Updated Nov, 13th 2012
Mash-Ups Are Over
The other night I was out at a bar, feeling nice, when Robin S.’s 1993 R&B classic “Show Me Love” starting playing, and I made a b-line for the dance floor.
I don’t know about you, but this song is my jam.
As soon as that xylophone synth kicks in, it’s fire, and your head starts to nod up and down (DUH NUH NAH NAH NAH NUH NUH NUH) and your hips start to shake left to right (DUH NUH NAH NAH NAH NUH NUH NUH), and suddenly you’re wearing leather pants and gyrating through the air.
No more than thirty seconds later, just as I was really getting going, just as the whole the dance floor was starting to bounce and Robin S. was belting out “heartbreaks and promises, I’ve had more than my share,” you could start to hear another voice creep in and Robin S.’s shrill was replaced with a woman incessantly asking to teach her how to Dougie. “Teach me how to Dougie, teach me how to Dougie,” over the beat to “Show Me Love.”
The DJ was playing a mash-up. I don’t particularly care for mash-ups, especially bad ones. I have no problem with learning how to Dougie. But how am I supposed to learn how to Dougie in thirty seconds if the beat to the Dougie is not the Dougie?
I’ve got enough difficulty paying attention in life. I’m over-stimulated all day long, forced to make all of these stressful life decisions — Twitter or Instagram, Smart Water or coconut water, almond milk or keifer, quinoa or brown rice — when I go out to dance, I just want to lose myself in a three or four minute trance with one person singing and one beat I can get down to, is that too much to ask? What is so bad about just playing one song; the actual song that everyone on the dance floor knows and loves and wants to hear, the song that everyone has danced to countless times?
After I had my 90s-throwback gyration interrupted, and failed to learn how to Dougie, I thought things were looking up because the DJ faded into Missy Elliot’s “Get Ur Freak On.” A dance party classic. My ass was moving backwards through the air at a 45-degree angle on Missy’s “HOLLA!” when all of sudden, the tectonic plates below shifted, and the beat turned into Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.”
Are you kidding me? Yeah, I know what you’re thinking — “Actually, I kind of like that song” — and well, I kind of like it too — but how the hell am I supposed to find a cute girl to make eyes with on the dance floor, just in time for the “Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my number” chorus, while my ass is still stuck in mid-air from Missy?
Then the DJ tried to mash-up “Billy Jean” with “Hollaback Girl,” at which point I said fuck it and left the dance floor. As far as I’m concerned, a Michael Jackson song is a Michael Jackson song, and should never ever (never ever, ever) be manipulated because it’s flawless. You put on MJ at a party, you should be prepared for everyone in the room to dance like MJ for anywhere from three to seven minutes. If you don’t want that, then don’t play MJ.
Proponents of the mash-up will say, “But what about Girl Talk? Girl Talk is so good! Girl Talk! Girl Talk!” I agree, Girl Talk is fun, but most DJs are not Girl Talk. If I want to listen to mash-ups made by a professional mash-up artist who does this type of thing for a living, I’ll buy their album or pay $25 to see them at a concert. But this isn’t a Girl Talk or Danger Mouse show, it’s a random bar and it’s Saturday night and I paid $6 for a beer, and I want to dance.
It’s time for us dance partyers to rise up and take a stand against DJs trying to show off their skills at mixing or pressing the fade button over and over again on their Mac Book Pros, taking a perfectly wonderful song and ruining it by finding a beat that (kind of) sounds similar. If you want to play a mash-up, do so in the privacy of your own home or your headphones, not at a dance party.