Mash this!

“Have you heard this crazy song?” the driver said to us sitting in the backseat of his car.

He slowly turned up the volume and yelled “It’s pretty awesome!” For moment all I could hear was the familiar “duh duh duh duuuh” rhythm of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. It took a moment for Kayne West’s “Gold Digger” to register. And as I listened further, I realized that I wasn’t listened to Beethoven’s classic wasn’t playing at all, but rather it was “A Fifth of Beethoven,” a less than favorite off of an otherwise great album, Saturday Night Fever.

The song concluded and our friend asked “Pretty cool, huh?”

Someone in the car responded “What was that?”

“A mashup,” came the simple answer, followed by “this station plays them all the time.”

And so it began.

I’m not one to dick around with music. When I hear something that I like, I don’t waste time filing the song title away in my memory banks. I impetuously rush out and learn everything I can about said song/artist. I tumble hard down the information well until there’s nothing left to do but listen. And though A Plus D‘s “Beethoven’s Fifth Gold Digger” wasn’t an immediate hit with my senses (I much prefer Lenlow‘s “Kayne Mahna” as far as “Gold Digger” mashups are concerned), the genre as a whole was. I immediately fell in love with the idea of cobbling together parts from two or more songs in order to create something new. In a way, mashups made pop music, something I railed against a decade ago, much more accessible and likeable. They also provided me with easy ways to discover new music and artists. A number of my recent musical purchases have been inspired by snippets of songs I heard in mashups, which include the likes of Lady Gaga and the Scissor Sisters, acts that I would have ignored if it hadn’t been for mashups.

Whittling down the number of mashups I’ve gathered over the years to a few highlights is no easy task. And because new mashups are always out there waiting to be found (like, I JUST found Faroff’s Gangnam Busters, much to my delight and horror), my number one changes from week to week. But here’s a selection of five (plus five honorable mentions) favorites that usually end up in frequent rotation. They run a gamut of genres and styles, though they are all pretty firmly rooted in pop past and present. If you’ve got a favorite mashup, please share it in the comments! I’m always looking to add to my collection.

*****

“Since You Been Rosenrot” — Kelly Clarkson vs. Rammstein (DJ Schmolli)
I couldn’t help but laugh when I first saw this mashup listed online. I mean, seriously? Pop princess combined with industrial? There was just no way…{turned on song}…oh…{listened further}…now that ain’t half bad! What I like best about this song is how “Rosenrot” lends a good bit of sinister strength to Clarkson’s words.

 *****

“Stayin’ Hot” — Nelly vs. Bee Gees (DJ Lobsterdust)
I defy anyone to not bop around while listening to this song. Go ahead…I dare you. While Nelly’s not exactly my cup of tea (or, let’s be honest, bottle of water in the desert), he’s made completely palatable here thanks to the awesome backing of the Bee Gees.

*****

“Galvanize the Empire” — Chemical Brothers vs. John Williams (Party Ben)
There are a few mashup artists who work well in combining the old with the new, such as Party Ben.  “The Imperial March” is my favorite Star Wars theme, and here Party Ben does some masterful mixing, using it mostly as a bass line underneath The Chemical Brother’s “Galvanize.”

*****

“Crazy Logic” — Gnarls Barkley vs. Supertramp vs. Rockwell (Arty Fufkin)
Another fantastic example of injecting  a little new school spirit into some old school songs. I love how this song starts in like you think you’re going to be listening to “Logical Song” by Supertramp, and then, within just a few seconds, in drops Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” It’s brilliant. And the addition of Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me” later in the song is like icing on the cake.

*****

“Stairway to Bootleg Heaven” (DJ Earworm)
DJ Earworm is probably best know for his “State of Pop” mashups in which he combines dozens of a year’s top songs into a conglomeration of AWESOME. His mashups are difficult, technical, and beautiful.  They evolve and flow between genres and feelings over the course of mere minutes, and “Stairway to Bootleg Heaven” is a perfect example of this.

*****

And finally, the honorable mentions:
I’m in Love with Judas Priest” — Lady Gaga vs. Judas Priest (Wax Audio)
Sexy Twilight Back” — Justin Timberlake vs. 2 Unlimited (Pheugoo)
Toop Toop Groove” — Madonna vs. Cassius (Loo & Placido)
Sweet Dreams are Made of Seven Nation Army” — Eurythmics vs. White Stripes (DJ Poly)
Folsom Prison Gangstaz” — Easy-E vs. Johnny Cash (DJ Topcat)

————

Like what you’ve just read? Cary posts to Geek Force Network every Friday; and you can also find more words that she put together in paragraphs at Recollections of Play and United We Game.

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