himself to one album, I’d would’ve made it a Random Pick of the Day. Oh well. The man has to eat. There’s a Yiddish proverb that goes something like “Making a living is like trying to part the Red Sea.” No wonder Cheese needs a supermassive black tux.

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