Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Girls Allowed

A quick perusal of the excellent Black Melody site this morning alerted me to the fact that it's ten years this month since the pseudonymous Richard X (or Girls on Top as he was even-more-pseudonymously known at the time) released a hard-to-find and completely unsanctioned seven inch single that, IMHO, became the most influential sound of the noughties. Being Scrubbed and its b-side I Wanna Dance With Numbers took the now-familiar but then novel trope of combining the vocals from one track with the melody from an entirely different track, usually from a different genre, to produce a new track that, in some instances, transcends its constituent ingredients.

This, of course, led to a further single by Girls on Top (Warm Bitch/We Don't Give a Damn About our Friends), legitimate production work by Richard X for artists including hits from Liberty X and the Sugababes, Kylie's Blue Monday performance at the Brits and a whole slew of artists, producers and DJs (step forward Eddy Temple-Morris, the Freelance Hellraiser, Osymyso and hundreds more) jumping on the mash-up bandwagon. While the mash-up industry is still going (notably in the guise of one Mark Vidler, aka Go Home Productions- two recent productions are below), its apotheosis/nadir arguably arrived in 2004 with DJ Food's 40-minute masterpiece Raiding the 20th Century, to which I'll return in February.

I mentioned transcendence. For me, the B-side of Being Scrubbed (I Wanna Dance With Numbers) manages to achieve this, somehow finding a seam of melancholy in Whitney Houston's original by marrying it the insistent, minor key melody of Kraftwerk's Numbers. In doing so, Richard X managed to change the song's subtext entirely, from a joyous shout of euphoria to a lonely plea of desperation. You can hear for y'self below.

Download Girls on Top- I Wanna Dance With Numbers (mp3) (deleted Dec 11)


Anonymous said...

Oh, gawd! Mash ups produce incredibly shallow music. The novelty value wears off after about 10 seconds. That kylie thing is awful. its all about the panties with that silly wee aussie slutdoll.

Irk The Purists said...

Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Germaine Greer has joined us. Thanks for your input, Germaine. Actually I'm in full agreement that that Kylie thing isn't so great, musically. However, I do think it was something of a watershed for the public perception of mash-ups- it wasn't long afterwards, for example, that the term started to be used in relation to computer applications using publicly-accessible APIs). And yes, a lot of mash-ups can be quite shallow. Pretty good fun for 3 minutes but not something you'd ever return to (I remember a lot of versions of the Electric 6's Gay Bar at the height of the craze).

However, I do think that the best exponents of the genre can create something that improves upon its constituent parts- GHP's mash-up of Grace Jones Slave To The Rhythm and Nellie Furtado's Turn Off the Light is a thing of wonder. As are most of Richard X's efforts- Finest Dreams by Kelis, for example.

Just my 2 cents. Thanks for commenting.