10 game changing dance music mash-ups
The best moments in life are often the most random or unexpected ones. Just ask party whisky J&B. To celebrate the launch of J&B Mash-Up, we’re bringing you a series of articles on some of the best unpredicted moments and mash-ups in life.
Mash-ups are all about the thrill of the unexpected, when a DJ deftly mixes together two disparate tracks and makes them sound like they were always meant to be together. In dance music, the mash-up underwent a Renaissance in the late 90s and early 2000s and has been a powerful musical force ever since. We’ve picked back through the years to find ten of the best, from the leading lights of the mash-up genre through to the YouTube viral sensations and unexpected moments of pop music bliss.
#10 Kylie Minogue – ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head (Soulwax KYLUSS Mix)’
(Kylie Minogue / Kyuss)
You could write a whole list of all-time greatest mash-ups and devote it solely to the output of David and Stephen Dewaele. The Belgian brothers took the art of the mash-up to main stage-headlining, festival-smashing heights throughout the 2000s, and have a great body of work under guises like Radio Soulwax and 2manydjs. This simple and clean effort epitomises their style, bringing together two wildly different artists – pop princess Kylie and stoner rock dudes Kyuss – in perfect unity.
#9 WaitWhat – ‘Take Care Of U’
(Drake / Gil Scott Heron & Jamie xx)
When Jamie xx remixed Gil Scott Heron’s cover of Bobby Bland’s 1959 track I’ll Take Care Of You, the two already seemed like an unlikely pairing. Then Drake took the song and sampled it for his own Rihanna collaboration Take Care. WaitWhat brought the two versions of this track together in this mash-up to spookily beautiful effect. His version takes Drake’s verses and pairs them with Heron’s hooks, over Jamie xx’s piano hook, and it all ends up being the best of all worlds.
#8 Carlos Serrano – ‘Something About The Fire’
(Adele / Daft Punk)
Pop music is becoming a monoculture, where it’s perfectly fine to love both Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar equally. Even so, admitting that you actually like Adele’s big, weepy ballads is a step too far. This mash-up, by Carlos Serrano, presents a socially acceptable way to enjoy Adele, pairing the vocal of her track Set Fire to the Rain with the smooth, sultry electro funk backing of Daft Punk’s Something About Us. Just give in to the power of Something About the Fire – it’s very good.
#7 Damn DJs – Damnation 2002 Mixtape
There was a time in the 2000s when the Bang Gang DJs ruled the school with their mash-ups – their regular Sydney and Melbourne parties drew huge crowds and ushered in an entire generation of fluoro-clad festival attendees. The Ministry Of Sound Mashed compilations, mixed by a rotating cast of Bang Gang affiliates, were uniformly excellent, and this mix by Dangerous Dan, Beni and the very-greatly-missed Ajax, captures them at their free-wheeling best.
#6 Danger Mouse – The Grey Album
(The Beatles / Jay Z)
EMI tried to block its distribution, and its release was such a cultural landmark that The New Yorker ran a whole feature about it, but take away all the surrounding noise and The Grey Album is still one of the greatest mash-ups of all time. Danger Mouse created the whole thing in a two-week burst of inspiration, taking vocals from Jay-Z’s The Black Album and layering them carefully over instrumental samples of The Beatles’ The White Album. Honourable mention also goes to Max Tannone’s inspired Jay-Z and Radiohead mash-up, Jaydiohead.
#5 Madeon – ‘Pop Culture’
France’s Madeon caught the internet’s attention two years ago when his Pop Culture mash-up made him a viral star. The track is an unbelievably and unabashedly epic live mash-up, showcasing Madeon’s formidable skills as it brings together a huge array of pop and electro tracks, everything from Kylie and Ke$ha to Daft Punk and Bag Raiders; and he’s already come out with a number of excellent productions to follow this one up.
#4 The Avalanches – ‘Since I Left You’
The Avalanches’ debut is a beast of a mash-up record, stitched together from more than 3,500 vinyl samples. It won the lads a stack of awards and turned them into big stars, and remains their only full-length album to date; The Avalanches have been promising a follow-up ever since. In 2011 it looked likely, with Modular boss Steve Pavlovic declaring that “they’re finished and they’re celebrating”, but still, nothing materialised. If Since I Left You is all we have to remember them, well, that’s still pretty good.
#3 DJ Lobsterdust – ‘Midnight Scrubs’
(M83 / TLC)
This is one of those perfect mash-ups that come on slowly and make your eyes light up in delight as you realise what’s happening. DJ Lobsterdust takes M83’s stately synth pop song Midnight City and mixes in the vocal from TLC’s No Scrubs – it seems like a strange pairing at first, but as it tumbles towards the chorus, you realise it’s a perfect fit, and these songs were always meant to be together. Of the many Midnight City mash-ups out there, this one is definitely the most inspired.
#2 DJ Earworm – ‘Don’t Stop The Pop’
When it comes to mash-ups, it’s difficult to go past DJ Earworm – his annual United State Of Pop mixes concentrate 25 or so of the year’s biggest pop songs into the space of around five minutes. His Don’t Stop The Pop mix from 2010 is a fairly typical example, expertly weaving snatches of that year’s most recognisable tracks together into one uber-dance pop track. Earworm’s mixes have become so popular over the last few years, he even scored a gig making playlists for the London Olympics.
#1 Girl Talk – ‘Feed The Animals’
Girl Talk’s Greg Gillis stitches together party tracks from a dizzying array of samples and his fourth album, released on his own Illegal Art label in 2008, is him in fine form. It opens with the stunning Play Your Part (Part 1), which incorporated elements of 20 different tracks in just under five minutes, taking in everything from Outkast and Aaliyah to Huey Lewis and Twisted Sister. The rest of the album is full of surprises, with deftly-deployed samples of Rihanna, Avril Lavigne and dozens of others.