girl talk

ALEX’s Best of ‘10: All Day

[You have selected: Alex Spencer] Just/a/position: The Why of Girl Talk’s All Day All Day has gotten a lot of attention here at Alex-Spencer&Friends. Just yesterday, it received its own poem. We’ve looked at its finest moments. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the link is being passed around to those of our number who haven’t yet experienced it. (You can get it free, so there’s really no excuse.) It’s a thousand parties given voice, on the run from the law. Right now, it’s possibly my favourite album of the year, despite actually only being actually one single song. Despite actually being two-thousand other songs. It’s the best pre-party record of all time… So, it’s brilliant, okay? Miles has already dissected the highlights (just fyi, this post is going to be deeply in conversation with his, so I recommend going and checking it out if you haven’t already) and concluded that the appeal is “more simple than any ‘What is Girl Talk saying with this combination?’ nonsense”, which is fair enough. All Day is a hell of a feet-mover and hip-shaker, and that might be all you need to know. However, as is my wont, I’m going to be contrary. Miles has done the how. I’m having a think about the why. The mash-up form, as it appeared in the early ‘oos, is something I’ve never really ‘got’. They seem, to me, like a (post-)modern equivalent of novelty hits. Hearing two completely contradictory bands next to each other is played for laughs, right? It’s just novel to have Beyonce duetting with Kurt. It seems to encourage the idea of ‘real music’ over ‘guilty pleasures’. Isn’t it funny when the proper musicians stoop down to the level of popstars? This is all personal preference/prejudice, remember. And I can see how it could maybe show a song through a new filter, maybe reveals some of the shared foundations and dirty tricks pop pulls across all of music. I’ve just never heard one that makes me feel that way. But then there was Girl Talk. All Day does seem to make an argument for a continuum of pop in which all genres are equal. First of all simply by the sheer mass of songs and types of songs it is made up of. This creates a universe within the album, a patchwork of hundreds of songs. But more key is how it uses them: that patchwork is an entity completely separated from most of the songs that comprise it. Songs are used more like samples in early 90s hip-hop, where they created a backdrop to the raps and squeezed fresh life out of long-dormant songs. Or like in DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing where an entire album is built out of (largely unrecognisable) scraps. And it does all this as a celebration. There’s no sneer on the face of All Day. The secret origins and histories of its component parts occasionally inform the joy of listening to it, enhance or change your reading of it. Rude Boy is one of my favourite songs of 2010, but I’m not familiar with Waiting Room. So, the idea of Rihanna as the vocalist of Fugazi means little to me. Not so Miles. But I like hearing Rude Boy, in any situation. All Day does the basic curation thing that sampling tends towards: this is good stuff, or interesting stuff, or the good bit of a song where the rest fails. The timeliness, I reckon, is a big factor in our obsession with this album. It dropped a scant month ago, right as we entered this period of reflectiveness. It’s as good as any way of gauging the music landscape right now, and squeezes absolutely everything you could need in an end-of-year roundup into less than an hour. Not that the majority of the samples are from the last year so much as it offers a history of everything it’s taken us to get to this point – from XXX to Willow Smith. And that history suggests a possible present. A musical world that could exist, right now. If only. A world where pop is equally informed by old-school hip hop and old pop music? That’s world I’d take, every time. All Day does all the other stuff that mash-ups and samples can do, with added finesse. Occasionally, two songs running alongside one another offer a laugh – Dancing in the Dark riffs against All The Girls Standing in the Line for the Bathroom by N.E.R.D. is just funny. But it also makes Springsteen sound that little bit more epic. Or it puts a popular song through a new filter: putting Bad Romance against Aphex Twin brings out that dark side that I think a lot of casual Gagaites like myself want more of from the Lady herself. But that’s just hinted at in a momentary snatch that leaves anticipatory saliva on the lips. And that’s just one aspect of it. On one level, it’s a joke. On another, maybe it’s a ironic self-aware dissection of pop, rap, and everything else it assimilates into its mass. On another, it’s about putting a 19 year-old Kylie fronting a heavy-metal band. But mostly importantly… another uninteresting thing about the traditional mash-up, one song playing against another, is that they tend to rely on you liking at least one of the songs. At its very best, Girl Talk takes songs you don’t like and somehow makes something great of them. That’s not a mash-up, that’s alchemy of the highest order. Mash-up making meaning? That’s just a bonus. Great rap over your favourite songs. It’s magic. Get your damn hands up. About the author: Alex Spencer‘s interests include: anythingwhich is ambitious/stupid enough to countas heroic, if only to himself. He is looking forreaders with a gsoh and who enjoy longwalks and pretentious music-journalism.

MILES: The Ten Best Moments on All Day, in Chronological Order

[You have selected: Miles Bradley] The Ten Best Moments on Girl Talk’s “All Day”, in Chronological Order Girl Talk’s All Day [which can be gotten here for free] is better than Night Ripper but not as good as Feed the Animals, which is okay because Feed the Animals is the best party record of all time, making this the best pre-party record of all time. These are the ten best bits (cf: Tom Ewing being much smarter than me), in order of appearance, because while Girl Talk specifies that All Day is supposed to function as a single piece, it is (as with any of his ADD mash-up masterpieces) all about the little moments: 1. Jay Z’s Can I Get A… vs General Public’s Tenderness– You know, that song from the end of Clueless. Makes Jay’s complaints about gold-diggers sound more like a plea for genuine affection than a misogynistic rant against girls who’ll only give it up if you’re paying their bills. Essentially the climax coming out of the breakdown – “Where is your tenderness? Your tenderness? – Can I get a fuck you?”. That juxtaposition is very, very pleasing.2. Beck’s Loser vs Wale’s Pretty Girls – on one level, a joke (Pitchfork’s review read it this way): Wale is not the biggest rapper in the world and is perhaps not in a position to be as openly obnoxious as this (“Ugly girls be quiet, pretty girls clap like this”) so “Loser” sets up his rap as some sort of ironic selfaware dissection or perhaps just Girl Talk calling him on his shit. On another level, it’s a good verse set to a great beat. There’s just something joyous about when that guitar loop drops in. SOY UN PEREDOOOOR.3. Rihannah’s Rude Boy vs Fugazi’s Waiting Room – That bass line is powerful. Even if you’ve never heard “Waiting Room” you can’t help but think you recognise that bass line because it’s so damn good. Meanwhile Rihanna’s taking a sub lyric and giving it a dom vocal performance, so the whole thing is pleasingly sexy in a switchy way, especially when partnered with the aggroswagger of the music. Much like Paul Morely’s observation that the best thing about Can’t Get Blue Monday Out Of My Head is the idea of Kylie fronting New Order, the idea of Rihanna being the vocalist of Fugazi is pretty thrilling.4. Beastie Boys vs Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life – Everyone partying all at once, while on the run from the law. 5. Lil Wayne vs New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle – The intro to Bizarre Love Triangle isn’t a million miles away from a sped-up and scratched take on the one-note bassline from A Milli. One of the best rappers going in over one of my favourite songs. Simple.6. Twista vs U2 – Twista is not a fantastic rapper, U2 is not a great band. And yet somehow this is stirring, and anthemic and sets Twista’s promises to uh, you know, “make you wet” as a thing of world-saving life-altering importance. Bono should only ever sing wordless vocals.7. Rye Rye vs Rage Against the Machine – In a choice between our world and one where Rage Against the Machine is fronted by a 19 year old woman who can actually rap, I’d take the other every time. Even if there was some weird catch, like, in the alternate world men had to sit down to pee. It’d be worth it.8. N.E.R.D. vs Bruce Springsteen – I don’t even know. It just makes a lot of dumb sense.9. Drake vs Flock of Seagulls – Stadium rap, meet stadium rock, I think the two of you are going to get along very, very well. I really like fast hip-hop and Drake (who I’m quite fond of) has too many too slow beats, so it’s nice to hear him over something quicker and easier to dance to.10. Jay-Z’s Dirt Off Your Shoulder vs Modern English’s Melt With You – Isn’t this where we came in? Modern English soften things up and speed things up. That little breakdown is such a wonderfully odd moment with the ME gents gently cooing while Jay does the bit about how he’s internationally recognised but still true to his roots. But again, really, it’s more simple than any “What is Girl Talk saying with this combination?” nonsense – it’s a great rap run over a great instrumental. And you can dance to it. Other micro-highlights include the deployment of Phoenix’s ever joyous 1901, two second snatches of Diva and Whip My Hair and the very beginning of The Rapture’s immortal House of Jealous lovers thrown around a similarly short snatch of Usher’s OMG. Girl Talk: Everything all of the time and always brilliant. Even when sampling Ke$ha. About the author: Miles Bradley is headed towards becoming, at leastin my head, the 21st Century’s foremost man of letters.The question/answer sessions on his Tumblr are almostunnecessarily beautifully written and pretty consistentlyinsightful. The rest of his blog merely collects everything that’simportant about the internet and packs it, Archivist-style, intoone convenient space. He is also my favourite ever dancer.