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July 14, 2005

Slang of the Week: mash-up (noun)
parts of two or more songs mixed into a new song

In an effort to connect with her grandmother, Elaine made her a mash-up CD of Snoop Dogg and Cole Porter songs.

Celebrity quote:
“I was recently described as being the Elvis of Mash-Ups, which was cool...just as long as it's his '58 period. I don't quite envisage myself in a white jumpsuit.”
-DJ Mark Vidler in Ear Candy Magazine

This week in my neighborhood, everyone is getting ready for ArtBeat. This annual Somerville festival features outdoor concerts, theater, dance, performance art and craft projects for kids. Every year brings a new theme and this year it’s “Mix & Mash,” loosely based on the idea of mash-ups. The logo is a “mashed up” animal that appears to be a combination of a cat, giraffe, bird and lizard.

The most famous musical mash-up is The Grey Album by Brian Burton (better known as DJ Danger Mouse) which cleverly combines vocal tracks from Jay-Z’s 2003 Black Album with tracks from the Beatles’ 1968 White Album. Rather than simply squashing the two together, Burton isolated beats and melodies, layering as many as 25 tracks to create a sound that is not always recognizable as the original.

Unfortunately, he did not ask the Beatles for permission before releasing the album in early February 2004 and their record company, EMI, took immediate action to stop its distribution. Ironically, although Burton only made 3000 copies, the controversy over the album made it incredibly popular and it became one of the internet’s most popular downloads.

For some fun examples of mash-ups between new and old songs (how about Jimi Hendrix and Beyoncé?) take a listen at Mark Vidler’s site:

What’s new at Slang City?
Check out the new entries in Real English, where we explain slang in magazines and newspapers, from mule and snitch to narcs and busts. (warning: some pages contain some adult themes.)