Wednesday, January 24, 2007

This post is so long that it's kind of like two posts mashed up into each other

(Click for bigger image.)

I remember the first time I ever heard a mashup. It was a mixture of Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and Oasis's "Wonderwall." My friend Amy and I talked about it for days. We thought it was the greatest thing ever. It took two overrated, unoriginal songs and crunched them into one, showing just how overrated and unoriginal they really were. These songs were so similar that they could be merged into one song without even changing the chord progression. A DJ (probably Party Ben) created a purely derivative song, and in doing so, mocked the derivative quality of modern popular music. Genius, Amy and I thought. Genius.

Unfortunately I think we may have read a little too much into it.

These days I hear mashups all the damn time, and they don't strike me as brilliant parodies anymore. When I hear a creative one, I think, "Hmm, that's kinda cool," and that's about it. In fact, I don't know if I can really even apply the adjective "creative" to them, because mashups aren't really creations so much as combinations. I'm rarely interested enough to finish a whole mashup song. Also, if you don't know the original songs that are being used, it's impossible to appreciate the mashup. Otherwise, it sort of just sounds like hip-hop that samples older songs, which I also think is pretty much lamesauce (remember Vanilla Ice arguing that "Ice Ice Baby" was different from Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure" because it had a single additional note in the half-count before the bass riff started? UGGGHHH).

So yeah, I'm not the biggest fan of mashups. I was particularly unimpressed by "Question" by the Kleptones. It somehow took Queen, the Mooninites from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and The Big Lebowski, and made them boring. How can you make those three tremendous things boring? That requires talent. There wasn't even the novelty factor of thinking, "Hey, this guitar riff from this one song seems to coincide with this drum beat from this other song!" It didn't even require good DJ skills. It was just speech over music. Although...maybe it picked up and got interesting after the halfway mark. I don't know; I didn't make it that far.

Okay, so I'm calming down a little, and I would like to say that even though I don't really see the point of mashup songs, I do enjoy those doctored movie trailers, and the Art Ads were very funny. Brokeback to the Future has been on my bookmark list for a long time. The trailers seem to be able to go beyond the novelty factor to the level of pop-culture mockery more successfully than the songs, probably because they force you to re-imagine the movie more fully than mashups force you to reimagine their songs of origin. And although I think that the Art Ads (as well as the Rock 'n' Ren, Sport Ren, and Modern Ren galleries on the same Worth 1000 site) are created mostly for the novelty factor, when taken together they do make a statement about pop culture.

But, so, well, I don't really know how I feel about this medium. Its main goal is novelty and at its best, it's satirical. I like satire as much as the next cynical misanthrope of a college student, but maybe to be really worthwhile, a medium needs to be more than satirical every now and again. Mashups are fun, but I don't really think they're going to change the world.

But maybe everyone else feels differently, and I am some sort of dissenting freak, which is kinda what happened with the Electronic Literature stuff last week. Dismissing things is easy; I'd like to be persuaded.


Allan Vol Phillips said...

See, I would have to argue that Wonderwall is the single greatest song ever written, sung and recorded.

Lauren said...

If by Wonderwall, you mean Bohemian Rhapsody! =P