Mad Pizza's Hold Music: "Yeah, I'm a gangsta, but still I got flavor"

Forget muzak, Seattle-based Mad Pizza decided to spice up their hold music by playing N.W.A’s “Fuck Tha Police.” Clint Brownlee over at Seattlest made the discovery on Sunday night while trying to order a pizza.

When the Mad Pizza dude picked up the line again we were conflicted–should we ask if he knew (or cared) what people on hold were hearing? Should we pretend to be offended and hang up? We stammered and, lacking the adventurous nature of our 15-year old self, just ordered a pizza.

We would gladly listen to N.W.A rather than the bland mix of soft jazz or lite rock most companies use to avoid offending anyone’s delicate sensibilities. Do you care what you listen to while on hold? Tell us in the comments. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Parental Advisory: This Hold Music Contains Explicit Lyrics [Seattlest]


Edit Your Comment

  1. couriergrrrrl says:

    Uggh, I feel old! My first thought was “What about the children?” Shoot me.

  2. vanilla-fro says:

    Given the age of that particular song, they really had to try to get it ontheir hold music. Perhaps they were just holding the phone up to a “boom box”, “ghetto blaster”, or whatever the kids are calling it these days.

    I don’t care what is playing when I’m on hold for a pizza, but if this was a doctors’ office or somthing like that I would fell differently.

  3. XopherMV says:

    Oh my God… This is Seattle people! Not Hicksville, Mississippi, where the Christian conservatives ban Dungeons and Dragons and don’t allow teen dances.

    Seattle is a city where last week we had a festival that features naked bicyclists. We are the birthplace of grunge music. We pride ourselves on being laid-back, not wearing suits, and accepting people for who they are.

    I’ve been to Mad Pizza and this completely goes with the attitude they’re trying to project. They’re like a group of 20-something, laid-back dudes who decided to make pizza. I’m sure their hold music is the same music they play in their shop.

    So no, I don’t have a problem with this.

  4. BII says:

    I think its cool. One company I used to work for used to use the IT director’s music collection as hold music, which consisted mostly of metal, with the “naughty” songs removed from the list. And we did get a few complaints, so it was changed.

    The company I work for now uses classical music in the stores, and I just want to blow my head off some nights. But customers are adamant about it, there have been store managers fired over email complaints that something other classical was playing (usually jazz), *rolleyes*

  5. DeeJayQueue says:

    I’d so much rather listen to NWA than a distilled Kenny G or Chuck Mangione ripoff. I don’t really even like NWA that much.

  6. acambras says:

    I don’t suppose I’d have a problem with any type of hold music, as long as I’m not on hold forever, with the music regularly interrupted by “Your call is important to us — please continue to hold.”

  7. DeeJayQueue says:

    @BII: Do you work for Healthy Back? They mandate the CDs that get played in the stores, and when last I checked, it was on the secret shopper’s list of things to check for.

  8. bradite says:

    I’d laugh, but I’d probably tell them once I got to a person. Probably some outgoing employee’s idea of a joke.

  9. BII says:


    so when did $tarbuck$ lose its way? Maybe some of you locals should go over there and give them a swift kick in the behind and remind them of their roots?

  10. Terminixsux says:

    We had the alt rock station on our hold, and one day the song was Sheep go to heaven, but the gaots go to hell, go to hell, go to hell. Well one guy got pout on hold during a call transfer, and when I picked up, he told me, “Your hold music just told me to go to hell.” He was seriously pissed. We all had a good laugh about this one.

  11. catskyfire says:

    I admit…I do care what hold music is played. I’d go for insipid over profane any day. (Hint to tell for profane : Could it be played on the regular airwaves with the FCC having a cow?)

    And I’d go for insipid AND profane over advertising on hold. I called up one large corp one day, and got to listen to advertisements for their other services, while I waited for them to get to me.

    Or when I call some government offices, and they use the hold music to remind me about proper disposal of grass clippings.

    I also prefer actual songs, be it classical, jazz, or mutilated soft rock, to a vague tune that just repeats over and over.

    …And my call is not that important to you. If it was, you’d have answered already.

  12. firestarsolo says:

    The magnitude of complaint I intend to submit is directly proportional to how sucky their pizza is…

  13. dvddesign says:

    My last company allowed me to program the hold music lineup.

    We had: The Blumenschwanz Polka by Die arschgefickten Gummifotzen

    Chokotto LOVE by Pucci Moni

    Patricia by Joe Bucci Trio

    Battery by Metallica

    Twelve Days of Christmas by John Denver and the Muppets

    And so on…

    My whole thought process was that the sales guys KNEW what the hold music was, and they had to answer that call ASAP otherwise, our customers would ASK about the hold music which embarassed the hell out of the sales team. Suffice to say, calls were on hold for about 10-15 seconds tops.

    My opinion is that people shouldn’t have to be subjected to a full blown run of all curse words, but being creative in putting some quality hold music out there won’t hurt anyone.

  14. dvddesign says:

    Last time I called my previous company, they had Joe Satriani hold music, I sat on hold for 2 minutes.

  15. BII says:


    no, but it is a similar situation, every retail establishment is going to have rules dictating the music, to varying degrees.

    although, when i did work for starbucks, we hacked the music player,it didn’t play standard CDs, the music had a different encoding, i took a disk home, reversed engineered it, figured out the codec, ripped a bunch of CDs. (I don’t remember now the codec, this was years ago)

    Of course, later, when the music player got all statically, and my manager asked if I could look at it, i saw a much easier hack, there were RCA inputs in the back, all I had to do was get an RCA-3.5mm jack adapter male-male wire and then I could plug in my ipod, co-worker’s CD player, etc. (turned out the left speaker wire was loose)

  16. BII says:


    the FCC gets its panties in a bunch over the most harmless of things nowadays, I wouldn’t use that as my standard personally.

  17. Dirp says:

    I ordered the Mad Scientist from them and when it arrived I took a picture of it because the presentation was the best I’ve ever seen on a pizza. It was also delicious.

  18. BelBivDevolkswagen says:

    What time did he call for the pizza? I can understand people flipping out if it was like 10 AM and a Kindergarten teacher was ordering a pie for the monthly pizza party, but if it was a couple of Iron Maiden-loving stoners ordering a pizza at like midnight, who gives a crap?

  19. Youthier says:

    We got a complaint once from a little old lady about Mambo Number 5 playing on the radio at BR back in the late 90s. She felt it promoted promiscuity.

  20. Pelagius says:

    What’s the big whoop? I believe NWA is considered “oldies” now.

  21. justatwork says:

    I find it insulting to have to listen to degrading, obscene and violent music. If its on the radio, I can turn it off, if its coming out of the car next to me, I roll up my windows and drive faster; but being forced to listen to that stuff while I am on hold is asking a little much.

    Before I get flamed, remember, tolerance is a two way street.

  22. Papercutninja says:

    Soft Jazz is not music. It’s hot garbage. There has not been any jazz created in the last 40 years that doesn’t sound like noisy, too-cool-for-the-room dreck. I’m glad they used NWA.

  23. Peeved Guy says:

    My first thought was, “No! No profanity..”, blah, blah, blah.

    But then my (not so) common sense kicked in and I figured that if someone is that offended by the music, simply hang up and don’t give them your money. Done and done.

  24. BII says:

    @Peeved Guy:

    that’s what I’m thinking, then again, maybe their clientèle isn’t really going to be offended by NWA.

  25. Peeved Guy says:

    @Peeved Guy:
    Oh, I forgot… That also goes for all you youngsters that are complaining about the jazz, too. If you get that tweaked about the tunes, hang up.

  26. Islingtonian says:

    My dad used to control the hold music at his company, which was whatever he had on his CD player at the moment. Usually it was nothing offensive – Stevie Ray Vaughan or Miles Davis, etc. But, he learned how to burn CDs and burned that (as he called it) ‘song with a good beat from Office Space’ (aka Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta). Then one day he finally listened to the lyrics and realized it wasn’t the best song playing when the people from the bank called.

  27. bambino says:

    @Papercutninja: Seriously? Miles would kick you in the face with his fusion boots.

  28. Nelsormensch says:


    Forced? Nobody is forced to order from Mad Pizza. Just as you can choose to change the radio station, you can choose to order from another pizza place. And the chances of Domino’s or Papa John’s having N.W.A for their hold music is pretty much zero.

  29. I’ve been to Mad Pizza and this completely goes with the attitude they’re trying to project. They’re like a group of 20-something, laid-back dudes who decided to make pizza. I’m sure their hold music is the same music they play in their shop.

    Given what XopherMV said I’d say it’s ok for them to do it. (Even the person who sent this in wasn’t really offended.)

    I might feel different if I was a parent with kids old enough to watch themselves at home and order dinner…but I’m not.

  30. enm4r says:

    @justatwork: Blah blah. You’re insulted by the music, I’m insulted that you think we should all be forced to listen to __________.

    It doesn’t end. So long as being insulted is subjective, you’ll never find anything that appeals to everyone. So in light of that, you appeal to your demographic, which, it seems they are quite well.

  31. @Islingtonian: For a second I thought you meant that your dad worked for the bank and the bank’s customers were hearing “Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta” which would have been much funnier (yet appropo).

  32. kerry says:

    A few months ago I had dinner at a very fancy, but very iconoclastic (for lack of a better term) restaurant run by a few young chefs. Rather than the usual ambient/techno/jazzy kind of music that just fades into the background, they were playing Dr. Dre. I found it refreshing.
    As for hold music, if you’re so terrified you might hear something profane, don’t pay attention. Pull the phone away from your ear so you can tell the difference between music and “hello? hello?” and do something else. Nobody is forcing your brain to pay attention to the lyrics.

  33. kracer22 says:

    I vote for Akinele’s “put in your mouth” as hold music..LOL
    Theres a reason there’s parental advisory labels on cds/games.. there are some things kids should not be exposed to.

  34. timmus says:

    Well you could go with a compromise… about ten years ago my cousin worked in Ingram Park Mall in San Antonio and heard a Muzak cover of “Smoking In The Boys Room”. Hey, maybe you can get one for N.W.A.

  35. rodeobob says:

    Mostly, it takes more work to think of in appropriate hold music than it does what might be acceptable. And to be really offensive, it would have to be highly contextualized. (using Nirvana’s Rape Me” at a women’s crisis line, or “Don’t Fear the Reaper” for a suicide-prevention hotline)

  36. Bay State Darren says:

    What if it was a police officer (or family member) having to hear that when trying to order pizza? Sure, they’ve heard that song before, but does Mad Pizza think that playing it will want to make them stay on the line and give the restaurant money? It’s not like there aren’t many other pizza places to order from. “Fuck (you and your profession)” is not the message to send to any group of potential customers.

  37. RandomHookup says:

    Guess they won’t be catering the next FOP meeting.

  38. kaikhor says:

    I don’t mind most hold music, but I work for a wholesale distributor of knives and some of our vendors music drives me crazy because it’s the same over and over and usually it’s an ad for the company I’m calling. I usually want to scream after hearing the same ad for the 5th time in a row after having heard it the previous 4 days as well.

    I had a really funny one the other day though. One company I called had their ad playing and since it was only 8 and I wasn’t too bored yet, I listened. I was at first slightly annoyed that I was listening to their Christmas/Holiday music, until I heard them say that they planned on making 2005 and beyond just as great. Then I just cracked up and once I was finished with my business let them know so they could change it.

  39. bostonguy1010 says:

    Hey anything to keep my attention while I’m holding. How many times has everyone drifted away only to have the person on the other line have to wake you up yelling hello 3 or 4 times.

    Personally I think I’d laugh my butt off, and if I liked the pizza (ok even if I didn’t) I’d call back just to see what they played next.

  40. skadus says:


    At the office building I work at in Houston I’ve heard “Paint It Black” muzak-style in the elevator area on my floor a few times lately. It always makes me chuckle.

  41. This makes me think of a wonderful article about Muzakâ„¢ from the New Yorker. It’s absolutely worth the read.

  42. I have heard a Muxak version of ‘Like A Virgin’ more than once in my local grocery store.

    It, too, cracks me up.

  43. Indecision says:

    @Peeved Guy: “My first thought was, “No! No profanity..”, blah, blah, blah.”

    Honestly, that was my first reacton, too. But then I realized that, if I called a pizza place and this was their hold music, I’d probably call them back the next time I wanted pizza, too.

    But then, I’m a 25 year old male.

    Also, I’m trying to convince my boss that we need some Tiny Tim tracks for our hold music where I work.

  44. balthisar says:

    I detest *all* hold music. Cell phone networks never dedicate enough bandwidth for their digitized hold music signal, so it always breaks up and sounds horrible. I don’t mean bandpass, either, but the actual amount of digital data to transmit most music just doesn’t fit.

  45. cde says:

    So they are forcing you to listen to that music on hold? With a gun? Or maybe a knife? Pencil Point? If you “need” to talk to them, then hang up and go talk to them in person then.

    @Rectilinear Propagation: How do you do the quote thing?

  46. Chicago7 says:

    I don’t want to hear ANYTHING on hold. That way, I can put the phone on speaker and the first time I hear something, I can pick up.

  47. shiznannigan says:

    Most hold music seems to feature sounds and insturments that sound awful through a telephone speaker, such has high-pitched tones and flutes. I’ve had to hold the phone away from my ear and wince with more than a few calls. Some NWA would be a welcome change.

    For the “What if _____ calls” people, is it really that big a deal? Children usually don’t order pizzas (Many delivery drivers won’t allow minors to pay for it anyways). And if a cop calls, oh well. I would hope that the men and women charged with protecting our communities aren’t going to get all butt-hurt every time some old song tells them something they don’t agree with.

  48. Trai_Dep says:

    If I didn’t mind cold pizza (I live in LA), I’d order a pie from these folks just for their hold music.

    I’m fairly eclectic, but demand authentic music. Most of which doesn’t make it to radio, let alone hold music stations.

    I stopped ordering from Papa John’s because their pizza stank after they lost their lawsuit, and – equally – their hold music was a HORRIBLE blaring of infomercials urging callers to upsell to more Papa John’s stuff. Grrr. So no more $$, Papa John.

  49. BFD!

    I personally think it would awesome to hear NWA as hold music. I might actually enjoy being on hold for a change. As the generations change, tastes change. Surely my generation (I’m 28), is going to want hear music of it’s era in restaurants, elevators, on hold etc.

    As far as kids … well, fuck the kids. Kids have heard that kind of language before, most likely from their parents. Deal with it. They are only words. If words hurt you, you must be awfully fragile.

  50. And to add to that … Don’t get upset about words. Don’t hate words. You know what you should hate? Weakness, racism, terrorism, abusive spouses, child molesters etc.

    Don’t hate language!

  51. Slytherin says:

    Well, at least it wasn’t Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”

  52. Bay State Darren says:

    @shiznannigan: Yes, but the message “Fuck (you)” ain’t likely gonna win those cop dollars. BTW, I know most cops are thick-skinned enough to blow this off. I’m just saying that “Fuck (any category of potential customers]” is just really awful customer relationship strategy in general. If I ran a business, I could set my on-hold message to say “Fuck da Consumerist posters and commenters.” I may not mean anything by it and it’d probably entertain more than offend (and probably get an article here), but it’d still be just really stupid to insult potential customers, period.

  53. smallestmills says:

    Good. Maybe people should be offended. They should sue Mad Pizza because “What if a 12 year old bishop who’s also a cop called and was insulted?” Maybe Mad Pizza is happy with a small but wise-eared customer base. It may not be wise, but who wants to make pizza for easily offended people? Maybe they’ll read these comments and decide not to listen to NWA anymore, lest they offend Public Enemy.

  54. MentalDisconnect says:

    My dad’s a cop, I doubt he’d care. I think however we both agree a better choice of song would be “Fuck the Lawyers”. Someone has to have made that song.

  55. @BII: “The company I work for now uses classical music in the stores”

    This is such a brutal abuse of classical music. For God’s sake, use Kenny G. That’s why God created him. Don’t destroy Mahler or Liszt because you (general you) think classical music makes good “background” music because you don’t understand it! ARGH!

  56. Brazell says:

    @XopherMV: It’s funny that somebody from such a cultured place, like Seattle — that apparently invented cool — is so ignorant of the rest of the world.

  57. Bay State Darren says:

    @MentalDisconnect: What, and get sued to oblivion?

  58. XopherMV says:

    @MichaelBrazell: I’m not sure what or who you mean by “ignorant of the rest of the world”.

    If you were referring to me, then it is you who are speaking out of ignorance. As an Army brat, I was born in Washington, DC. I grew up in New York, Missouri, Texas, New Mexico, California, Washington state, and Germany. Sometimes I lived in a big city, sometimes in a suburb, and sometimes in the country. I graduated high school in California. I attended college in Texas and Washington state.

    So, when I speak of different places or regions, I speak from actual knowledge – not ignorance. The fictional town of Hicksville, Mississippi, certainly referenced all of Mississippi, but could include the entire South. I mentioned the banning of Dungeons and Dragons and teen dances because that actually happened. Those policies were pushed by Christian conservatives.

    Now, if you’re not referring to me, who exactly were you referring to?

  59. royal72 says:

    lol, this reminds me of a trashed high school friend who crashed his car trying to chase down some idiot who was talking shit (not the sharpest tool in the shed)… anyway, as he’s getting stitches in his head, the cop makes small talk before taking him off to jail and asked asked him what music he was listening to before crashing and he replies “nwa, fuck the police”.

  60. Buran says:

    @trai_dep: What lawsuit was that?

  61. KenManiac says:

    i think there should be a law that ALL hold music has to be “The Taco Bell Cannon”, by that dead guy Taco Bell.

    you remember when that song was on every other TV commercial? one reason i don’t watch TV anymore.

    the worst music, i find, is classic rock. soft jazz i can ignore, but ‘Stairway to Hotel Freebird” just makes me insane. do we really need to hear it again? do you really need to play a song that EVEROBODY knows ALL the words to? I thought that listening to your parents music WASN’T cool?


  62. FLConsumer says:

    If I had to listen to any form/sort of rap music whilst on hold, I’d immediately hang up, regardless of the content.

    Best on-hold music I’ve ever heard goes to the FAA bureau in Miami, FL which had “The Best of Jimmy Buffett” on hold…including, “Why don’t we get drunk and screw.” Alas, they took it off about 2-3 years ago, which is a shame. Made waiting the file a flight plan a bit more enjoyable.

  63. bnissan97 says:

    Who really cares what the hold music is? The song referenced in this blog; well that is just one of those you have fun with. “Oh my-guess what the hold music is? HA HA”

    If you don’t like the hold music you can always take your business elsewhere.

    Perhaps if it were something other or more professional than a pizza joint just say to the employee, “did you know what your hold music is playing …” and leave it at that.

  64. arachnophilia says:

    this makes me want to buy pizza from them.

  65. Michael says:

    @justatwork: “tolerance is a two way street” is a rather curious justification for calling someone else’s music “degrading, obscene, and violent”.

  66. FLConsumer says:

    @Bon Jour, Pee Wee: Too bad they’re not using Richard Cheese’s version of Like a Virgin… if they’re going to smother us with background music, it might as well be humerous.

  67. Wormfather says:

    Once upon a time I was an Assistant Manager for a Starbucks, one day I figured how to jimmy the tape deck so it would play music using that discman to tape casset hookup thingy (you know the one we all had in our cars before you got a cd player in the dash). Anyway, lets just say Stabucks’ corporate mix of Sarah Mc(whatever) and Elton John was not the music played on my shifts.

    I always did like seeing the customers faces when at 5:45AM they walked in to techno music.

  68. MostNutsEver says:

    Lets hear some dead prez next time….that will ruffle some feathers!

    “…And it don’t stop till we get these crackers off our block!”

    //I’m white
    //dead prez is great

  69. @cde: There is a blockquote tag: [blockquote] [/blockquote] but use angle brackets (

  70. boughy says:

    I personally really like NWA and this song (to a point). But the message is horrible. Songs that promote hate, violence, and/or killing people I think that really isn’t the message anyone should send to anyone, and if they like to listen to it keep it to yourself for the most part (try at least). I know they are just making pizzas and not sending “messages” but this negative crap is everywhere. Isn’t that kind of the issue with the world today. A general lack of respect for people and things. I love the idea of different hold music but NWA has a bunch of other songs that are great and don’t need to be sprung on people as they order a pizza. I think the song selection is poor but the idea as a whole is great.

  71. Leningrad says:

    I’m going to go ahead and say that I prefer the Wu-Tang to NWA, myself, but that people need to stop being so scared of foul language. Wah waaah wah. It’s a pizza place.

  72. glitterpig says:

    Heh. One time I brought some CDs to listen to while doing some server work over the weekend. The next weekend, I was back, but my CDs were missing. On Monday, I asked my boss if he’d seen them, and he said, “oh, the new holiday music? I put it in the changer.” As in, the CD changer that played our company’s hold music. I don’t remember everything our customers were treated to for a week, but I do know it included both Clutch and the Butthole Surfers.

    Nobody complained. Maybe they were just happy not to be subjected to endless repeats of Frosty the Snowman and Feliz Navidad?

  73. RulesLawyer says:

    My best hold experience ever was back in the mid 1990s. I think it was around the time Windows 95 came out, and I had to call MS tech support for something. Their hold music actually had a live DJ, who told us what songs were coming up next, and how long the wait in each hold queue was: “Word 6 people have about a 12 minute wait. And you people in the Windows 95 line? Ouch. At least 72 minutes to go.” I don’t even remember what the music was, but that was very cool.

  74. Bay State Darren says:

    After “Fuck da police” (this thread encourages a fun F-bomb count), maybe they should play “One in a Million” by Guns N’ Roses? Since shock value seems to be all that matters.

  75. @RulesLawyer: Funny. Is it awesome or sad that there’s a hold music dj?

  76. laborer says:

    “Papercutninja says:

    Soft Jazz is not music. It’s hot garbage. There has not been any jazz created in the last 40 years that doesn’t sound like noisy, too-cool-for-the-room dreck. I’m glad they used NWA.”

    friend, we should probably acknowledge the clear distinction between smooth jazz (predominantly synth music, programmed on a computer) and jazz (predominantly saxophone, a wind instrument designed centuries ago that emulates dying geese).

    though i do fancy “too-cool-for-the-room” music, i admittedly do have NWA on my iPod (variety calms me).

    peace! *dropz mic*

  77. Bay State Darren says:

    @laborer: There has not been any jazz created in the last 40 years that doesn’t sound like noisy, too-cool-for-the-room dreck. Gotta argue with you. Modern ‘jazz’ does suck (what the hell ever happened to improvisation?! It’s one of the esential elements of jazz!). But not all the of the last forty years. Miles Davis’ seventies material is absolutely incredible (although though definitetly not for all tastes.)

  78. laborer says:

    @Bay State Darren: not to turn yet another NWA+pizza topic into a jazz argument…

    i agree, the essential elements of jazz being improvisation, with no help from computers, and so on. however, this does not negate the distinction between “jazz” and “smooth jazz”, regardless of how inappropriate that label may be.

    i’ve never heard of “Soft Jazz” as Papercutninja calls it… if he/she meant to say “smooth jazz”, i disagree, as it is very appropriate hold music. if they are referring to real jazz, i agree – it probably isn’t the most appropriate hold music… unless, of course, i was living a hundred years ago on a southern swamp where blowing air through pipes sounds appealing for lack of anything better to do.

    oopz, did i say that out loud? perhaps i should improvise less…

  79. fizzball says:

    Years ago when I was toiling in HR, I had to recruit a candidate from WMS (Williams), the video game company. Their on-hold music was from their then-hot product, Mortal Kombat. Seriously, spines being ripped out to cool techno. I was disappointed once the guy finally picked up.

  80. VidaLondres says:

    I had an awful time with hold music a few weeks ago. I was calling Torrid’s customer service line, and they played Fall Out Boy at me. And then My Chemical Romance. And then something I couldn’t identify, but it still sucked. This maybe could have been managable if I weren’t on hold for over 20 minutes.

    This is what I get for calling Hot Topic, I suppose…

  81. justinatmadpizza says:


    My name is Justin. I’m the Director of operations for mad pizza. I would like to start off by apologizing for the choice of on hold music. This is a new store and new employees. They did not realize that the music played on the in store satellite radio is the same music that the people on hold listen to. They assumed because they were alone in the restaurant that it would be OK. I myself had to hold back some laughter at this. After all like more then one responder said “this is Seattle”. But in all seriousness I am sorry if this offended anyone and can assure you that ALL employees have been informed about this.

    thank you.
    Justin at madpizza