How can something so wrong, be oh so right?

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know – the mash-up thing is pretty old news at this point. But I still come across some that I like now and again, so let’s run with it.

The one up top made me laugh pretty hard; it’s surprisingly seamless. I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of Goths cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.

If any readers were looking for songs to play at their wedding reception, the search is hereby over.


Generally, I prefer when “A vs. B” pop and rock mash-ups limit themselves to two sources per track, as above; and ideally, those sources should be in some sort of dialogue with one another, not just musically but thematically – either complementary, or contradictory (the one above is mostly just “comedic”).

My canonical complementary example is Lenlow’s “Bjorn Slippy”, in which the new lovers from the Peter, Bjorn & John song “Young Folks” get strafed by Underworld’s laser synths; like the shy protagonists are actually meeting in a hedonistic noisy strobing smoke-filled club, from which they now seek quiet romantic refuge. (Apologies for the poor sound quality on that link, that was the only upload of that mix available on YT – hopefully you get the idea).

But with hip-hop, where cut-and-paste rhythms and sampled backdrops are the norm and potentially-clashing melodies and moods are de-emphasized, it’s often enough to hear all the discrete musical puzzle pieces get fitted together skillfully, and think, “yeah…that boogies!”

So first, some history from way back in 1983, with Steinski, one of the pioneers of sample/collage music-making. Without them, we might not have gotten to the Dust Brothers, Prince Paul and DJ Shadow:

Steinski – Lesson #1 (The Payoff Mix)

And a modern descendant. Adding (once again) Herbie Hancock – and weirdly, even INXS – only makes this song funkier, though it bugs me that they did not pitch-shift the AC/DC portion back down, you’d think they could have fixed that. At least that part’s short:

Beastie Boys vs. Herbie Hancock (and INXS) – Intergalactic Rockit


An entirely different sort of mash-up is below, using “concepts” more than “songs” as ingredients. Apparently there is a BBC series called Horrible Histories, a children’s sketch comedy/history program.

To teach kids about Charles Dickens, they did a spot-on, hilarious Smiths parody (the nods to song lyrics and vocal tics killed me).

(via Dangerous Minds):

Horrible Histories – Dickens Song (Smiths Parody)

Any mash-ups out there I should check out?


Glyph is worse than some and better than others. He believes that life is just one damned thing after another, that only pop music can save us now, and that mercy is the mark of a great man (but he's just all right). Nothing he writes here should be taken as an indication that he knows anything about anything.


  1. Oh, jeez. I even used to be into this whole thing and now I can’t find my files… there was one song that made me say “YOU CAN *DO* THAT???” and, mind blown, I devoured everything I could possibly find.

    And now I can’t find any of them. Sigh.

    So I’ll just put a link to here and tell you to listen to “I wanna be sedated”.

    • That was…odd.

      For some reason I was reminded of this.

      That BBC Dickens thing made me laugh like the…well, HIM.

      I actually prefer that “Intergalactic” to the original. HH is funkier, and electro works wonders on the song.

      I also have a few good Zep/Beasties mashups – because of the Beasties’ origins and style, hard rock is always a natural fit – but they are never on YT, I think Zep’s lawyers are pretty vigilant.

      I can’t believe how seamless/smooth that Commodores/Cure one turned out. I keep getting it stuck in my head now.

      I started to riff on the whole “vs.” terminology, wondering if I somehow could score their bout. Something like:

      Cure: wore black
      Commodores: were black
      Advantage: Commodores

      Commodores, with afros: 6’4″
      Cure, with hairsprayed rats’ nests: 6’5″
      Advantage: Cure

      But that was as far as I got.

      • What makes it work for me is that it isolates parts of the song and makes you listen to them new and fresh.

        It’s not like you can listen to “I Wanna Be Sedated” the first time, ever again.

        One of the first “serious” mashup songs I’d heard was the Doctor Who/Rock And Roll Part II and that broke my brain and from there, one of my friends said “listen to *THIS*” and gave me some Pop Will Eat Itself.

        That was pre-internet, though… I will have to bug Maribou and ask about the post-internet stuff we listened to…

        • RE: The Doctor Who/Rock & Roll Pt. II (Timelords deal). The Timelords/JAMS/KLF were a huge part of the whole thing. One day I should do a post on them and their various stunts. Seriously some of the nuttiest motherfishers in pop music.

    • I had somehow managed to never hear “Call Me Maybe” and now you have broken my streak!

      (Guest posts always welcome, hint hint…)

      • Hah! Well hearing that song together with Nine Inch Nails is the best way to do it.

  2. Oh, you’ve finally reached a “genre”, such as it is, that I can’t stand. Chacun son goût.

    • Hmm, that’s a bit of a strange thing to hear a hip-hop fan say, as it’s really just a subset of “sampling/remixing” (as indicated by the Steinski nod). Care to elaborate? I understand if you hate jokey or inept ones, and 95% of them are one or the other or both, but so’s most everything.

      And come ON – Morrissey as Victorian sad sack? That’s GOLD.

      • I honestly don’t know what it is. I don’t think it’s rational. I do love sampling, and hip hop mixtapes, which generally involve pretty straight samples overlaid with less process raps, are one of my favorite things in the world. I was actually listening to this one before I came over to this post.

        Thinking about it a bit, I wonder if it’s the mashup of wholes rather than intermixing smaller parts. I rarely, if ever, think of hip hop as reworking a song or integrating a song with another song (or set of songs), but instead more as using other song as pieces of a separate whole. Or perhaps this is all rationalization.

        • the mashup of wholes rather than intermixing smaller parts. I rarely, if ever, think of hip hop as reworking a song or integrating a song with another song (or set of songs), but instead more as using other song as pieces of a separate whole.

          I think I can see what you are getting at. I tried to delineate that “mashup of wholes” using terminology from that wiki link (“A vs. B”). That’s one end of the “sample/remix” continuum, and yeah, a lot of them are bad.

          They are probably also the easiest to make, so there’s lots of them out there, driving up the overall “bad” quotient.

          But god help me that Cure/Commodores one is just funny to me; the incongruity, and implied disrespect to both artists’ fanbases, while somehow still managing to come up with an actually pretty end-product that sounds whole (if you had never heard either song, you would never know it was a Frankenstein; it would just be a pretty love song with a weird singer), is something else.

          And I think “Bjorn Slippy” actually does something conceptually-interesting; it’s not (to me) jokey.

          Once you get to the Beasties, because of their rock background and vocal style, it actually sounds pretty natural to me (the Zep/Beasties mashup I failed to find on YT is called “D’Yer What’cha Want”, and it rocks). There’s also some OK Cypress Hill ones in this vein.

          At the other end of the “remix/sample” continuum are your Shadows and Dust Brothers and Steinskis, piecing together much more elaborate assemblages, with more tweaking and often from more and smaller samples, so that they are more clearly “original” works at the end. The seams don’t show so much.

          • Yeah, I don’t mean to denigrate it (the chacun son goût was sincere). It’s just not my thing. I can listen to DJ Shadow, but I probably wouldn’t choose to.

            I admit that The Cure mashup at the top did kind of crack me up. But then I also have an irrational hate of The Cure.

            Not at all related, but I was just listening to Sage Francis and thought, “Maybe he’s Jaybird.”

          • Oh, no worries, I didn’t take it personally, I was just curious.

            I like to think that Jaybird is secretive about his identity and life for exactly this reason – it allows him to be a rapper, metal god, globetrotting international chef, and international man of mystery, while maintaining the fiction that he’s just a gamer and internet raconteur.

            BTW, I don’t know why, but I have never clicked your name through to your blog (idiot that I am, I only just now wondered why your name showed up in blue). So you may get some comments on long-dormant posts as I poke around…

          • I just started it a couple months ago, and I’ve been dormant for the last couple weeks as various things wrap up work-wise and family wise. I hope to start posting again soon (I have a bunch of half-written posts).

          • My mom googles me from time to time. I don’t want her finding my blog. She’ll find out that I cuss.

          • Heh… I was just making a beard joke (Francis is impressively bearded, and has a shaved head).

            He makes good stuff.

          • Whoa, Chris. I had stopped clicking your name because it always led to that same thousand year old Mixing Memory post (man, talk about a story line that ended abruptly, with no denouement ). So I had no idea you’d begun afresh. I’ll stop by and cause some trouble. A few rants about evolution ought to do it, or maybe I’ll go anonymous and attack the social sciences, just for kicks.

          • Hah… I’m not very good at self-promotion. Like I said, it’s just started. I feel weird putting time into posts that I know no one’s going to read, so it’s been heard to be motivated. But I will try to finish some of the stuff that I started.

            There was a bunch after that last old blogspot post, because I blogged with ScienceBlogs when it was owned by Seed, but now it’s owned by National Geographic and I feel oddly disconnected from all of the stuff I wrote there. It was not a pleasant experience, I have to admit. There were, and are, some ScienceBlogs people who are… not good people.

          • I commented on your most recent post. Feel free to ignore, I just wanted to complain (not about you) somewhere. 😉

          • Glyph, I think that’s my first real comment. The few others so far have been spam (I should get rid of them). My favorite spam comment:

            Hi, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just wondering ifyou get a lot of spam responses? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can advise?
            I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any help is very much appreciated.

          • Then allow me to say, since I did not say it there:

            (TRUE) FIRSTIES!!

          • Get me over here? Why are people out to get me? Why here? What did I ever do to you people?!

          • And have to share all the unfettered riches, elite perks, and adulation of the uncounted throngs of MD groupies? No way, no how.

          • I do bring one groupie with me, my girlfriend, and she’s pretty smokin’ (both physically and in the sense that she’s smart and way, way cooler than me). The only cash I bring, however, is Monopoly money. And as I’m not very good at Monopoly, all I have left are 5’s and 1’s.

    • There is something to be admired in finding songs when layered actually fit together is definitely a talent. We are talking about matching rises and falls, tempo, and chorus. I agree that there are so many failed mashups but elements of repetition in music in single songs is pretty standard why not layer them on top of one another?
      For fun: Killing Joke, Nirvana and the Damned pretty much all “independently” used the same riff although Nirvana seemed to benefit most from it.

  3. I think an Asus4 would make a great windchime.

    I’m a bit disgruntled by the whole electronica thing.
    For so many years, I felt like the little monkey in the suit with the cup; the one with the organ grinder walking around with him.
    And I truly resent playing for a bunch of drunks. If there’s any way I could play a no-alcohol show, I’d jump on it. (Compared to my first studio gig, which paid my own room and all the beer I could drink.)
    I’ve used sound banks before; notably for horns & marimba– stuff too big to carry around, or that we would have to bring in someone else to do.
    But the use is limited. It complements the chemistry of a live combo and augments the overall sound. A difference in philosophy, I suppose you’d say.

    That said, I think this by Cat Stevens is totally kick ass.
    (and note how processed the horn sounds are compared to the new stuff)

    • Every time I think I have your musical tastes figured out, you throw a curveball. You’re a mystery wrapped in an enigma coated in sea salt, Will H.

      • That makes me sound like Jaybird. 😉
        Anyway, I can see the art behind it, and appreciate that. I can even see using industrial noises, etc. in a piece (and the breaking glass in the intro to Gentle Giant’s “The Runaway” comes to mind).
        And I have a very good friend that’s a DJ that I’ve seen at work.
        Just something seems different about it.

        And this got me to thinking . . .

        I know this guy that’s into Genghis Tron. While there are things I like about the band, it’s not really my cup of tea.
        I do really like how the pieces come together. If you listen to one of their cd’s, it’s a lot different than hearing a song or two, because you can’t really tell where one song ends and another begins unless you’re already familiar with it. Then, when you hear the song isolated from the rest, it makes perfect sense.
        But the electronic aspect is something that doesn’t grate on me, because they’re using the same old keyboards and equipment– they’re just using different sound banks.

        And so, I wonder how much of my reluctance is really more of a resistance to technology.
        Like the Line 6 guitars; I don’t understand how they work. People I know that have had them tell me you can get a real P-90 sound out of them, but I just don’t see it.
        And I don’t trust these amp simulators. The only thing that sounds like a pre-CBS Twin Reverb is a pre-CBS Twin Reverb.

        Still trying to isolate that aspect I find problematic.
        I think it might just be that I’m something of a Luddite.

        I did like the Dickens song. In fact, it made me hate the guy a little bit less.
        And the Commodores thing was pretty cool.

  4. i’m with chris on the no mashups tip. at their best they’re basically just dj’ing – which can be done very well – diplo + low budget doing hollertronix, for example. but generally it’s two songs i don’t care about made into one song i don’t care about. and unlike she and him you can’t just mute it and stare wistfully as her hair blows in the breeze…

    • Well, shoot. Even hometown homeboys like Beastie Boys and Steinski couldn’t save this one for you, eh?

      BTW, if you see Diplo, please DO go upside his head for that TERRIBLE “Bubble Butt” song.

      No, I will not link it here.

    • Is it weird that I get kind of excited when dhex agrees with me about music? It’s like that time when I was a freshman in high school and a senior told me he liked my t-shirt.

      • hell, i get excited when i agree with myself.

        glyph – was never a beastie boys fan. i can appreciate steinski as an innovator (both production and dj’ing) of the highest caliber, but his actual work has never done much for me. but about as close to mashups as i can get is v/vm or the hateful destruction school of sampling.

        if you want to hear something terrible, there’s a remix of the dirty dancing song which has just the worst editing of the chorus you could imagine. i’ve heard it at the last two weddings i’ve been to, and it’s heinous. far more ugly than even i can deal with.

  5. Just presently I am in love with Bastille’s No Angels (the xx vs. TLC). I’m at work at a public desk, so I can’t vouch for any particular youtube version – though this acoustic one looks promising? – but if you just search bastille no angels, you’ll find a jillion hits.

    Also, I go through Girl Talk phases – although they are so mashed they become meta…

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