Macaulay Culkin, the adorable multiple-time attempted murderer from Home Alone, has finally found something to do with all his money and free time: form a band. But since 24 hours a day just isn’t enough time to write, compose, arrange, and practice new material, Culkin and his crew have instead settled on performing covers of Velvet Underground songs, with the lyrics tweaked to be about nothing but pizza.
No, that’s not a hunger-driven typo. The Pizza Underground sings exclusively about their love of Michelangelo’s favorite snack, crafting poetic song titles like “I’m Beginning to Eat the Slice”, “I’m Waiting for the Delivery Man”, “All Tomorrow’s Pizza Parties”, and one simply titled “Pizza.” If nothing else, this venture proves that Culkin does not spend his millions on gourmet dining.
The band has been a thing since 2012, but only unveiled itself to the world a few months ago. The world has … not responded well. Twice in the past few days, the Pizza Underground was pelted with beer and booed off stage, because the Velvet Underground is not to be tamped with, dadgummit!
Their music is, safe to say, not for everyone. It’s five people slurring their words inharmoniously while one of them drums on a pizza box. Clearly, this isn’t a supergroup of improvisational jazz prodigies. That being said, they’re still getting a raw deal, and only the most ardent pizza hater should even think of dismissing them and their act. Here are a few reasons why:
At Least They’re Trying Something Different
What exactly is the point of a straight-up cover band? If you’re in a band and have even a passing knowledge of how songs work, why wouldn’t you write at least a few of your own? Or, barring that, mutate other people’s songs until they’re your own?
The Pizza Underground are doing the latter: taking decades-old music and altering them just enough that they become their own thing. And while that thing may not result in PU becoming the next Rush, it’s better than simply going out there and parroting what people before you have done. After all, according to Billie Holiday, straight-up covers “ain’t music, it’s close-order drill or exercise or yodeling or something, not music.”
Am I comparing five stoners warbling about sauce-covered yeast to one of the greatest singers of all time? Might be.
Lou Reed Would Approve
Apparently, many who booed the Pizza Underground did so because, to them, PU’s shtick was the height of disrespect. Velvet Underground is one the greatest groups of all-time, they say, and to turn their songs into pizza odes is like taking a giant shit on Lou Reed’s grave.
You know who would probably disagree? Lou Reed. Yes, he gave us the Velvets, but outside of that, the man put out hot garbage pile after hot garbage pile simply because he could. He could barely sing, and barely even tried to. He made Metal Machine Music fully aware of how shitty is was and then decades later, just in case he hadn’t yet pissed off every single fan in existence, he recorded Lulu, an album so atrocious he only escaped arrest for crimes against humanity due to dying.
Reed didn’t give a fuck about anything, except angering those who expected him to. If somebody told him that a group of kids were adding pizza lyrics to his work, he’d be thrilled. Well, as “thrilled” as Lou Reed could ever be.
Hey babe, take a walk on the party side.
It’s Keeping Culkin Away From Acting
I don’t care how much you love Home Alone — there’s no way you look at Macaulay Culkin and think “genius thespian.” He died at the end of My Girl (fuck the spoiler tag, you had 23 years to watch it), as did his career. A string of crappy post-Wet Bandits films has resulted in a paltry four roles since 1994. And unlike Daniel-Day Lewis, it’s not because he’s supremely talented and ultra-picky about choosing only the best roles. He’s doing it because he has fucktons of money, realizes he’s not that good an actor anymore, and doesn’t give a shit. Also, he really, really loves pizza.
The signs were there from the start.
We should encourage him to keep touring, so he keeps away from the camera even longer. Play stadiums, bingo halls, state fairs, basements, attics, Warped Tour, SNL — shit, resurrect Lilith Fair and headline that if you can. There are girls in the band, it counts.
Who Cares if Every Song is About Pizza
Yes, they sing about the same thing song in and song out. You know who else does that? Every band ever, that’s who. Eminem hates everybody. The Red Hot Chili Peppers love California. Barry White wants to have sex with you. AC/DC enjoys rock and roll. (Insert Rapper Here) is awesome and the best rapper in history. (Insert 98% of Bands Here) either love their lovers or are sad to see their lover go.
In other words, the Pizza Underground revolving each and every opus around pie isn’t that weird. Look at the track listing of your average album. Chances are better than good that you’ll see the word “love” at least four times, and just as many references to it. What kind of creative process is that?
“OK gang, we need song ideas — whatcha got?”
“A song about love.”
“Perfect, what else? Just spit ‘em out, this is brainstorming time.”
“Another song about love.”
“I like it! We need more though, maybe some variety.”
“A song about wanting to be in love but not currently being so.”
So if a washed-up actor wants to reinvent himself as a cheese-and-tomato troubadour, let him. Behave yourself at his show and he might even feed you. He can’t possibly eat all that pizza by himself, after all.