Mashup (music)

A mashup (also mesh, mash up, mash-up, blend, bastard pop[1] or bootleg[2]) is a creative work, usually in a form of a song, created by blending two or more pre-recorded songs, typically by superimposing the vocal track of one song seamlessly over the instrumental track of another, changing the tempo and key where necessary.[3] To the extent that such works are "transformative" of original content, in the United States they may find protection from copyright claims under the "fair use" doctrine of copyright law.[4]


The 1967 Harry Nilsson album Pandemonium Shadow Show features what is nominally a cover of the Beatles' "You Can't Do That" but actually introduced the "mashup" to studio-recording.[5] Nilsson's recording of "You Can't Do That" mashes his own vocal recreations of more than a dozen Beatles songs into this track. Nilsson conceived the combining of many overlaying songs into one track after he played a chord on his guitar and realized how many Beatles songs it could apply to.[6] This recording has led some to describe Harry Nilsson as the inventor of the mashup.

The 1990 John Zorn album Naked City features a version of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" set over the bassline of Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman".[7][importance of example(s)?]

In 1994, the experimental band Evolution Control Committee released the first modern mashup tracks on their hand-made cassette album, Gunderphonic. These "Whipped Cream Mixes" combined a pair of Public Enemy a cappellas with instrumentals by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. First released on home-made cassettes in early 1992, it was later pressed on 7" vinyl, and distributed by Eerie Materials in the mid-1990s. The tracks gained some degree of notoriety on college radio stations in the United States.[8][third-party source needed]

The name Pop Will Eat Itself was taken from an NME feature on the band Jamie Wednesday, written by David Quantick, which proposed the theory that because popular music simply recycles good ideas continuously, the perfect pop song could be written by combining the best of those ideas into one track. Hence, "pop will eat itself".[9][importance of example(s)?]

The mashup movement gained momentum again in 2001 with the release of the 2 Many DJs album As Heard on Radio Soulwax Pt. 2 by Soulwax's Dewaele brothers, which combined 45 different tracks; the same year a remix of Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle" was also released by Freelance Hellraiser, which coupled Aguilera's vocals with the guitar track of "Hard to Explain" by New York's the Strokes, in a piece called "A Stroke of Genie-us".[10]

The mid-2000s saw a massive surge in popularity for the mashup, including single releases that climbed high into the dance charts and even the mainstream top-40 charts. Such hits include Linkin Park and Jay Z’s “Numb/Encore”, Party Ben’s “Boulevard of Broken Songs”, Alex Gaudino’s “Destination Calabria”, and Mylo’s “Doctor Pressure”. In 2001, Henry Mancini produced a mashup version of Every Breath You Take by The Police for the 27th Episode of The Sopranos 'Mr. Ruggerio's Neighborhood'. The Grey Album, which mashed up recordings by Jay Z and The Beatles, also became notoriously popular.

With the release of Rock Band in 2007 and its sequels later on, numerous mashup artists discovered that every song in the games had each instrument stored on separate tracks to each other, meaning that song instrumentals, acapellas and even individual instruments could easily be sampled and kept uncompressed and clear. American comedian Neil Cicierega used this method to produce his four mashup albums, Mouth Sounds, Mouth Silence, Mouth Moods and Mouth Dreams.

DJ Earworm’s annual “United States of Pop” mashups became season events, with his 2009 edition alone garnering critical acclaim as well as racking up more than 52 million views on YouTube. Mashups also helped launch the careers of acts such as Girl Talk and Madeon, with the latter’s “Pop Culture” accruing more than 55 million views. Acts such as DJs from Mars and Mashd N Kutcher would go on to make mashups a huge part of their creative output.

Launched in San Francisco in 2003, Bootie was the first club night in the United States dedicated solely to the burgeoning art form of the bootleg mashup, and now[when?] hosts monthly parties in several cities around the globe, including Los Angeles, Paris, Boston, Munich, and New York City. The party's slogan, "Music for the A.D.D. Generation" also inspired the creation of "A.D.D", Israel's first mashup-dedicated party.[11] The Best of Bootie mashup compilation series is compiled and produced each year by A Plus D, creators of the international mashup club Bootie. The compilations have been released in December every year since 2005, and are annual Internet sensations, with each album requiring 5,000 GB+ of download bandwidth.[12]

Video gamesEdit

DJ Hero is a 2009 rhythm video game developed by Activision that includes over 90 pre-made mashups, where the player scores points by hitting notes on the turntable controller.[13]

Fuser is a 2020 video game developed by Harmonix that allows the player to create mashups of over 100 songs, using four instrument stems from the master recording.[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 1) Sinnreich 2) Gluck, 1) Aram 2) Marissa (29 June 2005). "Music & Fashion: The Balancing Act Between Creativity and Control" (PDF). Norman Lear Center: 1–45.
  2. ^ Rojas, Pete (1 August 2002). "Bootleg culture". Salon. Archived from the original on 17 June 2006.
  3. ^ Geoghegan, Michael and Klass, Dan (2005). Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Podcasting, p.45. ISBN 1-59059-554-8.
  4. ^ "Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video". Center for Social Media, American University. 22 February 2010. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010.
  5. ^ Fennessey, Sean (6 August 2013). "Deconstructing Harry". Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  6. ^ Myers, Mitch (6 March 2019). "How Harry Nilsson Made the Beatles' Catalog Into His Own Russian Doll, Creating Rock's First Great Mashup". Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  7. ^ Santoro, Gene (1994). Dancing in Your Head. ISBN 9780195356427. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ "Who the hell is Clint Mansell?". Archived from the original on 10 October 2004. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  10. ^ Jam, Billy (23 May 2007). "Music For Generation ADD: Mashups quietly mature into a thriving subculture". New York Press. Archived from the original on 25 July 2008.
  11. ^ "Mashup best-of 2006 album". Boing Boing. 11 January 2007. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  12. ^ "DJ Hero Was the Closest We Ever Got to Mixing Music and Gaming".
  13. ^ "Harmonix's new game Fuser lets you mash together pop songs". 26 February 2020.

Further readingEdit