o leif, where art thou?


Every once in a while an art form comes along that makes me think, “shit, if I had all the right equipment and mountains of extra time, I’d actually be pretty good at that.” This does not apply to ping-pong, pottery or suspension bridge engineering, but I think I’d actually be kick-ass at the art of the mashup. Stored in my head, in the place where the location of my car keys ought to be, is the tempo, key and rhythm of pretty much every pop song from 1964 to about 2000… with a good helping of stuff since.

Before the mashup, this kind of encyclopedic knowledge was useless, and could only function to annoy others on a long road trip, or to sap the energy of those standing near enough to me while I rant about the motherfucking Pussycat Dolls rewriting “I Will Survive” without even knowing that’s what they were doing. These days, if I were a famous DJ in the Mission District with a large, disturbed following and a hijacked copy of Cubase, I’d be revered as a god – but god knows timing is everything.

As it is, we can all sit back and enjoy the other Aspergian savants who cull these tracks together for our enjoyment. If you haven’t seen it yet, the Rickrolled version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is genius:

…as is another old mashup favorite, “Toxic Love Shack”:

I’ll always have a soft spot for anything involving the Beatles:

Of course, the day will come when my particular 40-year chunk of meticulously-annotated pop music will be shared by less and less people (assuming it hasn’t already) and there will be mashups of six different tunes, none of which I’ll know. Shit, if you look at the songs above… like “Love Shack” (1989), or the Nirvana (1991)… you’re already going back before any current college freshman was born. This is how it should be, but sometimes I feel like Tessa’s 91-year-old father, talking into a cassette recorder, listing the chords to Broadway tunes that were never to be.

We used to joke about our generations’ insatiable collection of cultural detritus, how we would remember thousands of song lyrics, board games and TV shows of our youth, all of it deemed – even by us – as useless. That wasn’t entirely true; it was always useful as an in-joke or a cultural touchstone, and there are still a few memories left that were never regurgitated and exploited by the nostalgia machine.

But there will come a time when there will be so few of us around, far too distracted with joint pain and resentment to muster a memory about things like Dynamite Magazine and spokey dokes. And then, at long last, it will be true: that heaping, neon mound of trivia will finally be completely useless. I will be in my rocker overlooking the sunset, hear some stupid dialogue on the overhead television and say “Jesus, that is so ‘Barney Miller’. Am I right? Am I right? Can I get a frickin’ AMEN around here?” And the nurse with the Jell-o will say to her supervisor, “Human Unit 793b12 is talking to himself again.”


0 thoughts on “o leif, where art thou?

  1. Chuck B.

    I have to add my favorite of the genre to your list of mash-ups worth checking out. This one by DJ Earworm — called “No One Takes Your Freedom” — combines Scissor Sisters, The Beatles, George Michael, Aretha Franklin (and maybe a couple of others). It starts off a little slow, but once it picks up, it just rocks. Plus, it hits my sweet spot for musical tastes!
    I don’t particularly love this fan-produced video of the song, but it’s the first one I found on YouTube.
    Chuck B.

  2. jason savage

    yeah, i was gonna mention the Earworm track as well. great stuff. also check out the Arbiters, particularly “Sure Side fo Fame”.

  3. littlerattyratratrat

    That Beatles/Kinks/LCS mashup is the bomb. I teach New Media tech in my intro programming courses, and when students do mashups of Obama speeches with The Grey Album, it just warms your heart.
    “What do your people do for art?”
    “We design bodies and wear them.”

  4. Salem

    Make some time for one. You owe it to your flock.
    In 1988 at the 510 E. Franklin, I can remember being so excited about my 7 second Vivaldi “Summer” intro into The Cult “Love Removal Machine”, that I didn’t mind all the girls leaving the dance floor. Now, I would reverse the mash-up. Does anyone rock harder than Vivaldi? The Baroque Bon Scott.

  5. flaco

    always enjoy a QUALITY mashup, the video remixing takes it to a whole ‘nother level of time sink!
    Spun the hell out of some dj BC’s Beastles tracks when it hit the station a few years back
    Creativity at its core: decomposition, superposition, variation

  6. Sarah

    I am currently working with a summer intern who will be a college freshman this fall. When Michael Jackson died, I realized that his generation doesn’t know MJ as anything more than an alleged child molester. That freaked me out.
    Thank goodness I have my 7-years-younger brother to keep me somewhat relevant.

  7. CM

    There should be a website where you put in two songs and it plays one out of one speaker and the other out of the other, so you can play with different mashups. Or maybe there is…
    I LOVED Dynamite Magazine. I used to submit “Bummers.” “Don’t you hate it when you walk all the way to 7-11 and you realize you forgot your money?” Etc….

  8. Tanya

    Salem, I’m with you. The Hickory Choral Society had this down years ago when it did this “mashup” of J. Pachelbel’s Cannon in D and The First Noel. I would play it during my shift on WCPE (classical station) every Christmas, and it would never fail to generate a ton of calls.

  9. T.J.

    It took me fifteen years to appreciate it, but Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique was way ahead of its time. Too bad the courts stopped that evolution of popular, professional music in its tracks.

  10. Greg T.

    Wow. Thanks for posting these – I have let mashups fall off my radar, and it appears that was a mistake.

  11. D. Drake

    Love me some MashUps! Huge cache can be found here ready for downloading.
    Some sound like the provervial “sneakers in the dryer” but there are a few gems. See:
    Beastie Boys vs. Benny Goodman
    Beyonce vs. Earnest Ragland (sounds like it was recorded intentionally)
    Beastie Boys vs. Lynyrd Skynyrd
    Green Day vs. Oasis

  12. John Hawbaker

    This isn’t a mashup, and I’m not even sure if you have any patience for “newgrass,” but Nickel Creek does a pretty entertaining cover of “Toxic.”
    The Nirvana Rickroll is magical.


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