Mashups. The weapon of choice for agitating a particular kind of music snob or purist. A good mashup can appeal to fans and non-fans of the source material. A great mashup combines the recognisable ingredients to create something new.
The explosion of mashup coincided with and was entirely dependent on both easier-to-use music editing software becoming readily available, and the limitless distribution the web provided.
Dorian Lynskey wrote a great piece for the Guardian about a decade of mashup and the influence mashups had on the music creation and consumption that followed. The mashup he centres his story around is a great place to start.
1. Freelance Hellraiser – A Stroke of Genius.
It’s an almost perfect simple ‘A/B’ mashup: vocals from one song (Christina Aguilera’s infectious Genie in a Bottle) on top of music from another (The Strokes’ Hard to Explain).
2. DJ Schmolli – In The Mood For Some Killing
Some mashups, especially some A/Bs, make the listener wonder how on earth the creator imagined the two components would work together, such is their contrast in genre or style.
This is one of the most mindbending mashups I’ve ever heard. Perhaps it was a random accident on a shuffled playlist, or just the mashup artists’ constant search for the most unlikely combination imaginable, that led DJ Schmolli to the discovery that Zack de la Rocha’s most well-known tirade, Killing in the Name, would be hilariously well accompanied by the original Glenn Miller Orchestra’s 1940 chart topper, In the Mood.
3. DJ Tripp – Express This Way
When Lady Gaga released Born This Way it created quite a stir, so similar it was to Madonna’s Express Yourself. Madonna herself weighed in earlier this year.
DJ Tripp squashed them together to give listeners the best of both, and a great illustration of the never-ending feedback loop of pop music.
4. DJ Zebra – Come Closer
Mashups let us play fantasy supergroup. What would happen if some of your favourite artists got together in the studio one night and combined their talents? What sort of mayhem would ensue?
I like to imagine that if somehow Trent Reznor joined the Beatles at Abbey Road in July of 1969, the result might have been something like this masterpiece from DJ Zebra.
5. Girl Talk – Feed the Animals
Girl Talk creates entire compositions using only the sounds other people recorded. The laziest way to DJ a party is to put Feed the Animals on and let it run.
He cherry picks rap, hip hop, pop, rock and any number of sub-genres, never holding a sample for more than about 30 seconds. The result is pure essence of fun.
Photo: Parker Michael Knight