Richard Cheese puts lounge spin on popular songs

I have never seen a Richard Cheese crowd do anything but smile, laugh, cheer and sing along. And that includes me. His show is fun, funny, a great date night, and it's tailor-made for Vegas.

If you're unfamiliar with Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine, he wears a tiger-print tuxedo and, with charming swagger, he belts out lounge versions of pop, rock and rap hits in the fashion of Tony Bennett.

He and his band are often more fun in concert than the famous stars they're covering, which is why they've played "Jimmy Kimmel Live," the Howard Stern show and "Last Call with Carson Daly."


Cheese tells me which songs get the biggest responses, and you shouldn't be surprised.

■ "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot. It features the classic lines, "I like big butts," and, "Red beans and rice didn't miss her."

"It's a love song," Cheese says.

■ "Down with the Sickness" by Disturbed.

"That song was in the movie 'Dawn of the Dead,' " so it's requested a lot, he says.

■ "Closer," by Nine Inch Nails.

He usually opens his set with "Closer," but on Saturday at Green Valley Ranch, he wants to start with Khia's "My Neck, My Back." Its refrain goes, "Lick my (expletive) and my (deleted)."

"It's in the tradition of the great songs by Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald," Cheese claims.

"Khia is saying to the man: This is how I want you to love me.

"That's what a love song is about. It's an instruction booklet on how to get to her heart. So many lounge songs are like that."

■ "Somebody Told Me" by the Killers.

It goes, "Well somebody told me/ You had a boyfriend/ Who looked like a girlfriend/ That I had in February of last year."

"We do that as a slow piano ballad," Cheese says. "It's a wonderful lyric about a guy who finds out his girl has been unfaithful."

■ "Perfect Situation" by Weezer.

Cheese thinks Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo is one of the great songwriters of all time.

"I am honored to send Rivers Cuomo 9 cents every time we sell one of his songs on our CDS."


Cheese has a few more new songs in his repertoire.

■ "Rehab" by Amy Winehouse.

"That's a really nice, upbeat song."

■ "I Melt With You" by Modern English. He and Lounge will perform that for the first time live on Saturday.

■ "The big thing now is we're doing 'Stairway to Heaven' " by Led Zeppelin.

■ And he's singing, "Tonight I'm (Expletive) You" by Enrique Iglesias.

"You gotta listen to it," Cheese insists. "It's really catchy."

Cheese has dropped a few songs from rotation, and not just to make room to play new songs from his latest album. (His most recent CD is "OK Bartender.")

Cheese dropped "Nookie" ("I did it all for the nookie") by Limp Bizkit, after Bizkit singer Fred Durst never returned Cheese's calls.

"We played a party at the Playboy Mansion a few years ago. He (Durst) basically lives there. And he said, 'Hey I like your stuff.' He gave me a business card with his phone number on it. He said, 'Call me up.' "

Cheese claims it really upset him that Durst didn't call back.

"But then," he says, "I realized I should be really happy that I don't have a relationship with Fred Durst -- that he's not calling me, that I'm not working in the same room with him. I was relieved."

Cheese has stopped singing some tunes because the lyrics are too complicated to recall when he's buzzed onstage.

"So, for example, we weren't doing 'Insane in the Membrane' for a long time, because it was really hard for me to remember all the lyrics when I was drunk.

"We are going to be doing that song in Vegas, and I think we're going to be having tango dancers during that -- Carlos & Mayte."

But he will sing "Membrane" early in the show when he's not completely intoxicated.

Cheese says he has heard from a few musicians he covers, from Disturbed to the Killers and Coldplay, that they are fans.

"We played at a show with (Coldplay) in the early 2000s, and Chris Martin walked up and said, 'Are you the bloke who sings the lounge music? I love it.'

"Then they became very popular and famous, and I never heard from them again."

If you go to Saturday's show, you can find Cheese afterward at the hotel's Fatburger.

"Any of the ladies who would like to join me after the show, that's where I'll be," he says. "It's just about the ladies and the burgers."

Doug Elfman's column appears Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. E-mail him at delfman@ He blogs at