During the long lull period before international pageant season comes underway, I would like to devote my blog to one of my major passions in life, which is actually music (which you would observe with my write-ups about Pentatonix, Psy, and most recently Macklemore). I don’t really have the talent to perform music (whether singing or playing an instrument) but that doesn’t stop me from having a keen appreciation for various genres, over various generations. It has been an ongoing obsession for me since I was in high school.
Anyway, sometimes when I listen to a song, another song would pop into my head and I would tend to sing that other song over the song that was playing at that moment. Fusing songs together is now popularly known as a “mash-up” but I had my own term back in the 1990s and called it “medley-itis”. But since mash-up is now such a widely used term, I’ll stick to that term. And we heard such a whole host of brilliant mash-ups all over YouTube, especially amongst current artists and songs. But sometimes when I listen to some current songs I sometimes mix it up with songs from a very different era, and I observed it’s very rare to find such kind of cross-generational mash-ups over YouTube. So let me devote my series of music-themed writings to ideas for cross-generational mash-ups, that I hope mash-up masters out there will come up with their own mixes or performances based from my ideas. I’ll start my series of cross-generational mash-ups with Rihanna.
Diamonds (2012) / Diamonds Are Forever – Shirley Bassey (1970) / Diamonds from Sierra Leone – Kanye West (2005) / Fantasy – Earth, Wind and Fire (1978) / La Vie En Rose – Grace Jones (1977) / Africa – Toto (1983). Let’s start with Rihanna’s latest number one smash, a dignified midtempo number. It’s obvious to think of Shirley Bassey’s James Bond number especially since they share a title, and the grooves of both songs could blend well. And while we’re talking about Shirley Bassey’s song, we can also add Kanye’s song in the mix since Kanye sampled Shirley’s song for his hit. But oddly enough the first song that I actually thought of to mash up with Rihanna’s hit was not Shirley Bassey, but EWF’s classic song. Then, when I think of the Caribbean rhythms and groove popping in and out of Rihanna’s song, I also recall Grace Jones’s version of that old Edith Piaf classic, “La Vie En Rose”. So let me present the videos to those songs below and use your imagination in creating a mash-up using the aforementioned songs.
EDIT: It also dawned on me that the song’s groove also suits well to Toto’s No. 1 smash back in 1983, “Africa”.
We Found Love [featuring Calvin Harris] (2011) / Watcher of the Skies – Genesis (1972). Back in 1986, at the height of Peter Gabriel’s fame with his hit “Sledgehammer”, I saw a late-night TV special about him featuring his older numbers, and they showed concert footage of his stint in Genesis, and the performance they showed was “Watcher of the Skies”. When I listened to Calvin Harris’ repetitive keyboard riff for this song, that Genesis number was the first thing that popped in my head and the image of Peter Gabriel in full pancake makeup and bizarre costume is constantly embedded in my head when I listen to this Rihanna hit. It would be nice to splice in Calvin Harris’s riff to the epic and progressive (though not radio-friendly) number–it’s a weird mix, but it would be fun to hear the results.
SOS (2006) / SOS – ABBA (1975) / Tainted Love – Soft Cell (1982). Now, this would require a reinterpretation and creative rearrangement instead of simply splicing the songs, because I think it’s impossible to splice up ABBA’s recording to fit the rhythms of the two other songs. Obviously I included “Tainted Love” since they sampled that song’s groove for Rihanna’s first No. 1 hit. It is ironic that the lyrics and sentiments of Rihanna’s “SOS” and “Tainted Love” are polar opposites–Rihanna is about searching for love while “Tainted Love” talks about running away from it. And putting ABBA’s classic hit in the middle, it seems we can turn this mash-up into an epic chronicle of a love falling apart–such an unfortunate common tale in this day and age, I fear… But then again, another interpretation in mashing the three songs together is that the first two songs could be interpreted as coming from a point of view from an obsessed girl, and “Tainted Love” is the guy’s response to her feelings.
I hope this blog gets to reach music lovers and mash-up masters out there and make my ideas come into fruition. I hope this doesn’t remain a figment of my own fantasies.