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Posted on December 27th, 2010 (7:12 pm) by Chad Flanders

Is there anyone better suited than Girl Talk to heal the divisions in our society, between the Tea Partiers and the progressives, between the red states and the blue states, between hip-hop and classic rock? For in Girl Talk, everything goes into the mix – Electric Light Orchestra, Jane’s Addiction, Beastie Boys and well, let’s just have a look at the list of artists sampled on All Day:

2 Live Crew - Banned in the U.S.A.
2 Live Crew - Get it Girl
2Pac - Me Against the World
2Pac ft. KC & Jojo - How Do U Want It
8Ball & MJG - You Don't Want Drama
50 Cent - Disco Inferno
50 Cent - Get Up
50 Cent - Wanksta
50 Cent - Window Shopper

And that’s just the artists whose names begin with numbers. Hyperkinetic, wildly imaginative, immensely learned – Girl Talk is all these things and more. The mixes on All Day will make you hear old songs as if they were brand new, and introduce you to new beats you didn’t even know you liked. He is the pastiche artist par excellence. He brings everyone together, and they all seem to really be enjoying themselves.

If there is a valid criticism to be had of Girl Talk’s way of doing things it is that it borrows too much from the widely heralded (and just as widely panned) Hooked on Classics series that was big in the 80s. The formula there was to take famous classical songs – think 1812 Overture, “Air on a G String” – speed them up, and add handclaps. All of a sudden, classical music was now danceable! So too, runs the critique of Girl Talk: he is merely speeding up Elton John, and adding in some rap beats. He is merely doing Hooked on Classics for Classic Rock.

To which I say, more power to him. Hooked on Classics wasn’t a bad idea anyway, and it did get at the truth about all good music: good music endures transposition, changes in tempo, and changes in key. Good music is good because it allows itself to be modified and altered and twisted while still being worth listening to (this is why Dylan is such a genius: so many artist cover him and make his songs better or different or sublime).

Good music is generative in that way. It doesn’t want to stay still. That’s why Switched on Bach was so fantastic: it showed how Bach could be remade for the age of synthesizers while still remaining undeniably Bach. So too does Girl Talk do a slightly more current, but no less necessary updating of some classic rock songs that really rocked – that were forgotten too soon, or not noticed at the time for what works of genius they really were.

There are some missteps here, a few. Beyonce didn’t need “Single Ladies” to be given the Girl Talk treatment. It worked really well on it’s own, thank you very much. Sometimes the rap music tends towards the vulgar and misogynistic. For those not used to real rap, this may cause some ruffled ears. But for the most part it’s all good. The rap and the rock smooth one another out, creating a wholly unique sound.

The final thing, a miracle really, that has to be said about Girl Talk is that he’s able to sample so many artists and get away with it. Many will not mince words here and say that he’s stealing. It’s a little surprising he gets away with it: why isn’t anyone suing? Although he’s not making any money on the record – he gives it a way for free – he is making money touring and giving incredible shows across the country (go to one, you won’t forget it). From what I can tell, Girl Talk hasn’t been sued because he’s so cool.

Anyway, this just makes it all the more important that you go to Illegal Art’s website right now and download All Day. Did I mention it’s free? All the more reason it’s appropriate for these times. Not only are we divided, we’re broke. We can use all the free good music we can get.

Track List:

1. Oh No
2. Let It Out
3. That’s Right
4. Jump on Stage
5. This Is the Remix
6. On and On
7. Get It Get It
8. Down for the Count
9. Make Me Wanna
10. Steady Shock
11. Triple Double
12. Girl Talk

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