Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Innovation Is Girl Talk

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

Mashups aren’t necessarily new and innovative anymore, but they are becoming more prevalent.

Some have been pretty good in the past, or at least yummy. Think Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups - “you got chocolate in my peanut. No, you got peanut butter in my chocolate.”

Some may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but weren’t the best. Think TV-VCR combo machines.

Some haven't even been real, but were pretty darn funny. Think Saturday Night Live’s “Shimmer” skit. It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping.

Seems mashups are all the rage in music and music videos these days. Makes sense given the technology and the relative ease with which elements can be spliced. One of my kids’ favorites is the Top 25 Pop 2009 Remix by DJearworm. And just this past week I noticed Norwegian Recycling’s “Miracles” video mashup made its way to the Yahoo! frontpage. I thought this one pretty cool.

Even recent hit singles such as Eminem’s “Love The Way You Lie” with Rihanna or Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” with Alicia Keys combine rap, hip-hop, and pop in what might not technically be considered a true mashup, but are still reminiscent of the genre.

I have no doubt mashups will become increasingly pervasive in music. The novelty will likely wear a bit sometime soon and perhaps we’ll wonder what life was like before them.

One of the true innovators in the musical mashup realm is a guy by the name of Gregg Gillis. He performs and releases music under the name Girl Talk. When I first heard his songs I was totally blown away. Still am. Amazing is the word. For some, the hip-hop oriented style of Girl Talk might not be overly appealing (and if you take issue with the sometimes less than savory language of hip hop and rap music, you probably shouldn’t have a listen. Don’t bother.) Unlike the Norwegian Recycling “Miracles” track or more traditionally sampled songs (like that heard in Naughty By Nature’s song O.P.P. for instance– which riffs on the Jackson 5’s song “ABC”), Girl Talk layers multiple tracks at once and seamlessly connects sequences. He combines hip hop, rap, classic rock, pop, and more. There’s actually a little bit of music for everyone in virtually every song. Like I said it’s amazing. Songs aren’t simply spliced sequentially. It’s a whole new Phil Spector-like Wall of Sound. Take a listen at the Girl Talk MySpace page to the tracks “In Step”, “Hand in the Air”, or “Play Your Part Pt 2” (I’d tell you to listen to “Play Your Part Pt 1” or “Still Here”, but I know the language right from the get-go would offend.)

I imagine there will come a day when mashups aren’t simply the realm of music and music videos. Things like the ultralight aircraft originally started as a hang glider combined with a lawnmower engine in somebody’s garage. Or what about the spork? These won’t be the exception in the future. Consumers are likely to start making their own creations more and more and sharing with others. I’m tempted to make my own electric shaving razor from Legos. And I sure hope someone actually introduces “Shimmer”. A good all-in-one floor wax and dessert topping could be pretty useful around my house.


Andrew said...

The Aerosmith/Run DMC collaboration of Walk this Way is another great example of an innovation mashup that has achieved tremendous success. It's a great lesson for corporations to learn...you must be truly open and willing to go outside your comfort zone to innovate.

Linda said...

Girl Talk continues to innovate beyond their records. At concerts, they also frequently step out of the traditional setting and invite their listeners to join them on the stage.

Celeste said...

Who doesn't love a great mash-up? My all time favorite? The Grey Album. The absolutely moving, beautiful mix of Jay-Z and The Beatles. WIN!

But it also makes perfect business sense - opening yourself to new ideas and really working to transcend boundaries. That, my friends is true innovation.

Stan said...

Mashups are the rage these days; take a little from here, a touch from there and VIOLA -- Creative Innovation. On the otherhand mashups are also very popular on the web; think news mashups from the top new websites: ABC, CNN, FOX etc..

In the end I think it's a new spin on an old word "collage"; made from an assemblage of different forms.

I think collaboration is the half brother (or sister LOL) of mashups and transparency is the dad!

Kim Ian Tumblod said...

Nice blog.. Well I'm not really sure that mushup music will go anytime soon. I think they are here to stay for a long long long time... maybe even 20 year from now. Well that's what i think..

Hey please check out mine http://topten10most.blogspot.com/
its about top ten 10 things. Its still new but hope you find something interesting

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