I downloaded the mash-up compilation Best of Bootie 2006 last week, but only just now had time to sit down and listen to the entire thing toda. I find most mash-ups to be entertaining at best, fairly disposable pieces that often reveal how preposterous and self-aggrandizing so much of pop music really is, that it’s often taken far more seriously than it should be.
For example, mashing She Wants Revenge up with Joy Division reveals just how deeply the former is indebted to the latter. So much so that it makes you wonder why folks wouldn’t just go ahead and check out the original, why a label would spend all the time and money to sign and promote an act that is so painfully derivative, or why a band would even start up in the first place when they apparently have no intention of adding something new to the musical pantheon.
However, there are mash-ups that are truly brilliant. And they’re brilliant because, when laid out on paper, they just should not work. Trying to do the musical arithmetic, trying to add the hook from this song to the vocals from that song, seems impossible. Something that would try even the most hardened minds because the potential results are so unthinkable. Perhaps even madness-inducing.
And yet when you listen to it, you’re struck by the thought that perhaps some higher power had always intended for the components to be mashed together. What other explanation could there be for the amount of joy, the huge smile that such a track causes?
Thoughts like these run through the back of my head as I listen to The Kleptones’ “Careless or Dead,” which, as you might (not) have guessed, combines the wailing, sorrowful saxophone from George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” with the gritty, cowboy vocals from Bön Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”.
As improbable as it seems, just try imagining a grizzled, chaps and spurs-wearing Jon Bön Jovi performing in a classy, smoke-filled London nightclub circa 1984, and you’re part of the way there.