Tag Archives: Girl Talk


UnknownI found the early days of Netflix to be incredibly frustrating.  Despite my earnest attempts to allow their servers to get to know me, I kept finding myself being unwillingly shoved to the far edge of the long tail.  Even when I tried to convince them that I did indeed appreciate my fair share of mindless entertainment, I got volley after volley of French documentaries and forgotten TV series foisted upon me.  Although there was (is?) a part of me that wouldn’t mind being thought of as someone who appreciates French documentaries, forgotten in the entire process was the fact that I was there to be entertained.

I later learned that Netflix’s behavior was largely financially motivated (as they paid less for the obscure), but they are far from alone in romanticizing the distant end of the long tail.  The most recent service that promises to enrich your life by serving you up the incredibly obscure is Forgotify.   Inspired by recent statistics released from Spotify that evidence that 20% of the songs in their catalogue (a full four million) have never been played once, Forgotify will serve you up a song that has never been heard.

While it’s a cute premise, Forgotify’s promise is tantamount by helping you decide what to cook for dinner by suggesting a list of foods that nobody has ever eaten.  Even putting aside the fact that the reason why these songs/foods haven’t been consumed is the simple fact that they’re not worthy of consumption, Forgotify is trying to solve the wrong problem.

The real issue isn’t that forgettable music is being forgotten by the world; it’s that we don’t remember much of what we have already discovered to be awesome.  If Forgotify wanted to help me, it would tap into that track that made my week two years ago, but quickly found its way to the recesses of my hard drive.

I’ve written about this topic before, but it’s worth a quick re-hit.  Take the track below, “Play Your Part (Pt. 2) by Girl Talk (remember him?).  I’ve played this song over 20 times since downloading it (a non-trivial amount), but the last time I played this song was nearly a year ago.  Had I not made a point to look at what I was listening to a year ago, who knows if and when I’d ever enjoy this again.

Play Your Part (Pt. 2), Girl Talk

I always want to be exposed to the best of the new music in the world, and I’ll always want help with that.  But, equally, I want help remembering what I already love.  Both are equally important to any music lover.

The Next Girl Talk?

Wait, those are the hallmark bleeps of Postal Service… hold on, isn’t that Wonderwall–  but the version by Ryan Adams before he went off and married Mandy Moore and made that weird hard rock record in-between screeds that he would post on his website and then try to retract, and then is that a Radiohead track (it’s several, actually), and then did I just pick up bits from Morcheeba, Simian, Blur and even Bob freaking Marley?

If this sounds like a Girl Talk experience, it’s similar.  I distinctly remember the first time I heard Girl Talk: it was as if, all of a sudden, all the neurons tied in with my musical memory were firing simultaneously.  Think Limitless, but with music and without all the terrible movie bits.

But this song is different.  Despite Girl Talk’s genius (yes, I used that word), if we’re being honest we’ll admit that he knows only one tempo: full-out dance party.  Neither he nor anyone around him have every really managed to achieve the same kind of cultural cuisinart with tunes that are more cinematic and chill.  Until now.

A duo by the name of Inspired Flight has created a Girl Talk-esque track that manages to fire up all the parts of your musical brain while still staying smooth.  A sprawling, seven minute track that just set the benchmark for what a downtempo mash-up could be.  Brilliant, and just ready to be picked up by a movie that wants to re-invent what a lead soundtrack song could be.  And, in the interim, to be enjoyed on repeat play.

Wonderwall Remix, Inspired Flight

What Hip-Hop, Ballet, and A Chinese Cellist Can Teach Us About Creativity

Art is always at its most interesting at moments of collision: when two previously unacquainted elements of our culture combine to create something entirely new.

Often, artistic creativity is romanticized as the lightning strike through which a never-before-seen idea strikes from out of nowhere.  However sexy this may seem, the reality is almost always quite different.  As Steven Johnson details in his book Where Good Ideas Come From, “good ideas are not conjured out of thin air; they are built out of a collection of existing parts.”

Take Gutenberg as example.  Yes, the printing press guy.  Gutenberg’s breakthrough came through his ability to combine.  “Each of the key elements that made the printing press– the movable type, the ink, the paper, and the press itself– had been developed separately well before Gutenberg printed his first bible.”

“An important part of Gutenberg’s genius, then, lay not in conceiving an entirely new technology from scratch, but instead from borrowing a mature technology from an entirely different field, and putting it to work to solve an unrelated problem.  His radical breakthrough relied, instead, on on the ubiquity of the screw press in Rhineland winemaking culture, and in his ability to reach out beyond his specific field of expertise and concoct new uses for an older technology.  He took a machine designed to get people drunk and turned it into an engine for mass communication.”

Much of musical history can be traced through similar moments of artistic alchemy (see also: Run DMC and Aerosmith, mash-up culture best captured by Girl Talk, Reggaeton, Moombahton, Dubstep… you get the idea).

Though both elements existed before, watching them come together is exhilarating.

Anyone out there want to offer additional examples?

30 Words of Music, Day 14: Free

The last week in the music world must have made Chris Anderson awfully happy.  In the span of a few days, Girl Talk and J. Cole have crushed internet servers around the world as they have released two enormously-huge, entirely-free albums.  These are not commercial albums that are ripped by fans and “stolen” via shady fileshare sites.  Nor are they slapdash collections of not-even-b-sides table scraps.  And they’re not even Radiohead-esque choose-your-own price gambits.

Rather, these are fully produced albums released by genuinely famous artists.  Just like you would typically think about big album releases.  Except they’re absolutely, unhesitatingly free.  And, as such, they are both the clearest evidence yet that the savvy ones out there have completely embraced the fact that pre-recorded music is best-suited as advertising for other revenue streams.

Just-wait-a-second, you say.  Didn’t Taylor Swift flip a million in a week?  Yes, she did.  But the lesson to be taken from Taylor’s success is her powerful use of social media to relate to a world of transitioning tweens, and the remarkable commercial resilience of country music.  Oh, and she should thank Kanye.

What’s more remarkable and more accurate a reflection of culture is that J. Cole, with two successful mixtapes under his belt, the backing of Jay-Z, and a hyperventilating following on the blogosphere, chooses to drop Friday Night Lights as another free mixtape.  Nearly a year in the rap limelight and he has yet to release a single song that costs a single cent.

Here are two songs off the “album.”  They sound like finished songs that you might hear on the radio, right?  Exactly.






Before I’m Gone, J. Cole

Home For The Holidays, J. Cole

As if this weren’t enough, Girl Talk threw a new album of genre-defying, mega-mash-up fun into the world today.  Unless you’re patient and crafty on the internets, you don’t have a hope of getting this down from Girl Talk’s overloaded servers anytime soon.  But yet, I bestow upon you two tasty treats from the guy I’ve already proclaimed as the preeminent party DJ of this decade.  Damn, this guy is fun.






Jump on Stage, Girl Talk

Down for the Count, Girl Talk

Leading artists, using pre-recorded music to melt the internet in ways that propel them to even more fame and promote their concerts and their brand.  This is the new school.

Hey, as I sign off, I’m sorry about the extended absence.  I feel especially bad because I just checked traffic and it has stayed solid despite nothing new to look at.  I’m gonna make amends, I promise.  Even if it’s just to share new tracks… because I have a backlog of goodness to get out there.

Day 26: A Song that You Can Play on an Instrument

With the digitally driven democratization of music creation, what can we call an instrument these days?  Who qualifies as a musician?

As it often is, the purist’s argument is tempting.  It’s easy to clear one’s throat, gather the right gravitas of righteous indignation, and proclaim that instruments are what instruments have been: the presence of a demo version of Garage Band on your Mac doesn’t create music any more than does Guitar Hero.

As a music fanatic, I almost feel compelled to take a stand on this side of exclusivity.  The respect I have for live musicians borders on reverence, and its rarity elevates the impact of this talent.

But here’s the thing: I have (almost) enough respect for what people can create through the re-mix.  The ability to take create an entire song around a sample is the background of hip-hop music.  With that fact, the turntable became an instrument.  And the more recent technology that enables us to create music from a hyper-kinetic tableau of pop culture (think Girl Talk) has turned the laptop into an instrument.  Yes, it has.

Now just because you know how to loop a beat doesn’t mean that you have musical talent.  Trust me, I know this from experience.  Aside from spectacularly futile short-term jaunts with the clarinet and the guitar, I’ve had no success whatsoever with traditional instruments.  I guess that’s one of the reasons that I’ve been drawn to dj-ing: considering my creation as the selection and sequencing of music.  Using ideas and juxtapositions and builds to create and bend moods and atmospheres.  I’m still somewhat amateurish at it, but it’s quite fun and quite the creative challenge.  Here’s an old mix that I hadn’t shared digitally prior to now.  Enjoy this mix from 2003, I’d imagine for some of you it will be a nice bit of nostalgia and for others perhaps a bit of a musical discovery.  If all goes well, you should be able to click here and download the zip file with the music.  If that link doesn’t cooperate, try this one: http://www.mediafire.com/file/ujvy1tnzydo/Holiday%20Mix%202003.zip

And here’s the track list.  Do hope you enjoy it, holler if there’s anything that you’re particularly liking.  Am I a musician?  Probably not.  But an improving dj?  Perhaps.

Day 9: A Song that You Can Dance To

For the last few years now, the host of the best dance parties in the world has been a guy by the name of Greg Gillis.  Known as Girl Talk, he’s blown up our understanding of what makes dance music great  by taking all our collective musical memories and cuisinarting them into one crazy-nuts dance fiesta.  The resulting experience sparks innumerable knowing smiles of recognition just as it compels you to wave your arms in the air like you just don’t care.  Even though most mash-ups have a shelf life after which their novelty wanes, every one of Girl Talk’s *songs* still makes me want to dance on a moment’s notice.

My favorite Girl Talk story went down at the 2008 Lollapalooza, amidst a heat wave, a press of people, and an unexpected flurry of ice. Continue reading