The eccentric creative geniuses keeping the mash-up alive and well.
Music mash-ups were all the rage in the early 2000s, but after a few years where they reached some level of mainstream acceptance with 2 Many DJs, they fell out of favour. Mash-ups were officially yesterday’s thing. Thank goodness that DJ Cummerbund and Bill McClintock took no notice of the shifts in fashion and – much like some of the bands that they have chosen to regularly sample – instead simply carried on regardless, knowing that what goes around comes around. These two artists – and I don’t use that word lightly – are at the forefront of entirely recreating music from existing sources. Both enjoy mixing metal and classic with pop and disco acts, and have taken the art of the mash-up in new creative directions. They’ve also shown that pro-tools is not an entirely pointless piece of software – while it has been used to homogenise and neuter music, it also allows these mixes to become more authentic, either with changed vocals, twisted tunes or smoothed edges on what might otherwise be rough collisions. Both artists ply their trade on YouTube, forever running the gauntlet of copyright takedown notices (despite their not-for-profit work almost certainly covered by fair use, parody and other copyright exclusions) and both seem to be relentless in their output.
Naturally, not everything hits the spot, and sometimes the source material is too awful to ever really be adapted – a shitty tune remains a shitty tune even when layered with new vocals, I’m afraid. But there is so much extraordinary material in their catalogue that you will easily lose a day going down their musical rabbit holes. It won’t be time wasted.
DJ Cummerbund is the more upfront of the two, inserting himself and his name into most tracks. He has a fixation with WWE wrestler Randy Savage, giving a certain consistency to his mixes, and some of this stuff is so skilful that you’ll wonder just what witchcraft is at work here.
Wild Cherry vs Rammstein was my entry point to Cummerbund’s work, and it’s still perhaps his finest moment, something so unlikely and yet so perfectly crafted that it will leave you marvelling at the sheer audacity of it all.
Possibly my second favourite, a brilliant mix of two fantastic tracks – Barry White‘s Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Baby and Pat Benatar’s Love is a Battlefield – that creates something better than either song is on its own.
Edwin Starr’s protest classic War and the Village People’s YMCA, with added Cyndi Lauper. Stunning.
The perfect after-party wind-down song, courtesy of Kiss and the Commodores.
Not the best Cummerbund track, but you have to admire the audacity of colliding Babymetal and Johnny Cash…
Bill McClintock is a more anonymous figure, but his stuff is equally good – perhaps with less immediate humour than some of Cummerbund’s choices but possibly resulting in more stylish tracks. Again, this is stuff you’ll listen to and wonder how it works – and yet you know that these tracks could be released now and a huge audience of people unfamiliar with either act would lap them up. You rather want these to be officially released and storming the charts – it would certainly make music a lot more interesting…
A mix of Chic and Iron Maiden that got the thumbs up from both bands, with good reason.
Proving that anything is possible, here’s Slayer’s Chemical Warfare mixed with Katrina and the Wave’s Walking on Sunshine to make the feel-good song of the year.
Even the video for this one feels as though it was shot this way. Black Sabbath and The Temptations combine in a moment of sheer perfection.
Okay, on paper this seems less unlikely that some mixes, but you’ll still be impressed at how well Whole Lotta Love and The Trooper work together.
And finally, a laid-back moment of funkiness courtesy of Fleetwood Mac and Earth Wind and Fire, again fitting together as if that was the intention from the start.
There are other people doing mash-ups, some quite brilliant – but few have the consistency of these two artists. Once you start on this journey, you’ll find it to be an endless source of joy (unless, of course, you are a sour-faced purist, in which case this will very much be a trip into musical purgatory for you).
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Here’s proof that music is a beautifully fluid art form and full of surprises when you mess with the ingredients.
There’s lots to like here but Katrina and the Slayers is a moment of pure joy that’s a gift to the whole world. Thanks for sharing.
Isn’t that one wonderful? Under no circumstances should it work, and yet…
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