8 of the Best Pop Music Mashups Ever
There's a certain artistry that goes into creating a good mashup -- striking the right balance between two songs can be a difficult skill to master, especially if they fall on opposite ends of the spectrum, genre-wise. It doesn't always work out. But when it does, you're left with a unique piece of music: A track that's equal parts familiar and new.
Still, mashups remain the middle children of music -- unsung and neglected. They were celebrated in the mainstream for a brief time when Girl Talk rose to popularity with his 2008 album Feed The Animals, but the novelty appears to have largely worn off, and it's a shame. It takes a specific kind of person to hear The Beatles' "Let It Be" and Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me" as entirely separate entities and attempt to jam them together in a way that's sonically pleasing. That particular instance is not entirely successful, but it's proof that the individual human brain works in puzzling and unique ways.
Below are some of my favorite mashups to come out of the past few years, from your more well-known combinations to some relatively new ones and some that are just straight-up weird.
An important side-note: Sadly, due to copyright infringement issues, the Internet seems to be wiped clean of one of the greatest mashups of our time: The terribly titled "Britney's Massive Hole," featuring Britney Spears' "Do Somethin'" and Muse's "Supermassive Black Hole." Many have attempted to replicate the original track, but none capture the sound of the original, so I've been forced to leave it out.
"Call Me A Hole" is the Carly Rae Jepsen/Nine Inch Nails mashup that got all those press write-ups, but "I Really Like A Hole" is more deserving. It's almost comical in its contrast -- Jepsen in all her bubblegum shine is oblivious to Trent Reznor's gripping angst -- but the two tracks fit together to make for one seriously bizarre earworm.
The main percussive beat from Ed Sheeran's "Don't" strips One Direction's "Steal My Girl" of its '80s rock feel -- nudging it gently toward a more hip-hop influence -- while simultaneously sparing the listener Sheeran's bitter rap-singing from his original track.
Taylor Swift re-branded herself as a pop star with the release of her massively successful 1989, and lead single "Shake It Off" served as the catalyst meant to ease listeners into the idea. It clearly worked, but the song's a little juvenile -- even for Swift. Insert the smooth, R&B-influenced beat from Ariana Grande's hit "The Way": The track is instantly sleeker and cooler -- lame bridge section and all.
Possibly one of the most popular mashups of all time, Jay Z's "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" and The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" come together in a form of mutual elevation: The intensity of Jay's verses are heightened with the orchestral instrumental, while The Verve's sample picks up a frenetic energy from its new vocals.
A line from Michael Jackson's "Black And White" acts as the connecting thread throughout the track, which goes on to blend an array of pop hits, with the odd soft rock track (Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger") thrown in for good measure.
M83's "Midnight City" has seen an inordinate amount of remixes and mashups over the past few years, but it's never assisted a song as successfully as it does here. Kanye's "Good Life" isn't overpowered by the synth undertones, but it's not really competing with them either. It's a smart blend of hip-hop and electronica that highlights the best of both tracks.
DJ Earworm creates a mashup of the year's Top 25 Billboard tracks annually, but 2009's is his magnum opus. Combining the likes of Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, The All-American Rejects, Pitbull, Drake and more, the track is an impressive amalgamation of hits from a wide variety of genres and artists, all melded together and altered to fit just so.
Even better, it acts as an expertly crafted, musical time capsule -- giving us the perfect snapshot of what music at the top of the charts sounded like over the course of a single year.
There is nothing that should make less sense in this terrible world than the sonic union of Justin Bieber and Slipknot, two entities that have zero overlap in the musical sphere. But no two songs meld together quite as harmoniously, either.
Bieber's 2010 hit "Baby" highlights the surprisingly melodic chorus in Slipknot's "Psychosocial," which is otherwise hidden beneath nightmare screams and shredding guitars. Slipknot's own Corey Taylor even agrees the track is killer. This is the kind of mashup meant to be played at weddings and funerals, beautiful in both its soft beginning and its fiery end.