In the past few years much ink has been spilt discussing “mashups,” the process of remixing two or more songs together. The weirder the combination, the more impressive the feat. DJs like Girl Talk lead the charge, but due to differing keys and tempos the pairings sometimes sound forced. Mashup covers, on the other hand, have more freedom. Here are ten odd couples and unchained medleys that, defying all probably, kind of work.
Touching Earth Made of Steel – Party in the Spirit World (Miley Cyrus / Daniel Johnston)
Yes, that’s “Party in the U.S.A.” paired with “Spirit World,” from the latest CokeMachineGlow covers mix. Dear Mr. Johnston: I’m sure they didn’t mean it. [Buy]
Keller Williams – My Sisters and Brothers / Boob Job (Charles Johnson / David Wilcox)
There’s something wonderfully irreverent about pairing a hopeful gospel song with a song called “Boob Job.” Jerry Garcia covered the first a few times, but died before he could have a go at the second. [Buy]
Saint Bernadette – Owner Things (Yes / Howard Jones)
“Owner of a Lonely Heart” + “Things Can Only Get Better” = an inspired duo. Though I’m not sure Jones deserves the honor — a few years ago he translated his hit to “Simlish” for The Sims 2. Embarrassing. [Buy]
Kenny Mellman – The Gambler / Poker Face (Kenny Rogers / Lady Gaga)
The man behind the Our Hit Parade pop cover series decided that lyrical theme is enough to tie two songs together. How right he was. [Buy]
Jacqui Naylor – Summertime / Whipping Post (George Gershwin / The Allman Brothers)
Jazz vocalist Naylor is known for her “acoustic smashes,” putting the lyrics to one song atop the melody of a second. Here she sings “Summertime” while the band plays “Whipping Post.” Sneak peek: Look for another even less likely pairing next week. [Buy]
The Afghan Whigs – My World Is Empty Without You / Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang (The Supremes / Dr. Dre)
In this live jam from 1994, the quartet tosses in the lyrics to Dr. Dre’s first single so soulfully you might not notice anything amiss. Check out more at our recent Dre feature. [Buy]
The Spinto Band – Give Me Just a Little More Time / The Sweet Escape / The Boys Are Back in Town (Chairmen of the Board / Gwen Stefani / Thin Lizzy)
This song eschews the normal approach of moving from one song to the next, instead splicing some Gwen and Lizzy into the Detroit soul. It took me a couple listens to figure out where “The Sweet Escape” appeared. [Buy]
Paddy Casey with the Dublin Gospel Choir – Grandma’s Hands / No Diggity (Bill Withers / Blackstreet)
What seems a truly bizarre combination is actually an homage to the original “No Diggity,” which contained a “Grandma’s Hands” sample. This cover pushes that fun bit of trivia to the extreme. If someone covered Girl Talk this way each song would become a thirty-minute ordeal. [Buy]
Tenacious D – More Than a Feeling / Just What I Needed / Dream On (Boston / The Cars / Aerosmith)
The best part of this Boston-band medley that the D performed in 2001 is that three times they build to an epic chorus, then switch songs just before it arrives. Hilariously unsatisfying. [Buy]
Allred – Cover Medley (Various Artists)
Ok, here we go: Tonic, “If You Could Only See” — Howie Day, “Secret” — Guster, “Demons” — Better Than Ezra, “Desperately Wanting” — Michelle Branch, “All You Wanted” — Avril Lavigne, “Complicated” — Eagle Eye Cherry, “Save Tonight” — Boys Like Girls, “Hero/Heroine” — Colbie Caillat, “Bubbly” — Fergie, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” — Rihanna, “Umbrella” — The Eagles, “Hotel California” — Panic! At the Disco, “Nine in the Afternoon” — Leona Lewis, “Bleeding Love” — Chris Brown, “With You” — OneRepublic, “Apologize” — Uncle Kracker, “Drift Away.” 17 songs, 7 minutes. Whew! [Buy]
Bonus: The Bloodhound Gang’s mashup of Wu Tang Clan and Weezer just feels right.
Dude, "Weird Al" has been doing polka mashups for decades. No shout outs for the OG?
Don't worry, there's been plenty of Al love in the past. Exhibit A: http://covermesongs.blogspot.com/2009/10/weird-al-yankovic.html
I recall hearing Bare Naked Ladies perform on BBC radio 1 a few years back. A great unstoppable (and mostly inappropriate) medley of Eminem, Madonna, Britney hits of the day ensued.
Here are two more you might consider for future lists
Hard-Fi – Toxic (mix of Spears Toxic and Brand New Cadillac) From Radio One 1967-2007
Howe Gelb & Scout Niblett – I Want Candy (Strangelove/Bo Diddly Who Do You Love)
Thanks for all the hard work.