In 2003, I first heard about the type of music called the mashup, where someone takes elements from two or more pieces of music and…mashes them together to create something else. Some may scoff at the idea of mashups as diluting the power of the creator, being no different than sampling or remixing. Others may feel that it is a pointless hobby, since music is so similar-sounding anyways. Personally, I like the re-contextualization of musical ideas and sounds through their juxtaposition, forcing artists and performers out of their artificially established pigeon holes without the compromises, misconceptions, or awkwardness that comes with doing those things for real. It has happened with other artforms, why not music?

While I had made two or three really bad mashups in 2004 for kicks, it was not until 2006 when I really started making them. For all intents and purposes, the mashup above is the first one that I made and the motivation behind it was sheer desperation. In the fall of 2002, I took my University semester abroad in Sydney, Australia. Yeah, I know, I should have gone to Sicily or something, but anyways…I noticed there that pop music was more openly electronic and dance-y than in the United States. It had that sort of mid-90s vibe that had kind of gone by the wayside in the United States. Yes at the time, I felt that way. Pop music, rap, rock, and R&B in the United States seemed to flirt a bit with electronic elements, but I felt that they either did not acknowledge it or kept it at a distance. While I did not care for this type of thump thump “techno” either way, it did not particularly bother me. It did make me feel like percussion in American popular music had starting sounding really…awkwardly weak. My belief hardened when I returned to the United States to find that Crunk had really taken off and that there was some offshoot or something called Snaps.

This feeling that American music was taking everything from electronic dance music except for the one thing that really matters was at its worst when the song Unfaithful by Rihanna became popular. Now, I realize that the idea of Rihanna not fully embracing EDM would seem silly even a year later, but I kept thinking that the song was missing a percussion section. I am not saying that the thumps would have made the song better, but I am saying that those little snap clicks were drying me crazy. I was working in a school and had to overhear that song every time that the kids had gym or recess. After a month of that, I felt like I had to do something, if only for my sanity.

I had remembered one song that I had heard while in Australia that may be appropriate to mix with the Rihanna song, DJ Sammy’s Heaven featuring Do. At the time, I did not know that it was a cover of a Bryan Adams song and I did not really care for it all that much anyways, but that is irrelevant. All I knew is that I had to mash these two songs together or else I end up doing something worse. I didn’t know why I felt that this would work, but I suppose that it had to be better than whatever the alternative might be.

So I mashed these two songs together, completely cutting up the melody of the DJ Sammy song to fit in with Rihanna’s. I did try to include some of the lyrics in “Heaven” where I felt that they would add to whatever Rihanna was singing, just for my own amusement. Ultimately, even if I did not come up with a good song or improve on either of these tracks, but it kind of calmed me down. After this, I decided to make this a hobby, doing it for fun and making things that I would actually enjoy, not just something to maintain my sanity. I would keep going until around 2010, when I had to get a new computer and…well…didn’t feel like re-installing all of the programs that I had. By that point, I felt that the idea of musical mashups had gone in a direction where they had greater complexity than what I felt that I could do or went for the type of stupid comedy that I can do only on occasion. So I figured that it was a good time for me to stop making it. Regardless, I am still genuinely fond of quite a few of the ones that I have made, so I would like to share them with you.

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