Word to Lauren on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams/Wonderwall mashup. I am all too familiar with this atrocity--for some mysterious reason my favorite radio station, live 105, decided it had repeat listenability and played it all last summer, as if it were an actual song. I would always groan loudly whenever the opening chords came on, hoping maybe someone at the radio station would hear me and terminate the mashup's career. It seemed to me that just because somebody was able to find two songs that meshed together well enough to be played simultaneously was not a good enough reason to listen to them.
Clearly, I was not seduced by the allure of the mashup at first. But where this song fails, I think the artist Girl Talk seriously succeeds. Girl Talk is a guy named Gregg Gillis who specializes in mashups, but really unique ones: he uses pieces of at least 12 different songs in each track. In the song "Smash Your Head," which the above link takes you to, he samples 15 songs, artists ranging from Elton John to Beyonce to Public Enemy. And most of his tracks still manage to be really cohesive and fun to listen to (and dance to!) He's even going to be at the huge Coachella music festival this year, performing live with his laptop. I think his music brings the genre of mashup to a different level. While most mashups function by virtue of being recognizable and reminiscient of their originials, his songs slice up the originals to create something totally different. He's not just superimposing two songs on each other; he uses bits and pieces of certain songs to add depth and variety to his mashups, like including just one little riff from Fall Out Boy's "Sugar, We're Going Down" to accent parts of "Smash Your Head." When someone composes an original melody, he or she is really just working with permutations--the order of the tones. There are seven notes, plus their sharps and flats, and that's it. It's the order of the notes that makes a melody interesting. Girl Talk's mashups are so layered and complex that it's kind of as if he's using other songs as his keyboard, and working with perfecting the permutations. He's not just trying to find stuff that fits together easily; he's making original stuff, but with a different palette of colors. At least, that's my opinion.
I watched all of the top ten mash up movie trailers, and I have to say it's hard to compare those to song mashups because I don't think they're really mashups in the same sense. All of the clips in each one come from the actual movie, they're just cut and pasted differently. There aren't two or more originals spliced to make them seem like one. In Must Love Jaws, there are no clips from Must Love Dogs. Only from Jaws. Just the title is a mashup. In Ten Things I Hate About Commandments, there are no clips from Ten Things I Hate About You. There's teen movie music, but no spliced visuals. The Seinfeld clip used visuals from news reports and Michaels Richards' f-ed up comedy routine. That's pretty close to being a mashup, although it is the same man in the two different shows, so it's easier to make them seem like one. I'm sure there are some true mashup movie trailers on youtube, if anyone has suggestions.
Damn it, I should have done a blog post solely composed of pieces of other peoples' blogs. Oh well, too late now.