Remember Ween’s failed Pizza Hut jingle, “Where’d The Cheese Go?”
Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: Music.
Escape with me to a simpler time: a time when Rolling Stone offered readers such amusing features as “Modern Trivia” (ex: Michael Jackson claims he wrote many of his hits in a tree), and restaurants were reinventing the way people thought about eating pizza by rolling out such innovative dishes as the “Insider” (a pizza with cheese INSIDE the crust!). Yes, indeed, 2002 was a good year.
To help publicly promote the “Insider,” Pizza Hut hired an advertising agency which was to search far and wide for musicians who would be able to channel the spirit of the pie and produce a song that would help to ceremoniously unveil the dish. Based on the suggestion of a forward thinking visionary (personal speculation), they hired Ween. The “brothers” accepted the position and proceeded to create what they thought to be the perfect complement to the tantalizing dish, a jingle which they called “Where’d The Cheese Go?”
Dean and Gene submitted the track, along with five others including “everything from spaghetti western to stuff that’s really mysterious rock that’s over the top shit,” to the agency with the belief that they had triumphantly completed the task at hand. Success! But they were sorely mistaken as each and every song they produced was harshly rejected. So what is one to do when at first you don’t succeed? That’s right: get all gangsta wit’ it! Ween returned to the studio with the belief that “Where’d The Cheese Go?” was more than sufficient, but it apparently lacked what the company was looking for. And what did Dean and Gene Ween think the company was looking for? An edgy theme song with elements of The Street so deeply embedded that Pizza Hut would then have enough street cred to choke a camel. This belief manifested itself in a track called, “Bitch, Where’d The Mother Fuckin’ Cheese Go At?”
Dean and Gene Ween were promptly dismissed from the project.
The Rolling Stone article “Just Not Cheesy Enough” (2003) documents Ween’s failed attempt at lending the “Insider” its theme song. While enthusiastically revealing to the magazine that, “It’s our illest record in a really long time,” Dean Ween’s stance on the situation would change over time, later condemning the song’s existence in an interview with Flak Magazine. “I’m done with the Pizza Hut thing. Every-fucking-body keeps asking about it. It’s the most publicity Ween has gotten in the last two, three years, and it has nothing to do with Ween or what the band is. Tuesday night, we’re doing an all-request concert broadcast on weenradio.com and we let the fans vote online for the set list. And, as of last night, the fuckin’ Pizza Hut song is number two on the list. It’s like, oh, great. The fuckin’ Pizza Hut song.”
That “all-request concert broadcast” was recorded and released as All Request Live in 2003. In his review of the album, Pitchfork‘s Dan Miron (who gave the record a 7.7, for those keeping score) followed his reflection on the recording by describing its climax, “We’ve been through the tunnel of Ween, and the absolute highlight is waiting: ‘Where’d the Cheese Go?’ ” He continued, “[The song] is a rendition of the duo’s notorious rejected Pizza Hut jingle that’s been upped to nearly six minutes. It may be the best balance of idiot/savant they’ve accomplished to date. The music is burbly Cars intro meets chicken-scratch JB’s guitar, double-dating Cameo’s vocoder and the ‘Purple Rain’ guitar wind-up—and it’s all anchored by a bass so fluid I barely believe it has strings.” “Never mind how warped the lyrics are,” Miron concluded, “I could attempt excerpts, but without the accents, it’s pretty pointless.” And how.
By many accounts, Ween and “Where’d The Cheese Go?” are now connected no more. But while the band has distanced itself from the jingle, a cult-like following of fans have continued to pay tribute to the celebrated theme song. That’s putting it nicely though, as the aforementioned “tributes” come in the form of a cesspool of terrible fan-made videos created by people whose time is clearly of little to no value to them. For the sake of not letting things get out of control, the embeds of the videos will be limited to the “best” fan video. Oh, and as much as it pains me to say this: you can, in fact, blame this one on Canada.
(Caution: before proceeding, please keep in mind that this video is the “best” of the bunch.)
For a while the tributes are cute enough, as the people being recorded simply ham it up a bit for the camera:
• Some adorable children bounce around while someone, presumably their parent(s), plays the song for them.
• A slightly older cheese craving gremlin child’s poor attempt at keeping in time with the song.
• A pair of ladies performing both versions of the song, redeemed only by the girl not wearing the clown wig (who will from this day forward be referred to as “the hot one” of the friendship). (link 1 | link 2)
But from there the videos quickly turn into burning hellish nightmares produced by the creatively handicapped:
• A crudely assembled dual-tribute video to both the song and a “cheese-eating friend.” (video deleted)
• A stuffed moose being humped by some dude who’s lip-synching the song.
• A stop-motion Lego video…
• Or how about a video made from repurposing footage from the creepy old Zelda cartoon?
• And then there’s this asshole: I’m not sure what’s worse about this one, the fact that the guy dancing in the video is likely fertile, or that there’s someone behind the camera encouraging this bullshit. (video deleted)
There are also a few musical tributes:
• A remix by DJ C0LDFISH (not to be confused with DJ COLDFISH), which isn’t so much a remix as it is playing the song once through while adding a few tweaks before brutally raping its dissected pieces for the next minute. (track deleted)
• And lastly, there’s Pterodactyl Rider, a band who felt their performance of both versions to be such an important moment in history that they needed to be documented and uploaded to the grand Internet Archive so they could live on for the rest of time. (If for some ungodly reason you wish to listen to the rest of the band’s show, you can do so at Archive.org.)
Think about it… all this, simply because Ween’s artistic direction was in conflict with the image of the “Insider.” As weird as this piece of history is, just imagine how strange it would have been to hear Ween blaring at you with a spaghetti western-themed “Where’d The Cheese Go?” jingle every time Monday Night Football went to commercial. Come to think of it, that actually sounds kind of cool.
[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]