I was reminded of the real reason I love Richard Cheese‘s music yesterday, when I was in a lift in a department store. As per usual, there was a background noise, a hum of some errant melody, tuneful, but not actually resembling anything I had heard in my many years listening to music. Muzak has a bad name – it’s music for people who don’t like music. It’s meaningless piffle, but it has a purpose, to fill the awkward silence of the vacuum of everyday life.

In a similar vein, lounge music has always been compared to muzak in the sense that its vacuousness has no intrinsic meaning. Of course, there is the highest of the high lounge music, stars like Sinatra, Martin, the Rat Pack, the Vegas lounge music which is the zenith of any musical genre. But the lounge music per se at its nadir is quite frankly, both technically inexpert and musically dull, in my opinion. It’s background music for bars who want to play music which doesn’t offend; in most cases, royalty-free music…

So, imagine my surprise a few years back, when, listening to Coverville, a great podcast (and still available on itunes), when I heard a cover of Radiohead’s Creep in a lounge style. It was fresh, exciting, and although it had the propensity to be a bit cheesy, it wasn’t.

Richard Cheese – (the music is cheesy, Dick Cheese) lives and works in the Mecca itself of lounge music, Las Vegas. He takes pop, rock and hip-hop songs and subverts them into his style. In most mortals’ hands, this could be a disastrous venture. But here, the musical handling is adroit and proficient. His pianist is technically superb, little riffs of rolling smooth jazz that accentuate the beat.

I chose this cover, I could have chosen a few, because it’s a cover which could have been awful. But it’s one I listen to a lot, and dare I say, prefer it to the normal song…

By Paul Napper


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