Mix Six: “Mashups”

Written by Mix Six, Music

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Last week, I was trying to figure out the awkwardly titled decade called “The 2000s.”  Yes, there’s been an A.D.D. quality to the last 10 years, but it could also be argued that there’s also a postmodern current flowing underneath all those mini-trends that came and went so fast they didn’t say goodbye. If I may be so bold as to throw another musical novelty borne out of the proliferation of cheap multitrack audio software into this decade, it would be the mashup.  I think the first time I heard  a kind of mashup was with the release of the Small Soldiers soundtrack.  Just a few years later, people wouldn’t need recording studios to do what the DJs where able to do on that soundtrack — and I’m thinking specifically of the “Love Is a Battlefield” Kay Gee remix with Queen Latifah and Pat Benatar.  Nowadays, it’s clear that ProTools can do wonders, and the more people with time and interest on their hands delve into what new musical forms they can weave into familiar songs, the more the original songs take on new and interesting twists when mashed up together.  Having tried to do my own version of a mashup called “the smashup” — where I smashed covers of certain songs together — I know the time and dedication it takes to put these mixes together.  So, here we go with a mix from some very creative individuals who clearly have talented ears and great skills with a multitrack recorder.

Rick James vs Queen

“Tie Your Superfreak Down,” Mad Mix Mustang (download)

I don’t know much about Mad Mix Mustang other than he (or she) lives in the Netherlands, has this website, and you can follow his (or her) updates on Twitter.  The personal stuff doesn’t really matter, though. What I love about this mashup is how Mad Mix Mustang can take such a funky song like “Superfreak” and hear that Rick James’ vocal phrasing fits quite nicely with the straight ahead rock of Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down.”

Mad Mix Mustang

“Smells Like Love (Twice),” Mad Mix Mustang (download)

Not only does Mad Mix Mustang make more musical magic (how’s that for alliteration!) with this mashup, but he features two performers who both checked out of this thing we call life rather early.  So, whether it was by accident or design, this mashup has an extra layer of meaning that could make for a cool academic footnote in some pop cultural journal.

Chili Peppers and Ting Tings

“Shut Up Now,” DJ Lobsterdust (download)

The robotic disco sounds of the Ting Tings was fun when they recorded “Shut Up and Let Me Go.”  However, Anthony Kiedis sounds surprisingly at home in this mashup by DJ Lobsterdust –  and his vocals add a looser sense of groove to the Ting Tings music.

Just Dance to New Order

“Just Dance to New Order,” DJ Earworm (download)

Lady GaGa is such a slave to the ’80s that pairing her with New Order is kind of a no-brainer.  But DJ Earworm does not one but four times better by mashing up “Just Dance” with “Confusion” by New Order and throwing in Dirty Ol’ Bastard, Mary J. Blige, Debelah Morgan and, yes, Queen into the mix.

Iron Monkees

“The Trooper Believer, ” DJ Schmolli (download)

Now this mashup is just plain funny. DJ Schmolli has a good ear (as do all the DJs featured here, really) for vocal phrasing.  I mean, never in my life would I think to mashup “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees with an Iron Maiden single that came out in 1983.  But, it must take a really good memory for vocal styles and whimsical music tracks to put something like this together.

Dean Gray

“Whatshername (Susanna Hoffs),” Dean Gray (download)

One of the most popular mashups for not only the obvious love Party Ben (who worked at Live 105 in San Francisco — the local alternative rock radio station) and Neil Mason of team9 had for Green Day’s American Idiot, but because right after the release of this collection of mashups, Warner Bros. shut down their website with a cease and desist order.  While some of the mashups on this album don’t make my ears perk up, this one does because of the wonderful back and forth Ben and Mason were able to create between Hoffs and Armstrong’s vocals — which really fills in the narrative vagaries of the “Whatshername” character in American Idiot.