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Remixed the remix

by Julz

In this clip, we are presented with many different songs, which is essentially remixed into one song. Some of the songs that are presented in this one song collaboration are Trina’s “Don’t Trip”, SWV’s “I’m so into you, Young Jeezy’s “Over here” and “Soul Servivor”

 

This is a classic example of Remix and Remixability by Lev Manovich. Here you have a music group that were able to take music and videos respectively from other sources, MTV, MTV2, and BET, remix it and make it available to others.  Further more this was able to reach different musical cultures.  There was pop, rock, hip-hip, and soul. 

 

In his article, Manovich states that due to the use Creative Commons, artists are able to use and sample part of another artist’s work and make it new.  For example once The Band Girl-talk created their song it became a ‘new’ song. So although they are samping old songs, the end result is that they created a new song by remixing the sample of the songs.

remixing the remix

by Josh Eiserike

In 2006 Gregg Gillis, better known as Girl Talk, the Pittsburgh-based mashup artist, achieved a crossover hit with his single “Smash Your Head.” Girl Talk, who has went on to achieve wider notoriety, was propelled in the blogosphere based on his clever samples and mashes of preexisting songs. Indeed, on the second half of “Smash Your Head,” he pairs The Notorious BIG’s “Juicy” with Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” with captivating results.

This is exactly what Manovich is talking about when he writes, “The only fields where sampling and remixing are done openly are music and computer programming, where developers rely on software libraries in writing new software.”

Girl Talk’s music takes it to the extreme—it’s not a rapper spitting rhymes above a 70s funk sample. (In his article Manovich distinctly refers to 80s electronic music). These are pieces of preexisting songs- dozens, actually- reconfigured to create something new, with familiar choruses and hooks.

Although Manovich published his article in 2005, a year before Girl Talk’s single came out, it’s doubtful he ever heard of the Pittsburgh-based DJ. However, he very well may have been describing the music when he wrote,“It is interesting to imagine a cultural ecology where all kinds of cultural objects regardless of the medium or material are made from Legolike building blocks.”

 Or, to universalize it further, beyond Girl Talk,

 “…what seems to be happening is that the "users" themselves have been gradually "modularizing" culture. In other words, modularity has been coming into modern culture from the outside, so to speak, rather than being built-in, as in industrial production. In the 1980s musicians start sampling already published music; TV fans start sampling their favorite TV series to produce their own “slash films,” game fans start creating new game levels and all other kinds of game modifications. (Mods

“can include new items, weapons, characters, enemies, models, modes, textures, levels, and story lines.”)” Manovich writes.

 However, the issue here isn’t necessarily the act of mashup and remix, it’s still about artistry. Girl Talk’s music is extensively intricate, some songs using as much as a three note drum break from existing songs for an effect. This is researched, crafted and considered. Some of the mash-up videos on youtube, while passably clever (the Buffy v. Edward fight, for instance) seem dashed off in an afternoon- the eyelines are off, the color temperatures don’t match.  In other words, as entertaining as they may be, they are amateurish. Girl Talk, by contrast, has a much greater degree of artistic ingenuity and intention, even though they are both setting out to do something similar.

 It’s the difference between Shakespeare and poorly written Star Trek fan fiction. Both use existing and known characters (indeed- many of Shakespeare’s plays are, in essence, fan fiction). Or, to use a less extreme example, Alan Moore’s “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” takes existing literary characters and makes it work as an adventure of its own accord. Even in the world of remix and fan fiction there are degrees of artistic value.

 Which is what makes this fan video for “Smash Your Head” so fascinating. It’s a clever use of the song, mashing up the videos of songs used in the song, essentially annotating Girl Talk’s work. But on further inspection it’s not really that clever. What Girl Talk did was take something existing and put a new spin on it—who knew how good Elton and Biggie sounded together until Girl Talk dreamed it up? This video merely shows us what Girl Talk is doing, not really adding anything to the remix experience. In short, it’s a literal interpretation of the remix, not really pushing itself to the creative levels which Girl Talk shoots for in his music. There’s no commentary, no remix of the remix. It is, in essence, a book report on the song and misses the point of the possibilities of remix and mashup.

Girl Talk- "Smash Your Head" (fan video)

Fan video for Girl Talk's mash-up single "Smash Your Head" taking the videos of sampled songs and editing them to the music.

from Smash Your Head (2006)
Creator: Girl Talk
Distributor: Illegal Art
Posted by Survey of Interactive Media
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