Thursday, February 12, 2009

Top 20 Of 2008: #4

4. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals

In terms of sheer listening time, Girl Talk is far and away the winner of 2008 for me. I listened to it while running, driving, working, pretty much anything. It's an incredible achievement, a mash-up album that feels like a living piece of art rather than a novelty. And it mashes together Kelly Clarkson and Nine Inch Nails. Brilliant.

Going back and listening to Girl Talk's previous records, it's kind of hard to see where Feed the Animals came from. The previous records were novelty pieces, sped up to the point of mutilation and lacking a coherent vibe. Granted, there were some pretty cool tricks up his sleeve, but they were largely forgettable affairs, just more mash-ups to add to the scrum.

Feed the Animals is different in several ways. First, it's a single piece rather than a collection of songs, and so it feels like it's always driving towards something and adding to the whole at every point. Additionally, Greg Gillis has slowed things down. He doesn't rely any more on hyper-accelerated beats and frenetic cuts to create a mood. Instead, he blends recognizable pop together using the strengths of each song to propel momentum forward. The snobs dismissed those who loved this record as being late to the mash-up party, but in all honesty this is the first mash-up record since The Grey Album that's actually relevant to a mainstream audience. Say what you want about him, at least Gillis isn't just talking to himself like so many others who do this.

I wrestled over whether to give such a high ranking to an album consisting of nothing but found sound, but at the end of the day this album was a watershed moment in music. In my mind it signals the mainstreaming of sampling culture and the end of a previous era of copyright. The fact that no one has yet sued Gillis is amazing. I'm sure someone eventually will, and then we'll have to decide as a country how much power we want to put in the hands of media companies. It's absurd that art like this can't be created without fear of legal bludgeoning. It's a sign of a broken legal system and a broken copyright system. Here's to hoping that the ability to remix and remake culture remains a vital part of our human rights.


Blogger Tara said...

Do you think I'd like this one? I never bought it because it sounded weird to me in the samples.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Cliff said...

Definitely! Try it the next time you go for a run. You won't regret it!

11:42 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home