Check out Girl Talk
Whenever I have visitors over at the apartment, occasionally somebody will look at the stacks and stacks of CDs and LPs and ask, “How can you listen to all this music?” I’m tempted to answer with another question: “Don’t you know this is nothing?”
The more music you hear, the more you realize how much music exists you will never get to hear. A roomful of CD players and iPods could spin songs simultaneously for a lifetime and there still could be a really cool post-punk band from New York City you have never heard of.
Greg Gillis, a Pittsburgh DJ who goes by the name Girl Talk, understands this. So he has made an album called “Night Ripper” that takes the best parts of about 150 pop songs and integrates them into a seamless 40-minute mix so well-paced it feels more like 40 seconds. Because why listen to one song when you can listen to 20 in the space of one song? And why stick with just ’90s grunge or just Dirty South hip-hop when you can mix the genres with ’80s metal, ’70s soul, Motown, adult contemporary, Britpop, arena rock and indie pop?
Everything about “Night Ripper” is seemingly impossible and definitely illegal, since there’s no way every sample was cleared ahead of time. But whoever decides to sue will have a lot of fun listening before cherry picking their music out of the mix. If “Night Ripper” doesn’t contain one or two seconds of every great song from the past three decades, you might not be listening hard enough. You can hear traces of 50 Cent, Boston, Ludacris, the Verve, Ying Yang Twins, Oasis and Arrested Development, and that’s just on the opening track.
“Night Ripper” is the latest and perhaps greatest example of the “mash-up” record where you take two songs and splice them together. Perhaps the best-known mash-up is Danger Mouse’s “Grey Album” which combined Jay-Z’s vocals from “The Black Album” and The Beatles’ music from “The White Album” to create something different, somewhat obvious and incredibly catchy.
While Girl Talk utilizes many more records in a single song, he still keeps each number around the 3-minute mark. (“Night Ripper” blows through 16 tracks in just over 41 minutes.) And he covers a lot of ground. On “Give and Go” Gillis touches on Hall and Oates, Ciara, Phil Collins, 2 Live Crew, Seals and Croft and The Emotions. “Smash Your Head” begins with Young Jeezy rapping over Nirvana’s “Scentless Apprentice” before switching to a surprisingly moving bit where Notorious B.I.G. rhymes to “Tiny Dancer.”
“Night Ripper” has dominated my iPod this week. I have listened to it at least a dozen times and I’m still noticing stuff I missed. (Is that KRS-One rapping over Aerosmith’s cover of “Come Together”? No way!) It must be the most musically dense album I have ever heard. It’s not only the ultimate party album (if you don’t like a song, don’t worry, another will come and go soon) but also the ideal desert island disc. It’s like getting a box set of hits on one album.
Will “Night Ripper” sound as good in a month? I don’t know. As fun as the album is, it does have a cotton candy flavor with a gimmicky after taste. But I can’t think of a better summer listen. And you really need to hear it before somebody catches on and shuts Girl Talk down.
(“Night Ripper” might be tough to find locally and it is not currently available on iTunes. I bought it through eMusic.com, where you get 40 downloads for $9.99. You can also download songs at Gillis’ MySpace page, www.myspace.com/girltalkmusic.)