Monday, December 08, 2008

Cranky Old Man Discusses New Music


Girl Talk: What the fuck is this shit?

In my day, DJs used samples to serve the song, not be the song. And they at least had an MC to provide some original content.

If you look at what someone like Grandmaster Flash was doing back in the early 80s and what Girl Talk is doing now it might be similar of the surface but it terms of creativity it's miles apart. It's not like digging through crates to find records to sample and getting a funky drum break from the Steve Miller Band or something. Girl Talk isn't Ultimate Breaks and Beats. It's all songs people know! It's a bunch of ringtones spliced together.

Are we so bereft of ideas? Are our attention spans so short? Is the motto of the current generation of music makers "why be creative when you can be clever?"

And what's with the new Kayne West album? Has he been listening to the Postal Service non-stop or something? And look, I know the guy has the freedom to do whatever he wants with his records, something any pop artist would be lucky to get, and I commend for not simply repeating the formula which gave him the most commercial success but, come on, give the Auto-Tune a rest, will ya? I don't even think Kayne has to sing on his own records. Couldn't he just give someone a call who can actually carry a tune and have them sing on the album? All these hip hop guys seem to have a hard-on for Chris Martin anyway. Imagine the crossover appeal!

I do like the new Beyoncé single though. Maybe not enough to put a ring on it, but still...

6 comments:

Brushback said...

"It's all songs people know! It's a bunch of ringtones spliced together."

That's a laff-riot

Tim Duffy said...

I would equate what Girl Talk does as more Eno/Byrne, Bomb Squad, Prince Paul or 'Paul's Boutique' period Dust Brothers. It is an overwhelming sample collage. The music plays on the fact that everyone knows the songs, it's the anti-crate digging. It's far more original than any number of my favorite bands that just play a couple of the same chords with the same song arrangements people have been using since the Nuggets era. What a crank!

PB said...

Tim,

First of all, I would not at all equate Girl Talk with Prince Paul, the Bomb Squad et al. I was actually going to use the Dust Brothers specially along with Flash as an example of creative sampling but I thought that would be overstating the obvious. I guess not.

Secondly, you call Girl Talk the "anti-crate digging" and state that he plays on the familiarity of his samples. Then immediately after that, you praise his originality. How can one be familiar and original, especially if the aspect of familiarity is as integral as you say it is? That's a total contradiction in terms.

Finally, as for your favorite bands who are recycling Nuggets song arrangements... well, I don't know to whom you're referring exactly. However, I will say that coming up with a distinctive musical identity using only standard (and familiar) rock instrumentation is a far greater accomplishment and demonstrates more originality than reformatting something that millions of people (literally) already know.

Tim Duffy said...

I think you miss the point of Girl Talk's records and that's not surprising.

What Girl Talk is doing is playing off of nostalgia and familiarity but also at the same time recontextualizing these familiar bits and pieces. One can be original and play off of people's perception of a given instrument(in this case a Thin Lizzy riff or a Lil Wayne rap being that instrument). The fact that Girl Talk does all of this using big hits says more to the modern a.d.d. itunes shuffle mentality in culture than perhaps any other musician around.

It's a big tent approach to music that is actually quite original in its acceptance of both more indie-centric sample choices and his bigger poppier chunks. This of course should have not much appeal to someone who generally speaking avoids mainstream culture like it's the plague.

Of course I don't expect this to change your opinion, it is after all a reminder of the democratization of music and culture. I guess I just wish you could be a little more objective in your criticism.

PB said...

Mr. Duffy,

I would ask that you refrain from personal attacks. If the past presidential campaign has taught us anything, it's that what's important is the issues, not insults.

I think you miss the point of Girl Talk's records and that's not surprising.

It is possible to get the point and still think they're terrible.

What Girl Talk is doing is playing off of nostalgia and familiarity but also at the same time recontextualizing these familiar bits and pieces.

I know what sampling is, thank you. Many others have done it more effectively.

The fact that Girl Talk does all of this using big hits says more to the modern a.d.d. itunes shuffle mentality in culture than perhaps any other musician around.

So the music of Girl Talk is singularly symptomatic of cultural awfulness? I'll admit that is a good point.

It's a big tent approach to music that is actually quite original in its acceptance of both more indie-centric sample choices and his bigger poppier chunks.

The idea of embracing both mainstream and underground is not exactly new or original. Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of popular music from the 1950s until now could give you plenty of examples. Off the top of my head, I'll just mention a little group called the Beatles.

I guess I just wish you could be a little more objective in your criticism.

Criticism is an extension of personal taste, which is subjective. I don't pretend that my opinions are facts. I just know they're awesome.

joe said...

I am kind of conflicted on the whole Girl Talk phemon. I mean, what he does is pretty ridiculous: splicing easily-recognizable portions of songs together to make, well, other songs.

also, the fact that he uses pitch-shifting technology I think really aggravates the whole deal (you can basically match ANY two songs together).

However, his stuff is good in that guilty pleasure sort of way. like pornography, you know it's debasing but it's just so good to watch.

also, i think his style of DJing (?) is sort of inevitable in today's iTunes culture, where every song ever recorded is two clicks away. So, if he doesnt do it someone else will.

lastly, the guy is by trade a chemical engineer. so this isnt like his main gig. he's kind of just having fun with this, which is sort of admirable.

one personal side note: his publicist hates me.