Grade A?

I recently found an Amoeba Music post from last year featuring Shahar Varshal and A+D. There is one part of it which I’d like to shout from every rooftop in the mashup scene. It perfectly captures my raison d’être in making and evaluating mashups.

When asked about what makes the perfect mashup, Adrian Roberts (the “A” in A+D) said this:

Of course, the two (or more) songs that are being mashed up together need to be the in same key, and in the same tempo. But that only gets a mashup to “work” — it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be anything special. Most current chart music is in the same key and tempo, but there’s very little creativity or inspiration in mashing up two current chart hits. Those are what we call “what’s the point?” mashups.

He explained himself further:

For a mashup to really stand out, there usually needs to be an “OMG WTF” factor involved, and that’s usually taking an older, forgotten song and breathing new life into it — recontextualizing it in a new way, perhaps taking a retro hit and mashing it up with a newer song. Or by either mixing disparate genres together, or mashing up songs from different eras, yet still showcasing the connection points those songs share, whether it be lyrically, or musically.

If I could have said it any better, I’d be Adrian Roberts.

Just to prove that I’m not preaching a doctrine I don’t believe in, allow me to evaluate the first three mashups I’ve done using the above criteria.

  • Misery Protocol: in pairing a movie soundtrack with a rock song, I’ve got the “disparate genres” requirement covered. Combining unrelated genres is my favourite way to surprise people and I think I did a good job of that here.
  • Onion Show: “Green Onions” is used often in mashups, but I made sure that no one attempted to match it with Marilyn Manson’s “The Dope Show” before doing it myself. The genres aren’t quite as disparate as they are in “Misery Protocol,” but there’s still a clash happening here. I thought that this combination had some comedy in it; Adrian didn’t mention that factor in picking mashup sources, but it probably fits into his OMG WTF factor.
  • Hot N Cold Eyes: the genre clash here is even less profound than it is in “Green Onions.” Of these three mashups, I think the surprise factor is lowest in this one, but I also believe I’ll be able to stand by this mashup at the end of 2015. Besides, the cover is quite slick. 🙂

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