Tag Archives: Rhianna

A Mash-Up of Emotions

From its early days, the mash-up has been an act of cleverness as much as creation; a knowing nod of juxtaposition between DJ and music fan.  But, when the lyrics of Rhianna and The xx are combined live and set to a spare guitar riff, the resultant alchemy is far more emotional than musical.

As they’re reimagined by Taylor Mornsen of The Pretty Reckless, “Love the Way You Lie” and “Islands” become a single cloth of regret now written entirely from the woman’s perspective.   Continue reading

As it Comes Together…

With the transparency and intimacy enabled by digital media, music fans now have the opportunity to listen to a track being built right there in front of our eyes and ears.  No longer sealing themselves in the studio until a track is deemed “finished,” artists now leak works in progress to build anticipation and garner feedback during the creative process.  An alluring recent example of this is J. Cole’s new track “Problems.”  Dropped last week on a mixtape, the track is one of the most interesting I have of a half-done hip-hop song.

Problems, J. Cole

Built around a spare but catchy beat, this song has highly polished rhymes that continue to mark J. Cole as someone whose observations are as sharp as his flow.  Maybe it’s just me, but I also hear in this song purposeful echoes of 99 Problems, one of his boss’ most famous tracks.

But, just as you might be drawn in to the beat and the verses, you’ll notice all these empty bars through the song.  Placeholders, for a hook to be added later.  If I were a betting man, I would say that a female vocalist is going to drop in, much like Rhianna here, or Erykah Badu here.

Some might say that it’s crazy to leak a song that’s not quite done.  But I think that, if it’s well-managed, it’s a great way to engage fans not only in the consumption but in the creative process.  I’ll keep a lookout for the next version of this song, and we can continue the conversation.

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