Sunday, January 09, 2005

And Speaking Of Mash-Ups... 

If you're like me -- and who isn't, really -- you occasionally hear one song's lyrics in the chord progressions of another. I've found myself singing "Back in the USSR" under my breath to the Nirvana in my headphones, for example. Once, on stage at the Boston Hard Rock Cafe with old-and-long-defunct Not Earthshaking, I brought a Monkees riff into the end of our hit, just to tickle the stagestruck bandmates a bit. This tendency towards internal mix-master playfulness seems to date back to the moment I realized that "Baa Baa Black Sheep," "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," and "The Alphabet Song" have the same exact tune.

For years, I figured this love of mangled music was a rare and subjective phenomenon, though perhaps more common to those (like me) who spent their Jewish suburbanite adolescence attending weekend retreats wherein Jewish standard Adon Olam is sung to the latest pop tune. But in the new world of digital ownership and increasingly loose, individualized approaches to intellectual property, it should come as no surprise that the premise-in-question has emerged as an officially-titled new genre, the mash-up, complete with an aboveground-legitimizing feature in this week's New Yorker.

All seem to agree that the groundbreaking work of DJ Danger Mouse's Gray Album, while prototypical, wasn't much musically-speaking. But the genre's getting good as it builds. Current personal faves include Freelance Hellraiser's current gold-standard Strokes vs. Christina Aguilera mashup A Stroke of Genius, Go Home Productions' smooth Crowded House vs. Snoop mix, and two vastly different Destiny's Child mashups: the obviously-titled Smells Like Bootylicious and the equally obviously-titled Bootystition. Those interested in more will find download sites referenced in The New Yorker article a good place to begin; I'm also finding Mashmix a useful site for classics and newer releases alike.

In summary: given the way it serves the biases and headvoices of the post-millenium generation, expect the mashup to go far.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:15 PM |

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