Mashup (music)  

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"There have been a number of novelty records and one-off hits that have included uncleared samples. The song "Your Woman" by White Town features an uncredited sample from a 1932 song "My Woman" by the Lew Stone Band taken from the soundtrack of the Dennis Potter series Pennies From Heaven." --Sholem Stein

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Mashup, or bootleg, is a musical genre which, in its purest form, consists of the combination of the music from one song with the a cappella from another. Typically, the music and vocals belong to completely different genres. At their best, bastard pop songs strive for musical epiphanies that add up to considerably more than the sum of their parts.



Though the term "bastard pop" first became popular in 2001, the practice of assembling new songs from purloined elements of other tracks stretches back to the beginnings of recorded music. If one extends the definition beyond the realm of pop, precursors can be found in Musique concrète, as well as the classical practice of (re-)arranging traditional folk material and the jazz tradition of reinterpreting standards. In addition, many elements of bastard pop culture have antecedents in hip hop and the DIY ethic of punk.

The 1999 Eminem album The Slim Shady LP with a cappella vocals from the track "My Name Is" combined with the music of many other artists, including "Back in Black" by AC/DC, "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice, and "This Charming Man" by The Smiths served as an early inspiration for the British bastard pop movement.

In the mid-1990s, bastard pop was not yet a distinct genre, but formed a significant portion of the output of a few North American experimental artists such as John Oswald, Negativland, the Evolution Control Committee, and the Emergency Broadcast Network. At that time the tracks, when they were referred to at all, were often just considered "remixes", though some other terms were used, such as tape manipulations, cut-ups, and mashups.



"Quodlibet" is a classical form of "remixing". While these examples are not always strictly illegitimate, they capture the sense of genre collision (A v B) characteristic of "bastard" pop. Modern classical analogues include various works by PDQ Bach such as the "Unbegun Symphony" which is composed entirely of others' works, notably a passage blending of Tchaichovsky's "1812 Overture" with the song "You Are My Sunshine". John Oswald has also composed several concert works he labels as Rascali Klepitoire, which are radical transformations of well-known pieces from the classical repertoire. As J. Peter Burkholder shows in his book "All Made of Tunes, Charles Ives and the Uses of Musical Borrowing" [1] American composer Charles Ives frequently quoted the works of others throughout his compositions, including hymns, popular tunes, marches, and often the music of Stephen Foster.

I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue

The popular BBC Radio 4 panel show I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue features a section known as One Song To The Tune Of Another where the panelists have to, quite literally, sing the words of one song to the tune of another one, usually in the form of piano accompaniment.

Some of the humour derives from the incongruity caused by differences between the songs involved. They may differ wildly in genre, structure, tempo, and time signature, but unlikely combinations have sometimes worked surprisingly well. Examples include:

A contribution to the effectiveness of the rendition is made by the pianist Colin Sell who, given the poor vocal skill of the panelists, often has a much more difficult task than is usually required.

"The Flying Saucer"

In 1956, Bill Buchanan and Dickie Goodman caused a musical sensation by releasing the first mainstream bastard pop single (though they referred to it as a "break-in" song, i.e. material from one song would "break-in" to another), "The Flying Saucer". The track, a reinterpretation of Orson Welles' celebrated War of the Worlds mock-emergency broadcast interspliced with musical snippets comically dramatizing the portentous patter of the announcer, spawned a raft of imitations and quickly became a craze, only to pass into oblivion within the space of a year.

Novelty records

There have been a number of novelty records and one-off hits that have included uncleared samples. The song "Your Woman" by White Town features an uncredited sample from a 1932 song "My Woman" by the Lew Stone Band taken from the soundtrack of the Dennis Potter series Pennies From Heaven. Other notable one-off bootlegs include DNA's dance remix of Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner" (1990) and "You Got The Love" by The Source featuring Candi Staton (1991). Vega received quite a few unsolicited mixes of her (a cappella) song, and eventually issued an entire c.d. of "Tom's Diner" mixes, one notable example being "Jeannie's Diner", in which a resung verse based on Vega's composition describes the premise of the situation comedy "I Dream of Jeannie". "Tom's Diner" is likely to be the first song that was "mash mixed" as we now know the process.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, during the disco boom, DJ pools would sometimes issue medley discs to their members. While not technically featuring a sample, one such record that achieved moderate chart and club success in the U.S. was Club House's 1983 medley of Steely Dan's "Do It Again" with Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean". This medley hit both the Pop and R&B charts in August/September 1983.

One series (and probably the first) was John Morales' (later one half of M and M productions) "Deadly Medley"s, in which he mixed-up disco hits of the moment to form beat-consistent collages. In the 1980s, Dutch producer Jaap Eggermont produced the Stars on 45 series of records. These records attempted to cram as many hits as possible into the space of a three and a half minute pop song, and are perhaps more accurately described as medleys. Though these singles have never received critical plaudits, the medley idea would later resurface in a more respectable form (for instance Coldcut's "Beats and Pieces"), and, moreover, the deliberately humorous tone of the "Stars on 45" singles has not entirely disappeared. One must also remember the huge successes of "Weird Al" Yankovic's lyrical parody of pop hits, which earned him a seemingly tenured spot on MTV during the channel's heyday. Many bastard pop songs have been produced in jest, with the emphasis very firmly on satire, "irresistible" puns, or simple throwaway fun.

Frank Zappa

In the 1970s, Frank Zappa developed a technique he called "xenochrony" in which a guitar solo was extracted from its original context and placed into a completely different song – essentially bastard pop for guitar rather than vocals. His recording engineer referred to this as "the Ampex guitar". In his rock opera Joe's Garage (1979), for example, Zappa's xenochrony can be heard on every track apart from Packard Goose.

"Rubber Shirt" from the album Sheik Yerbouti consists of a bass track and a drum track taken from two different live performances melded together in the studio.

John Oswald

John Oswald has been devising illegitimate compositions since the late 1960s. His 1975 track "Power" married frenetic Led Zeppelin guitars to the impassioned exhortations of a Southern US evangelist at the same time that hip hop was discovering the potency of the same (and related) kinds of ingredients. Similarly, his 1990 track "Vane", which pitted two different versions of the song "You're So Vain" (the Carly Simon original and a cover by Faster Pussycat) against each other, was a blueprint for the contemporary bastard pop subgenre, glitch pop. Oswald coined the term "plunderphonics" to describe his illegitimate craft. In 1993, he released Plexure. Arguably his most ambitious composition to date, it attempted to microsample the history of CD music up to that point (1982 - 1992) in a 20 minute collage of bewildering complexity. The ambition of this piece would later be recalled by the British bootlegger Osymyso, whose "Intro-Inspection" captured the pop-junkie feel of Plexure. Osymyso, who at the time was unaware of Oswald's work, used the same structure of an accelerando (arranging his source material in order from the slowest tempo to the fastest) to link a few bars each of 100 songs, creating a simpler sound than the thousands of overlapping and morphing pop "electroquotations" in Plexure.


Though Negativland are seldom acknowledged as musical antecedents of bastard pop, lacking perhaps the sense of fun many contemporary practitioners seek in their craft, their struggle against various forms of "censorship" (in their terms) and legal coercion (for instance, their single "U2" was one of the first pieces of music to be withdrawn for its use of unauthorised samples) has made them poster children for some bastard pop commentators who approach the issue from a more critical perspective, and with an eye to the complicated cultural issues raised by both accidental and deliberate plundering within music and culture generally.

The JAMs and The KLF

In the wake of these somewhat academic explorations, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, entered the arena in 1987 with an album of plunderphony which, while still serving as a critical reflection on the nature of pop music and the power and potential of the sampler, upped the ante by being (almost) music one could dance to as well as think about. Their debut album, released under the name The JAMs, 1987 (What the Fuck Is Going On?), was banned (thanks to its raft of uncleared samples, most notably the bulk of ABBA's "Dancing Queen"), and a number of the songs have the same "laptop punk" "anyone can do it" attitude that characterizes bastard pop today. The JAMs morphed into The KLF (rumoured to be short for "Kopyright Liberation Front") in 1988 and continued to pursue the same art-prankster agenda, most notably with their number 1 hit (under the name The Timelords), "Doctorin' the Tardis".

Double Dee and Steinski

Though the JAMs grazed the charts and The KLF, for a while at least, practically dominated them, illegitimate pop had remained largely an underground affair since the original "break-in" craze swept the US in 1956.

Working under the name Steinski, New York copywriter, DJ and self-confessed record junkie Steve Stein began (in conjunction with engineer and fellow studio boffin Doug "Double Dee" DiFranco) the next chapter in the evolution of illicit pop by producing a trio of underground 12" singles (entitled "The Payoff Mix" (1983), "Lesson 2 (The James Brown Mix)" (1984) and "Lesson 3 (History of Hiphop)" (1985)) which exerted a powerful influence on an entire generation of "samplists" and continues to be cited to this day as a landmark in the history of "sampledelica". Indeed one can trace a line from Double Dee and Steinski through Coldcut's "Say Kids What Time Is It?" (which begat Bomb The Bass' "Beat Dis", which, in turn, begat LA Mix's "Check This Out") to DJ Shadow (who paid his dues on a track entitled "Lesson 4") and The Avalanches - and (through M/A/R/R/S' "Pump Up The Volume") to Black Box, whose "Ride on Time" spread the gospel of sample wizardry far and wide, from the depths of the underground to the top of the charts. Black Box proved to the major labels that a legitimate (and more appealingly to a corporation) profitable market was springing up from bedroom turntables. After an initial white label period, Black Box sought (and received) legal clearance for their usage of Dan Hartman's song "Love Sensation" and samples of the Salsoul Records recording of such by Loleatta Holloway.

Emergency Broadcast Network

In 1995, Emergency Broadcast Network released "3:7:8", the first exclusively video sample based song.

The three Rhode Island School of Design graduates - Joshua Pearson, Gardner Post and Ron O'Donnell - released their self-titled video on TVT Records. It combined video and audio samples of politicians and celebrities in such an artful way that U2, despite their earlier skirmish with Negativland, invited them to accompany them on their Zoo TV Tour as video artists.

Evolution Control Committee

In 1994, the experimental band Evolution Control Committee released what are widely credited as being the first modern bastard pop tracks on their hand-made cassette album, Gunderphonic. These "Whipped Cream Mixes" combined a pair of Public Enemy a cappellas with instrumentals by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. First released on home-made cassettes in the early 1990s, likely in 1991 or 1992, it was later pressed on 7" vinyl, and distributed by Eerie Materials in the mid 1990s, the tracks gained some degree of notoriety on college radio stations in the United States[2]. On the heels of this release, the band gained a larger following with tours in the United States, Europe, and Australia, and has since released several well-known mashups while continuing the pursuit of other experimental styles.


2 many DJ's and "A Stroke of Genie-us"

The name Pop Will Eat Itself was unabashedly "stolen" from an NME feature on the band Jamie Wednesday, written by David Quantick, which proposed the theory that because popular music simply recycles good ideas continuously, the perfect pop song could be written by [combining] the best of those ideas into one track. Hence, Pop Will Eat Itself.

The movement gained momentum again in 2001 with the release of two seminal landmarks: the 2 Many DJs album, by Soulwax's Dewaele brothers (As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt. 2), which combined 45 different tracks in a frenzied vindication of the "pop will eat itself" prophesy, and a remix by Freelance Hellraiser of Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle" which coupled the (then) demure pop princess with the raucous guitars of "Hard To Explain" by New York's The Strokes in an infectious concoction entitled "A Stroke of Genie-us". This track became one of the most talked about underground hits of 2001, and was featured in many "best of" lists at the end of the year.

2manydjs is the "nom-de-turntable" of two Belgian brothers, David and Stephen Dewaele, who spent two years clearing the samples for their album, so their landmark was not entirely illegitimate, though they continued to work in the shadowy interzone between legitimacy and copyright "felony".

The Freelance Hellraiser track, in contrast, was never officially released, and indeed most bastard pop songs are only made available (for free) online (i.e. not commercially) in a not-always-successful attempt to avoid "cease and desist" notices from the copyright holders.

Occasionally, however, a song gains so much underground momentum that a commercial release becomes inevitable. The earliest example of this was Richard X (working under the name Girls On Top), whose 2002 track "We Don't Give a Damn About Our Friends" grafted an old Adina Howard a cappella onto the music of Tubeway Army's "Are 'Friends' Electric?". The song became so popular that it was released with re-recorded vocals by Sugababes (under the title "Freak Like Me"), though their version was, by design, almost indistinguishable from the "original". The single went straight to number one in the UK charts, making it the first bastard pop crossover hit.

2001 also saw the release of DJ Z-Trip and DJ P's mashup project Uneasy Listening Volume 1, an eclectic mix of rock, hip hop, electro, and pop from the 1960s to the 1990s that melded Metallica to Midnight Oil, Naked Eye to Public Enemy, and AC/DC to DJ Red Alert. DJ Z-Trip had made earlier excursions into the genre with live performances such as 1998's Live at the Future Primitive Soundsession: Vol 2 and Future Primitive 45 Night. DJ P won the DMC Midwest Championship and in the 1999 DMC finals in San Francisco received the only standing ovation of the event Template:Citation needed with his innovative style. Where both of these DJs differ from most "mashup" DJs is that they can perform most, if not all, of their blends live with only their vinyl records and their turntables ... a feat that takes much more skill Template:Citation needed than most other DJs of the genre who have gained more notoriety.

In the same year, Kylie Minogue lent her support to the burgeoning genre by performing Soulwax's mashup of New Order's "Blue Monday" and her own hit "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" entitled "Can't Get Blue Monday Out of My Head" at the BRIT Awards.

More recently, Go Home Productions has released "Ray of Gob", which splices together Madonna's "Ray of Light" and the Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant" and "God Save the Queen". The single, which was voted "Bootleg of the Year" in 2003, was cleared by the representatives of both parties and the track even earned the approbation of the Pistols' guitarist Steve Jones.

Napster and Audiogalaxy

In the wake of these developments, hundreds of bedroom DJs and songwriters were inspired to make their own "bastard pop" confections. The demise of Napster and Audiogalaxy, while initially making it harder for amateurs to acquire the precious raw materials (i.e. a cappellas and instrumentals) cheaply (i.e. for free), quickly led to the birth and meteoric rise of alternative P2P networks such as Kazaa, Limewire, Emule and, more recently, BitTorrent (although the latter is more commonly used to distribute entire albums, rather than individual tracks). Where once music aficionados could trade only MP3s, it now became possible to acquire not only music, but the technology to manipulate that music freely and easily.

The general description of mashups is the result in which a vocal from one song is laid over the music from another. However, others view mashups as a form of rebellion to the commercialization of pop music. With music piracy issues aside, one critic believes that a mashup is "an expression of consumer dissatisfaction. Armed with free time and the right software, people are rifling through the lesser songs of pop music and, in frustration, choosing to make some of them as good as the great ones." (Sasha Frere-Jones, "1+1+1+1=1." New Yorker, 01/15/2008.) Many prominent mashup artists and communities believe that the objective of the consumptive power of the mashup and home remix community is to encourage record labels, publishers, and artists to consider giving the high quality productions of "illegitimate" music a legitimate consideration as a promotional avenue for all music.

Software tools

As a result of this, industry standard tools such as the digital audio workstation Cubase and the sound editors Wavelab, Soundforge, WavePad and Cool Edit Pro quickly became ubiquitous. Moreover, new tools such as Ableton Live, MixPad and, most popular of all, Sonic Foundry's (now Sony's) ACID Pro were tweaked to accommodate the needs of this new "scene". Most notably, such features as beat-mapping (a technique which simplifies the synchronization of samples of different tempos) and online previewing (allowing the composer to audition a sample, playing at the right pitch and tempo, alongside their existing composition) made it easy for many people with musical ability but little professional studio experience to knock together new combinations in a fraction of the time it would take with traditional tools, such as the magnetic tape John Oswald (and even Coldcut) slaved over in their early days.

Mark Vidler, known as Go Home Productions, summarized it by saying the benefits of such technology of AcidPro: "You don't need a distributor, because your distribution is the internet. You don't need a record label, because it's your bedroom, and you don't need a recording studio, because that's your computer. You do it all yourself.

Boomselection, Get Your Bootleg On, Mashuptown, Bootie, Sound Unsound

Every new scene must have its "water cooler" and its journal, and in the case of bastard pop circa 2001-2002, Get Your Bootleg On established itself as the former while Boomselection took on the role of "blog of record". Not merely reflecting the scene, Boomselection publicised various challenges which resulted in hundreds, if not thousands, of new bootlegs being uploaded to sites around the world. While the scene began as a primarily British phenomenon, the USA, France and Germany are currently the hotbeds of the modern mashup movement. However, there are notable bootleggers to be found in practically every corner of the globe - wherever an Internet connection and a record collection can be found - including Australia, Belgium, Switzerland, and Sweden.

The Get Your Bootleg On site (affectionately abbreviated to GYBO) is the main launchpad for new bastard pop tunes, and is the home of a lively community of bootleggers who offer critiques of new songs, tips for newbies, pointers on where to find a cappellas, legal advice, publicity for mashup events and general discussion of issues surrounding the bastard pop phenomenon.

The name "Get Your Bootleg On" comes from the Missy Elliott track "Get Ur Freak On", which alongside Eminem's "Without Me" remains perhaps the most bootlegged, manipulated, remixed and reinterpreted song of the genre. Other popular, frequently-bootlegged artists include Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Madonna, and Beyoncé.

In early 2005, Boomselection retired itself after a long period of inactivity. The year also marked a series of cease-and-desist orders brought against a number of bootleg sites, and in early 2006 GYBO received its first such notice. To survive, the site prohibited the posting of direct links to copyrighted material within the forums, but allowed users to post links to their own sites containing such material, the defense being that now GYBO was no more in violation of copyright law than Google. For the most part, the community has rallied around the site, and continues to support it in its new form.

The void left by Boomselection's demise was rapidly replaced by Mashuptown, which was started in early 2005 is currently the biggest blog source of mashups on the internet. The site has recently become the official supplier of mashups to Adam Curry's Daily Source Code podcast.

Also in 2005, Bootie (club night), the biggest bootleg mashup party in the world, began its monthly Bootie Top 10, where it posts for free download its ten best mashups, as selected by Bootie creators and DJs A Plus D. Launched in San Francisco in 2003, Bootie was the first club night in the United States dedicated solely to the burgeoning artform of the bootleg mashup, and now hosts monthly parties in several cities around the globe, including Los Angeles, Paris, Boston, Munich, and New York City.

In January 2008, Sound Unsound was launched as a reaction to GYBO's enforced ban on long mixes and podcasts. Since its inception, it has released several mashup albums. Sound Unsound differs from GYBO in that there is enhanced interactivity between members through communal compilation albums, an integral radio station, chat room, and arcade.

In addition, the scene has a number of other sites which provide downloads, links, podcasts, previews, user vote-based rankings such as,, and Mashup Charts.

Also, the Bastard Pop News blogroll is a Web mashup of data feeds from over one hundred mashup artists, blogs and news sites and combines them into a single feed.

Bonna Music and Enjoy The Sheket

Legal mashups are hard to find, but in some relatively small music markets, legal mashups have been released. Some say that this is because publishers have understood the potential of clearing the rights of major international artist to be combined with local repertoires, to create a wider consumption for both artists on a given track.

In Israel for example, a group called Bonna Music remixed the Depeche Mode song Enjoy the Silence with Balagan's Sheket (which means silence in Hebrew). The mashup was approved by Martin Gore and released officially a month before Depeche Mode's new album Playing the Angel in 2005. It was a major hit locally and when Depeche Mode's first single was released they were more welcome in a market where the local repertoire is dominant.


Since 2005, French bootlegger artist ToToM has been a cult-favorite through mashup and remix boards with release of over 100 mashup tunes along with several albums (see the albums section below) and recently broadcast Le Mix De ToToM podcast. He is best known for such hits as We're In This Blurred Line Together (which blends Nine Inch Nails The Line Begins To Blur with We're In This Together as well as minor parts of Closer), Madonna and The News (which blends Madonna's "Hung Up" with Huey Lewis and the News's "The Power of Love", Bootleggers Rhapsody (which blends Ramones, Nine Inch Nails, The Doors and David Bowie over Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen) and many more.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Mashup (music)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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