Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

It's time for an in-depth review of Chuck E. Cheese's recent musical output

Charles Entertainment Cheese, eyes permanently wide from amphetamine-fuelled late night studio sessions, plays guitar.
Charles Entertainment Cheese, eyes permanently wide from amphetamine-fuelled late night studio sessions, plays guitar.
Screenshot: Chuck E. Cheese

Chuck E. Cheese, vermin dispenser of mediocre pizza and fiat arcade currency, may have fallen on hard times recently, but tragedy seems to have acted as a powerful source of inspiration for his musical career. In an overview of the Good Time Rodent’s recent discography, Slate’s Alex Marcus makes the case for spending some time discovering—and appreciating—a children’s novelty restaurant band whose music is “actually… somehow… good.”

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Though his animatronic Munch’s Make Believe Band (MMBB) has found live gigs harder to come by lately, Charles Entertainment Cheese has continued to fulfill the terms of the draconian record deal that requires he and his group to put out “new, original songs every few months to fuel the restaurant’s in-store soundtracks and birthday celebrations.”

Marcus explains that Bowling For Soup’s Jaret Reddick has provided Chuck E.’s vocals and helped guide the mouse’s musical direction since 2012, resulting in what’s described in the article as “recent releases [that] are far better than they have any right to be.” He highlights tracks like the P-Funk-reminiscent “Me & My Friends,” the pop-punk stylings of “It’s Chuck E!,” the a cappella, Halloween-themed “Nobody There,” and the honky tonk Christmas track, “Jasper’s Snowman.”

“The more you listen to these Chuck E. Cheese albums, as I have over the last nine months,” Marcus writes, “the more you appreciate the thought and craft in each lyric and flourish.” As his review of the mascot’s body of work continues, the article branches out from simply praising the band—which includes drummer Pasqually, dog guitarist Jasper T. Jowls, bird bassist Hellen Henny, keyboardist Mr. Munch, and Chuck E. himself on lead vocals—to investigating how the songs frequently demonstrate a comedic willingness to revolt against the “oppressive working conditions” faced by the prolific group or flirt with postmodern experimentation.

Read the rest of Slate’s Chuck E. appraisal over here or dig into the catalog to discover the hits for yourself. If nothing else, we strongly encourage you to experience the sonic journey of “Song Title” as performed by the shambling husks of the restaurant’s robot musicians.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.