For ninth grade English, one of the books we had to read was Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie. I highly recommend it- it was a beautiful book. That’s not my point. Right. Okay, so there was a part of the book that talked about the Sea of Stories. There were fish within this sea and they ate stories and reworked them while digesting them, and they came out with entirely new stories out of the components of the old.
This, to me, is the essence of mash-up. You take two or more concepts, narratives, stories, and you mix them together and make something new. Because of the associations we have with the components, their own meanings take on new aspects in light of the remixing.
However, I have to admit: if one of the components is from an obscure story or source, the message loses some of the force. For instance, if nobody knew about Requiem for a Dream, part of Collegehumor’s remix of the York Peppermint Patty commercial would lose some clout. Since it is a recognizable source, it creates a very strong remix. Check it out:
So, where does the limit of mash-up occur? What constitutes a mash-up, rather than just a rote parroting? Is a music video really a mashup? There’s a bit of a blurred line there, IMO.
When I was younger, I LOVED AMVs (Anime Music Videos). Fans of a specific anime would put clips to music. Sometimes a lot of thought went into these AMVs, sometimes not. It was often difficult to tell. However, it was fun to look at and sometimes the video would skew my perspective of the song. I have purchased music based off of those music videos.
[On a side note- I just drank an energy drink and now I'm getting really hyper, but I'm writing this during class so I can't do anything about it and I moved away from this page and now WordPress is telling me that it can't perform that action, but Goddammit, I'm not Hal, so it better not spazz out and OW FEEDBACK. JIM GROOM, AUGH.]
Let’s look at some AMVs. Or music videos in general. Yeah, let’s do that.
Chibi sent me a link to this. It is amazing and I love how they got the mouths to match the lyrics. I would consider this a mashup given the amount of thought put into it. Not to mention, the meanings of the components are skewed by the mixing of the two.
Let’s take a look at System of a Down’s Chop Suey mixed with Final Fantasy Advent Children. That’s been done so many times, the videos on Youtube are probably countless. However, some of them are definitely stronger than others. I have a special place in my heart for this example since one such video sent to me by my brother started my high school AMV kick and introduced me to System of a Down all in one blow. The combination is excellent due to the frenetic pacing of parts of the song and parts of the movie.
First, one that isn’t terrible strong. It’s a series of clips set to the song. The author didn’t seem to put a lot of thought into the timing and placement of the clips, so it doesn’t feel like a remix.
Now, take a look at this one. Despite some really weird transitions between widescreen and fullscreen, the author of the video makes some really good choices about the timing, editing the speed of the clips, and other things.
This next video may not be appropriate for all viewers. Remember Avenue Q? Well, some bright person put The Internet is For Porn to Disney clips. This is the result.
Now, Chibi, Mauve, and I agree that this is a mash-up. It definitely changes our perspective on its components by the comparison within the mix. I think it’s much stronger near the end.
Speaking of Disney, have you heard Nick Pitera? He has a bunch of videos on Youtube where he sings Disney songs. Mauve says that his others videos are just plain covers, but this following video is a mash-up. Thoughts?
Okay, so after a couple weeks of looking for this video, I have found it. In hindsight, it should not have taken me this long. It represents everything I love about music remixes. I despise some of the songs that are in it, but they actually ADD to the remix as a whole. Check it out:
Collegehumor is where I tend to find good remixes of songs. Here’s another one.
But we’ve also got parodies like This here Anakin Guy by Weird Al and Frodo Don’t Wear the Ring by Flight of the Conchords. Could you count them as mash ups? I think they are, but it’s a loose interpretation of the term mash-up perhaps.
Then, we’ve got to ask ourselves, “What about people who write covers of songs? If they put lyrics to a previously lyric-less song is that a mash-up or is it just a parroting of the same theme?” Since I like inclusiveness, I would consider Kate Covington’s cover of Roses of May (originally by Nobuo Uematsu for Final Fantasy IX) as a mash-up. She adds extra meaning to a song that already has ties to some cultural source (a videogame).
Here’s a violin cover of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, played by Joe Edmonds. Excellent!
But does this add meaning or another layer to the original song? It’s a cool arrangement, sure, but should it be included with remix culture? I’m inclined to agree with Mauve when she says that it’s pretty, but it’s not really remix.
Since I can’t draw any overarching conclusions about remix culture, here are some videos we found in the course of this discussion:
Muse versus Lady Gaga? How does it work so well?!?
Love this remix:
As Chibi said, “I love remixes.”