This piece first appeared in The Oxford Student on 22 January 2015, as part of the music section’s ‘four columns’ feature. They’d get four people to contribute very short columns on a particular theme, and on this occasion it was mashups. Short, but I had fun with it, and I remain ridiculously fond of this daft little group.
Girl Talk and Sam Ryel are all very well, but to truly understand mashups, you need to go back to the source, and see how three maniacs from Rotherham managed to get to number one by stitching together bits of aging bubblegum pop to form ahead of their time musical masterpieces. I’m talking of course about the seminal Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers, whose huge success in the late eighties and early nineties marked the mashup’s first real break into the mainstream.
Listening to the first track on their first album (imaginatively titled ‘The Album’) it’s not hard to see why. An invigorating cocktail of early rock’n’roll hits and Glenn Miller’s iconic jazz track, with a rock-solid bass line forming a reliable backbone as the song skips between genre highlights, ‘Swing the Mood’ does a wonderful job capturing the infectious, youthful energy of that period of music.
Mashups are pop music’s own form of alchemy; disparate sources, wantonly forced to occupy the same space, creating something more than the sum of its parts. And here it is, all the way back in 1989. As above, so below.