Monthly Archives: February 2013

CROSS-GENERATIONAL MASH-UPS: MISCELLANEOUS (VOLUME 1)

I do have a whole bunch of current songs in my head where I mash up with other much older tracks, so here is a sample that I have in my head as of late among the more current hits:

Some Nights – fun. (2012) / Japanese Boy – Aneka (1981) / Monday Morning – Fleetwood Mac (1975) / Second Hand News – Fleetwood Mac (1977) / Pilot of the Airwaves – Charlie Dore (1979).  While browsing through some Wikipedia articles about pan-European No. 1 hits, I came across this song entitled “Japanese Boy” by a singer named Aneka.  I was intrigued by that song’s name as I never heard of it before, and after seeing the silly, cheesy, and now-politically-incorrect vision of a comely Caucasian singer in a Japanese costume singing an utterly catchy disco-ey Oriental-styled number (as Aneka herself noted, it’s a flop in Japan because the music actually sounded Chinese instead of Japanese–with the tonal melodies employed in this song, she is actually absolutely correct), it became one of my biggest guilty pleasures of all-time.  Little did we know that she later on had a more dignified, though lower-key, career as a folk singer specializing in traditional Scottish folk songs under her real name, Mary Sandeman.  Now back to the novelty song–when I listened to fun.’s more serious and earnest hit song, the “woh-oh” lines reminded me of similar parts of “Japanese Boy”, and even if on the surface they would be totally incompatible, they actually would segue well together–the lyrics of “Some Nights” could be the point of view of the “Japanese Boy” in Aneka’s song and could offer an explanation why he abandoned his lover as expressed in the lyrics of “Japanese Boy”.  Now, lead singer Nate Ruess’s voice somehow reminds me of a younger version of Lindsey Buckingham, though it’s hard for me to find those 1970s Fleetwood Mac hits that would fit in the mix–until I searched for well-regarded album tracks “Monday Morning” from the 1975 eponymous album (and Lindsey and Stevie Nicks’s debut in the band) and “Second Hand News” from their best-selling 1977 follow-up Rumours.  Finally, the way the opening lines of “Some Nights” are sung in chorus a cappella style reminded me of the intro to Charlie Dore’s 1979 hit “Pilots of the Airwaves” (though not the rest of Charlie’s song, which are rather incompatible), so we can also add that element in the mix.

“Adorn” – Miguel (2012) / “Just the Two of Us” – Grover Washington, Jr. featuring Bill Withers (1981) / “Sexual Healing” – Marvin Gaye (1982).  I only got to pay attention to this No. 1 R&B hit by Miguel only after the Grammys, and I’m digging the song ever since.  It seems obvious now that this song easily is an excellent fit to be mashed up with the late Marvin Gaye’s last big hit (a mash-up was created for those two songs already), but oddly enough, I didn’t think of Marvin Gaye at the time–the first thing that came to my mind was that this could’ve been perfect to segue to “Just the Two of Us”.  Still, it wouldn’t hurt to add the Grover Washington / Bill Withers jam to add a touch of romance and a bit of innocence before the more obvious invitation to the boudoir offered by Miguel and Marvin Gaye.

“Domino” – Jessie J (2012) / “Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car” – Billy Ocean (1988) / “Dancing In The Moonlight” – Toploader (1999).  Jessie J’s song was one of my favorite ear candies.  But oddly enough, I couldn’t help but sing the chorus of the Billy Ocean song when I listen to the verses.  Then, when we get to the chorus, I couldn’t help but remember Toploader’s slick, poppy version of the 1973 King Harvest hit, and the “dirty dancing in the moonlight” lyrics in the chorus just made it an obvious match.

“Without You” – David Guetta featuring Usher (2011) / “With or Without You” – U2 (1987) / “Summer of ’69” – Bryan Adams (1985).  I wanted this song to become a big No. 1 hit, but it only peaked at No. 4 in the US.  It’s one of those rare dance-oriented songs that moved me emotionally–I sense Usher was not only singing about a girl  but also about seeking God and felt his vocals took it to church.  The lyrics can be interpreted in both a spiritual and an earthbound sense.  There is one other song, with a similar title and similar lyrical sentiments, that also could be interpreted both ways, and it could be updated with the groove David Guetta provided in this track–U2’s mega-hit “With or Without You”.  I heard an earlier mash-up where they used the David Guetta instrumental to this song over Bryan Adam’s “Summer of ’69” and I loved it.  I also saw a YouTube video of a live medley of band named Dan N’ Roll performing “With or Without You” and “Summer of ’69” so perhaps it can make sense to fuse all three songs together…

“Harlem Shake” – Baauer (2012) / “Gimme Some Lovin'” – Spencer Davis Group (1966) / “Boogie Wonderland” – Earth, Wind & Fire featuring the Emotions (1979).  The current internet meme craze is musically not what I’m into, but well, it’s now so prevalent that I can’t get it off my head anymore–and for some odd reason, I then segued to the rhythmic intro of the Spencer Davis Classic and then break to Steve Winwood’s singing.  Then, on some other days, I then imagined the groove of that danceable EWF classic, “Boogie Wonderland”.  Perhaps this amelodic noisy electro hit may serve as an unlikely bridge to mash up those two differing classics.

Admittedly some of my ideas could be a bit kooky and off-the-wall–imagine how weirder it gets when I bring out my take on K-Pop…

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

 

CROSS-GENERATIONAL MASH-UPS: TAYLOR SWIFT EDITION (featuring SHANIA TWAIN)

I originally intended to begin featuring miscellaneous artists in my next mash-up installment, but then, as I listened to the hits from Taylor Swift’s latest album, Red, I instantly thought, “this is Taylor’s Shania Twain record” noting how the sound of her latest album so blatantly crosses over into other genres besides country music, just like the way Shania courted the pop market with Come On Over and especially Up! (recall how the latter album comes in “Green”, “Red” and “Blue” editions representing country, pop, and Bollywood styles respectively).

“Any Man of Mine” – Shania Twain (1995) / “Pour Some Sugar on Me” – Def Leppard (1988) / “We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together” (2012).  Taylor’s launching single from her debut album was the song that made me instantly think of a connection with Shania, especially with the heavy beats that accompany the chorus.  I can imagine how Shania’s ex-husband and former producer Mutt Lange would beef that up if he’s at the helm producing Taylor’s song.  The Shania song that best fits and segues well to “We Are Never…” is “Any Man of Mine”, Shania’s first hit single from The Woman in Me.  And speaking of Mutt Lange, that trademark sound he has is first prominent with the work he did with Def Leppard, and sonically and melodically, “Pour Some Sugar on Me” was the first I could think of that would segue well with the aforementioned Shania and Taylor songs.  On the surface, lyrically it wouldn’t make sense to put those three in a mash-up, but then it dawned on me that it could be segued into a “break-up suite” with this story:  girl is cooling off from her boyfriend and hanging out with her friends talking about the crisis in her relationship and talking about what she really wants in a man with the Shania Twain song; then she caught said boyfriend painting the town red and wooing another girl with raunchy pick-up lines culled from “Pour Some Sugar on Me”; incensed, this put a nail in the coffin of their relationship and the girl launches into the Taylor Swift song.

“I Knew You Were Trouble” (2012) / “Ka-Ching!” – Shania Twain (2002).  A few days ago, while I was preparing my miscellaneous artists essay, I suddenly thought of another Taylor Swift-Shania Twain combo featuring Taylor’s other pop-oriented hit, “I Knew You Were Trouble”.  I thought of Shania’s Europe-only hit “Ka-Ching!”, and it makes for an interesting twist if you combine those two songs–the troublemaker in Taylor’s song may not be a person, but the obsession with material things even if it is beyond your means.  It does make odd sense especially in the post-2008 economy, doesn’t it?

“Does Your Mother Know” – ABBA (1979) / “Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)” – Shania Twain (1997) / “Mine” (2010).  For the third song, I dug back to an earlier Taylor Swift hit, from her previous album Speak Now and how it could segue into Shania’s hit “Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)”.  Then, when I think of the Shania hit, the chorus of that song could easily segue into the refrain after the chorus of ABBA’s 1979 hit “Does Your Mother Know” (the “Take it easy…” part).  Again, it may not easily make sense on the surface, but then I see a story evolving, about a man reluctant to date a girl because she’s too young for him, but the girl was relentless, and the man eventually gave in.  If the official story is to be believed, it makes me recall the love story of Celine Dion and her manager-husband Rene Angelil.

For the ABBA song, I’m posting the rock/hootenanny version they played in their February 1979 BBC TV special in Switzerland, not the official disco-fied mix they eventually released for their Voulez-Vous album.  It makes a better fit with the Taylor / Shania tunes.

Celine Dion and Rene Angelil at their 1996 wedding

Considering the relative scale of her success in this era, I believe Taylor Swift is this generation’s equivalent of Shania Twain.  Sure, I doubt that Taylor will be able to achieve Shania’s humongous album sales at her heyday, and Shania at her heyday was in a stable relationship with her producer-husband*  while Taylor’s unstable love life is well-documented tabloid fodder, the way both ladies courted an audience beyond the country constituent makes the comparison stick.  I think I might have additional ideas down the line for other songs in their oeuvre.

* Though Mutt Lange ended up a cad for eventually then leaving her by cheating on her with a decidedly homelier lady–oddly enough, Shania then ended up with the ex-husband of the other woman.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

CROSS-GENERATIONAL MASH-UPS: BRUNO MARS EDITION

In this installment of cross-generational mash-ups, I will talk about mashing up songs by Bruno Mars.  Now, several of Bruno Mars’ songs actually lend themselves to cross-generational mash-ups as Bruno’s sound tends to hearken back to earlier eras.  In one case, Bruno’s song may sound more retro than the older hit.  Here are some of my ideas:

“Locked Out of Heaven” (2012) /”Spirits in the Material World” – The Police (1981) / “Roxanne” – The Police (1978) /  “One Thing Leads to Another” – The Fixx (1983) / “Maniac” – Michael Sembello (1983).   Bruno’s latest No. 1 smash features a 1980s style arrangement–some reviewers often mention the Police when they talk about the song.  And for me, the best Police songs to fit as a mash-up for this number are the 1981 song “Spirits In the Material World” and with Bruno’s high register, their 1978 hit “Roxanne, but come to think of it, “Message In A Bottle”, “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” (the original version, not the much slower 1986 re-recording) and “De Do Do Do De Da Da Da” can be included in the mix, too. But it was another 1980s song that popped up in my head first when I listened to the Bruno Mars song–The Fixx’s “One Thing Leads to Another”.  Then some interludes in the song then made me think of Flashdance, particularly Michael Sembello’s smash “Maniac”. I have to also note how Bruno Mars’ video also evokes the aesthetic of the era–it looks so much like a 1982 music video in my eyes.  The only thing that would make it anachronistic is that the rock sound that Bruno employed would only be performed by white guys during that time–music videos featuring black artists prior to Michael Jackson’s Thriller breakthrough are very much R&B, soul, or disco.

“Nothin’ On You” – B.O.B. featuring Bruno Mars (2010) / “Being With You” – Smokey Robinson (1981) / “Just to See Her” – Smokey Robinson (1987) / “One Heartbeat” – Smokey Robinson (1987).  Whenever I try to sing the chorus/hook of “Nothin’ On You”, I can’t help but burst into a Smokey Robinson high-pitched falsetto impression as Bruno’s voice is set at such a high pitch, and then it dawned on me that Smokey himself can pull off this hook.  It also gave me a fantasy concept of having Smokey singing an EP of Bruno Mars songs, and Bruno doing a full album of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ classics.  It’s a given that Bruno will easily nail the Smokey classics, such is Bruno’s remarkable talent, and “Just the Way You Are” is such a perfect fit to Smokey’s romantic classics.  There are a couple of hitches to having that concept fully realized, though:  first, Smokey may balk at the profanity used in “Billionaire” (Bruno’s collaboration with Travis McCoy) and would object to the raunchy lyrics of “Runaway Baby” and even “The Lazy Song”; second, and most importantly, Bruno has some bad blood with Motown as he used to be signed with them when he was starting out but some idiot unceremoniously dropped him.  But then again, they can make adjustments to make it suitable for Smokey to sing them, and well, maybe the bad blood Bruno might have with Motown may not be that bad as without that stint he wouldn’t have formed his writing/production team the Smeezingtons and lay the foundation to his current success.

“Runaway Baby” (2010) / “Freestyler” – Boomfunk MC’s (1999).  You would think based on the retro-rave-up style of “Runaway Baby” that this would be the older song and the techno-styled “Freestyler” the more current one, but it’s such delicious irony that the latter song is more than ten years older.  But they share some melodic grooves that is why I think they could make a great mashup.

Well, that ends this edition of my Cross-Generational Mash-Ups.  Next week’s edition would not be devoted to one artist but to miscellaneous ones.  Hope mix-masters out there can use their imaginations and make my ideas come into fruition.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH