Thursday, February 5, 2009

The art of "Mash-Ups"

Mash-Up - 1.(verb) To take elements of two or more pre-existing pieces of music and combine them to make a new song. 2.(noun) A song comprised of elements of two or more pre-existing pieces of music.

Mash-Ups seem to be gaining popularity, and some will tell you that this "Art" became popular after the infamous Gray Album, which was DJ Danger Mouse's mix between Jay Z's Black Album and The Beatles White Album. However Mash Up's have been around for a very very long time.

The art of using someone's art as an inspiration has been around forever, however, using actual clips of music to create a new art is kinda like an audio collage.

The First Commercially known "Mash-Up" was in 1956 with Bill Buchanan and Dickie Goodman's song "The Flying Saucer". This song was the bastard child of the Orson Well's Radio broadcast of "War of the Worlds" and music to create a kind of satire of the whole ordeal. The "song" was pretty famous at the time, but quickly died over the course of the year.

However, the legality, and the debate of originality of a song came with Vanilla Ice's - Ice Ice Baby. The song undoubtedly uses the instrumental of Queen's Under Pressure. (Even though Vanilla Ice stated that he used an extra quarter note or something)

comic from

Many artist have sampled other artists songs, and a ton of rap artist have used riff's and beats from other songs as their instrumental tracks. (one example of this is from P.Diddy, or Diddy or Whatever he calls himself these days, he used the main riff from Led Zeppelin's 1975 hit 'Kashmir' on his song 'Come With Me' featured in the movie Godzilla) These have all been early forms of mash-ups.

However, When The Grey Album came out in 2004 it seemed like everyone was jumping on the bandwagon and as a result Mash-Ups have never been the same. Dj's like Dj BC and A plus D are explicitly famous for creating mash up's. Danger Mouse is now a phenomenal artist that has appeared on Danger Doom, and is in the group Gnarls Barkley, all while still producing albums for artist such as the Gorillaz and the Black Keys.

Mash-Up artists have helped create a new line of clubs that play only mash-ups, I speak of Bootie which is rapidly becoming a Huge Sensation. Every year Bootie compiles the best mash-ups and puts out a best of album, available free at their website. This is a good quick way hear some of today's Mash-Up's.

Today's most popular Dj's that are on the indie circuit, Master Masher's if you will, are Girl Talk and Norwegian Recycling. Girl Talk typically is a "dancier" Mash-Up Artist that is well known for mixing TONS of well known songs together to form a new song. Sometimes, Girl Talk is fun to listen to just to see how many songs you can recognize, while Norwegian Recycling typically mixes a couple of songs into a seamless progression. Both are good to listen to, and I urge everyone to look at this new art form and rediscover your favorite songs in ways you have never even dreamed of.

Here are some tracks to get you started:

Norwegian Recycling - A Twist Of Kanye
buy Norwegian Recycling

Dj Earworm - If I Were A Free Falling Boy (Tom Petty vs. Beyonce)
Get the album

Girl Talk - Playing Your Part (Part 1.)

buy Girl Talk

Jay Zeezer - Say It Ain't December 4th

get the album

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