What do Iggy Pop’s track “Lust for Life,” the Beastie Boys’ “Hey Ladies” and Lady Gaga’s “Lovegame” have in common? Besides being catchy hit singles and totally awesome, all three tracks mix together to form a mere 30 seconds on Girl Talk’s newest album entitled All Day.
You won’t find All Day in stores. That’s because the epic 71 minute mash up from Pittsburgh’s Gregg Michael Gillis, better known as Girl Talk, is not exactly legal. The list of artists and tracks sampled on the album is formidable, and none of the samples have been paid for. Girl Talk claims that his use of clips falls under the “fair use” designation of copyright law; he uses very small portions of each song, and layers the sounds in such a way that the resulting product is worlds away from the original work he uses. Girl Talk is taking the mash up genre mainstream, and it’s catching on.
All Day is Girl Talk’s fifth album and is released on the Illegal Art label. It became available as a free download on illegal-art.net/allday on November 15th and has been on constant iPod rotation at my house since then. The album is meant to be listened to all at once and is released as one seamless file, although it’s possible to download it as individual tracks.
The beats are catchy in their familiarity, but at the same time Girl Talk has made new songs out of old ones. There are at least 350 songs sampled from a huge variety of genres, including both mainstream and independent rap and hip hop, classic rock, pop, disco, new wave and “indie” rock. The successful mixing of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” and Ludacris’ “Move Bitch” opens the album and is a hint of what is to come: a lively, genre-busting, raucously energetic smashing together of popular music.
All Day is the perfect album to give to someone who has been living under a pop culture rock for the last 30 years. Combining riffs from Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” with the chorus of M.O.P.’s “Ante Up” (to name just one of the hundreds of mash ups), the album is a who’s who of popular music from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 00’s. Pairings like “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Radiohead’s “Creep” will make you wanna simultaneously dance and croon. Every second of All Day is saturated with sounds from at least 3 different artists.
But does it all sound good together? Girl Talk’s popularity both in downloads and as a party DJ seems to indicate that people like what he’s puttin’ down. It’s fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It successfully weaves fibres from myriad sources together to make a fabric that stands solidly on its own, simultaneously defining and reinforcing the intertextuality of the pop culture of our generation. Girl Talk can combine N.E.R.D. with Billy Joel and have hipsters dancing, and that’s remarkable.