This evening while I was eating pizza, Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” played on the radio. Its melody reminded me of another song: “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye. I instantly posited that someone probably made a mashup with these songs and, sure enough, a Google search confirmed my suspicions.
I was disappointed, but I wasn’t surprised. This is an art form where people combine rap acapellas with rap instrumentals and have the nerve to think that they’re “pushing the envelope.” (Full disclosure: I did that in 2013, but I’ve since moved far beyond that.) Mashing these songs is like eating a vanilla ice cream cone on a roller coaster: the setting may be different, but the ice cream is still bland.
Compare such pabulum to a mashup like “Aquatic Burn” by Larsta40. It’s far from perfect, but my first reaction upon seeing the instrumental source was one of genuine surprise. I’ve used video game music in my mashups, but even with that, Larsta one-upped me by drawing inspiration from a game I hadn’t even thought about using yet. Considering how I used to play said game – “Donkey Kong Country” – on my Super Nintendo, you’d think I would have already beaten Larsta to the punch. Mind you, the reaction to my own “Lone Shot” tells me that I’m still capable of shocking people with unexpected combinations.
With all of that said, don’t misunderstand me. The last thing the mashup scene needs is homogeneity. As proud as I am of the mashups I’ve made so far in 2015, if every producer imitated me, I believe that the scene would suffer. I’d also have more competition, which would be unbearable…for my competitors. I have railed and will continue to rail against Captain Obvious Mashups™, but they do serve as gateway drugs to more off-kilter fare. They also serve to do nothing to advance the art of making mashups.