Mashups: The Good, the Bad & the Why

OCTOBER 12, 2018

Mashups. Take one thing and another thing, mash them together, and see how it turns out. Sometimes it turns up unexpected synergies that delight the senses. Other times, crimes against humanity ensue. Let’s discuss…

Musical Mashups are usually fun. Sometimes genius. And almost always, at least an “A for Effort.” Musical Mashup successes I’d like to highlight are courtesy of Danger Mouse (the man, not the animated mouse) and Girl Talk (also a man, actually). Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse, seems to have a Magical Mouse Wand that he uses to grace musical projects far and wide. One of the more inspired of which is his production of The Grey Album. You take The Beatles’ White Album, slap it on top of Jay Z’s Black Album, and it shatters into genius. I bet you never thought you’d hear John Lennon singing back up to Jay Z. (Bet John Lennon didn’t see that coming either!) But “Oh Yeah…” now you can never un-hear it and that’s a wonderful thing. Awesome album. Give it a twirl.


Next up…Girl Talk! Mr. Gregg Gillis, aka DJ Girl Talk, must have a bunch of Mensa Squirrel Ninja’s scampering around in his brain. Gosh, I’d love to take a peek in there! How did he come up with these musical collisions?? Skipping willy-nilly across genres and decades, it all magically works. If you can’t burn a ton of calories on the treadmill listening to his album, Feed the Animals, then you might as well just take another nap. (But warning! If you’re used to listening to the “radio edit” version of these songs, keep a bar of soap nearby to wash out your ears.)

So, there you have it! Two fine examples of mashups gone right. Now…Q: Where do mashups go wrong?

A: In the cereal aisle of the grocery store. Why, why, WHY, would you make Chocolate Lucky Charms?!? Or Frosted Flake Lucky Charms?? Not good. Not good at all. These cereals are pushing the gastric envelope already with sugar crusted oat-shapes bouncing around a bevvy of pastel-hued marshmallows. So why is this happening?

I believe it’s happening because the cereal brands fear that their typical consumer has the attention span of a flea. This is generally true. (Could it be, perchance, from ingesting said pastel marshmallows? Hmmm?). Today’s children do seem to be inundated with such a barrage of constant audio and visual stimulation that it makes sense manufacturers might think this could affect their taste buds. I mean there’s even Swedish Fish Oreo cookies and gum that changes flavors two or three times as you chew it. (Forget George Orwell…Willy Wonka saw the future!)

But I think we’ve got to draw the line somewhere. Being a loyal fan of the mighty Cheerio (toasty-oaty-goodness in a bowl), perhaps I’m out of touch with the cereal needs of today’s youth. But there’s something to be said about preserving the original. Most of the classic “sugar cereal” varieties have been around for decades with their original formula and branding. Well, except for the you’re-not-fooling-anybody switch from “Sugar Smacks” to “Honey Smacks.”

Anyway, just leave the cereal alone. Look what happened when Coke tried to be “New” and Pepsi tried to be “Clear.” It wasn’t good. (Fire up your Wikipedia, young ‘uns, if you don’t know what I’m talking about.)

So, Musical Mashups? Absolutely. Cereal Mashups? Please stop. We love you just the way you are. Were. Whatever.