The Lowdown On Mash-Ups

             Mash-ups, or “bootlegs” to our non-existent European readers, are gaining more and more respect in the music industry.  The act of blending two or more pre-recorded compositions has become the basis for some musicians’ careers.  Mash-up artists such as Girl Talk, Super Mash Bros., and DJ Earworm (to name a few) have begun topping the charts and infiltrating pregames everywhere.  This summer correspondent wants to know why.

First of all, everyone can find a mash-up they like.  The most popular form of blending two songs together is the seamless layering of one song’s vocal track over another song's instrumentals.  Stumbling across a combination of your two favorite songs is better than any Christmas morning I’ve ever experienced.  Since I was raised Jewish, that’s not saying a lot, but mash-ups provide the opportunity to form a hybrid of songs using only the parts you like—and the best ones do just that.

The advent of recorded music allowed for the re-imagining of many songs.  Way back in 1956, two dudes named Bill Buchanan and Dickie Goodman released a “break-in” song (named “The Flying Saucer" after it’s inspiration, War of The Worlds) in which snippets from one song would “break-in” to another.  Then, during the disco era, DJs began releasing medley discs in which several chart-toppers would be reworked to blend together.

            In the early 2000’s, it was theorized by the English rock band, Pop Will Eat Itself, that because pop music simply recycles the same successful ideas, the ideal pop song could be created by combining the best of each song into one track (hence the band’s name).  This revolutionary idea reached success through 2 Many DJs’ album, As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt. 2, which combined forty-five different tracks.

Around 2002, the British blog “Boomselection” was launched, which issued mash-up challenges and caused thousands of new bootlegs to be uploaded onto sites worldwide.  The music craze took hold in the United States, and the rest is history (recent, not-that-complicated history).

Brett’s Top 3:The-Jane-Doze-TJD-Spring-Break-2013

 The Jane Doze

            A personal favorite, this NYC DJ/production duo left their jobs at a record label to pursue their career as mash-up artists, and have since gained millions of views on YouTube and Soundcloud.


DJ Earworm

            This San Francisco-based artist has gained the most recognition for his annual “United States of Pop” mash-ups in which he combines the top twenty-five songs of the previous year into one party anthem.


Girl Talk

            Gregg Gillis (aka “Girl Talk”) is a Pittsburgh native (you’re welcome) engineer-turned-DJ specializing in mash-ups and digital sampling, whose album Night Ripper has been noted as the inspiration of many new mash-up artists.