The Art of the Music Mashup

Part of what I love about our GWC community is that it is a place to share and learn about things you may have never heard of or would never have given a chance unless someone you knew recommended it. In that spirit I want to share with you something that I find outrageously awesome: Music Mashups.

The highest compliment I can give is to say it is clever. To be clever is to find and explore a nuance in such a way that one creates something new and unexpected. Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is an incredibly clever telling of the story behind the story of Hamlet. Neil Gaiman's The Sandman is clever for its effortless weaving together of history, myth and literature. Joss Whedon's Doctor Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog turns the concept of a musical on its head and creates a brand new genre.

There is an artform in music called the mashup that you may not be aware of that has captured a niche of the internet. A mashup is exactly what it sounds like: it is the interweaving of two or more songs to create something new and unique. Those of you who watch Glee have an idea of what I am talking about, although I would argue they haven't achieved a quality execution of a mashup. When a mashup is done well they are a revelation and when they are done poorly they are a train wreck.

The following combination of "Come on Eileen" and "Mama Said Knock you Out" is an excellent example of a mashup done incredibly well.

The reason this example stands out to me is how perfectly these two completely tonally  different songs not only overlay so perfectly you almost convince yourself they were created specifically for this purpose. Out there, somewhere is a person who one day was listening to one of these songs and somehow realized how similar it was to the other one and after some deft editing a mashup was born.

Why do I think Glee hasn't quite figured out the mashup? To date Glee's approach has been to literally graft one song onto the other so that there is no blend, no interweave but have taken more of a trading lyrics approach.

Compare Glee's approach with Straight No Chaser's mashup of "I'm Yours" and "Somewhere over the Rainbow"

They snuck "Somewhere over the Rainbow" in the middle completely unexpectedly and yet completely seamlessly. Can you imagine if you were in a concert and heard this live? You would be enjoying a good cover of "I'm Yours" and they sneak in "Over the Rainbow"? Admittedly, not a complete mashup but skillfully done nonetheless.

I hope you have enjoyed your introduction to this musical subgenre born of the internet. Please share any links to mashups that you find particularly clever or entertaining. I leave you with two more excellent examples for your enjoyment.

Smells Like Rockin' Robin by Go Home Productions

Will Will Rock You vs Hey Ya! by DJflip2

One Response to "The Art of the Music Mashup"
  1. Baconface says:

    Great post Solai! I am obsessed with mashups/sampling at the moment. I listen to a lot os Rock/Rap mashups when working out. What I like the most is that really talented artists can take a familiar song or goups of
    songs and create an entirely new piece of work. If you are into that kind of music, I highly recommend GirlTalk’s “Feed the Animals” and DJ Shadow’s “Endtroducing…”.

    Another artist I like that uses more rock samples than rap, is djearworm. You can google him and check out some of his work at his website. He is really known for his mashups of the 25 top songs of the previous year. The 2009 mashup is my personal fav.


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