List-ening to Girl Talk’s All Day

On the first of March 2011, the DJ known as Girl Talk performed at the Montreal venue Metropolis. I know this information so readily because I own a ticket to the event. It remains intact, unused since I didn’t bother seeing one of the world’s best mash-up artists at a live show.

I knew a Girl Talk concert would be the tits. Still, I felt I shouldn’t join in. For one, my swag levels are not superior enough to hang with the upper-crust socialites who congregate at a Girl Talk concert. More importantly, I would rather listen to a DJ mix alone and in private than amidst people at a concert.

In the former situation, I have control over my listening experience. I can play the music at the volume and in the order I prefer. Without the risk of shit-faced public humiliation, I can pursue an optimally inebriated state for the musical festivities.

And that’s precisely what I did one night: I smoked a j, drank some brew, listened to Girl Talk’s All Day, then listed out my favourite parts of the mix. Have I transposed public humiliation from the dance floor of Metropolis to a blog post on my website? Yeah, that seems to be the result. Oh well, sometimes you gotta give’r.

All Day contains over 370 samples across its seventy-two minutes. There’s simply too great a selection for a single list, which is why I made two Top Tens: samples and mash-ups. The lists vary considerably in definition and criteria. No song repeats across either list so that I may present a wider view of my musical tastes.

Top Ten Samples in Girl Talk’s All Day

Here I rank the individual songs that made me happiest upon discovering them within the mix. Some entries appear for only a second while others span over a minute. These songs made the cut because they stood out for me against the remaining sonic backdrop.

10. N.W.A. – Express Yourself

I class Express Yourself as excellent granny rap: something to show the older generations who resent rap music. Put on a smile, play this track, and say, “See, Granny? It ain’t all bad.” Pretty hilarious considering the other songs performed by this outfit.
“Sonny, this music is good after all, but what does the group’s name mean?”
“Oh, Granny, it’s an acronym that stands for ‘New World Activism.'”
“How pleasant.”

9. Jackson 5 – I Want You Back

Sure is nice to hear something funky in the spotlight. All Day features other soul samples too, but a Jackson 5 track offers rich opportunities as backing instrumental. Jackson 5 is about the only Motown group I’m familiar with, though I’ve heard a smattering of the label’s roster in the Motown Mix by Madlib, a favourite DJ of mine. That mix comes highly recommended. It’s an amazing musical lesson that spans such notable Motown artists as Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, Supremes, Jacksons, Four Tops, Commodores, and others. Yes, I’m trying to sound like a music nerd by mentioning Motown so much.

8. Third Eye Blind – Semi-Charmed Life

Girl Talk uses the intro from this track as a truly sublime drum fill. The split-second sample is difficult to catch unless one is already familiar with the song itself. This track comes from one of the biggest albums of my adolescence. Looking back, I don’t see how it was fit for me to listen to college rock at twelve years old. I used to appropriate emotions and situations from the music that didn’t apply to me at all. At the time, did I have a dead-end relationship or a friend with suicidal tendencies? Fuck no, of course not, I was twelve, but I got to pretend that I did while listening to this music.

7. Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out of my Head

This song gets notable points for being part of my music video boner jamz as a pubescent kid. Maybe that’s where I first found the appeal. Nowadays, the elegant keyboard and synths drive my love for this track. Kid606, another mash-up artist, puts it to superb use, better than Girl Talk. Mind you, he takes six-and-a-half minutes dedicated to retooling the song’s entire structure from rhythm to lyrics—quite a feat while remaining loyal to the source. Kid606 did it up so well that I included his cut in a mix of my own. So that’s three mixes where this song rocks (to varying degrees).

6. Daft Punk – Digital Love

I listened to this track a bunch as a teen. In retrospect, Discovery was an album formative to my musical tastes. I really dug the layered synths and happy melodies, including the auto-tune in the vocals. Daft Punk incorporated that effect better than most who have tried to ride the auto-tune wave. This track enlivens the samples put over it. A mirth bubbles up from the synths that lighten the accompanying sounds.

5. Belinda Carlisle – Heaven Is a Place on Earth

Hearing this reminds me of the time when people were belting out karaoke in a friend’s apartment while I sat high as fuck and glued to a couch in another room. I was just staring forward, hardly cognizant, swimming in my head, when I heard a group of people who I couldn’t immediately identify shouting these lyrics at the top of their lungs. I sat there the whole time not knowing what to do, but you can know for certain that I appreciated the performance. This song makes the list based on sentimental value.

4. Dr. Octagon – Blue Flowers

My jaw hit the floor when I heard this clip. Dr. Octagon definitely inhabits the shadowy side of hip hop, so I was surprised to find him in a Girl Talk mix. Not that I think it’s above Girl Talk (not at all, the guy knows music), but more so because I assumed Girl Talk caters to the popular songs that most people like. Spotting a sample from one of the ultimate underground hip hop albums made my day.

3. Crystal Waters – Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)

Here’s my quintessential house music sound, although my preference for the song likely stems from my inexperience with house music in general. This riff shows up everywhere, so I’m most familiar with it. I really do love this track; the beat doesn’t ever go wrong, and Girl Talk’s selected vocal samples all fit. Layered on top of Gypsy Woman’s slick keyboard synth, they swish around like sweetened cream in my tasty auditory mug.

2. Rihanna – Rude Boy

Yeah, what can I say? I love this. If mass-produced media is becoming more sexualized, this is the way to do it. My absolute favourite sign of the times. I think Girl Talk might have tweaked Rihanna’s vocals to make them even more sensual. Her voice is like velvet gloves caressing my ear canals. Hot stuff, all class.

1. Ghost Town DJ’s – My Boo

Girl Talk salvaged my perception of this song. I initially heard it in a mix by Daedelus, a DJ known for using quirky samples. I loved the track immediately and wanted to learn more about it. Some internet digging helped me find the original artist and title, and a Youtube search after that provided me the music. I was excited to hear the song in full as it was considerably different than how it appeared in the Daedelus mix. Both versions developed my appreciation for the song.

Then, in an obvious error in judgment, I began reading comments on the Youtube page. Most of them expressed nostalgia from people who remembered hearing the song new, but a single comment mentioned it as being the “soundtrack” to a website. My curiosity got the better of me, and I investigated the Web address only to find a bona fide shock site. It’s definitely not the most offensive shock site, but viewing it alongside my new favourite song left me bad associations whenever I listened to the music afterwards.

Neither the Daedelus mix nor the original song could right the negative feelings I associated with My Boo. I maintained this sound aversion for months before listening to All Day. Hearing My Boo sampled by Girl Talk, for everyone to hear, relieved my anxiety. I was proud again to enjoy the music I liked. Girl Talk changed my life. Thanks, Girl Talk.

Top Ten Mash-ups in Girl Talk’s All Day

The mash-ups I list combine two or more samples edited together within the mix. While my favourite samples focus on my familiarity with the songs, my favourite mash-ups contain some tracks I had never heard prior to All Day. I don’t judge a mash-up by how well I know its elements. Instead, I listen for how the samples play off each other and, especially in Girl Talk mixes, how the unexpected combinations surprise me.

10. John Lennon – Imagine + Rich Boy – Drop + UGK – One Day

The first mash-up on my list is the last one of the whole mix, which ends after such high energy with a poignant, meaningful message. Of course I mean UGK’s rapping, but I suppose Imagine contributes to the sentiment as well. I like how the backing “yeahs” from the rap samples agree with Lennon’s closing words.

9. Black Sabbath – War Pigs + Ludacris ft. Mystikal & I-20 – Move Bitch

Coming in right after the final mash-up is the very first one. They both do well to bookend the mix with messages against strife. I’m pretty sure the War Pigs + Move Bitch combination represents a commentary on the World Police military agenda effectuated by the United States. Then again, I was high when I thought up that morsel so it may make no sense at all.

8. Radiohead – Creep + Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Shimmy Shimmy Ya

Mash-ups like this make my mouth water. There’s much disparity between the musical styles involved, yet Ol’ Dirty Bastard croons so naturally over Radiohead’s loser rock, always finding the space between Thom Yorke’s squeals and the swells in music. This pairing exemplifies Girl Talk’s highest standards as a mash-up artist.

7. Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes + Nine Inch Nails – Closer + Foxy Brown – Hot Spot

With three choice samples going at once, this mash-up is tied with #10 for most complex on the list. The final piece of the puzzle here is the gritty drum beat from Closer. Once that gets going, the elements hit a tight groove and work together as one of the best layered moments in the whole mix. Too bad it’s only fifteen seconds long.

6. General Public – Tenderness + Jay-Z ft. Amil & Ja Rule – Can I Get A…

Here’s the quirky, bubbly remixing I expect from Girl Talk, but I would be hard pressed to find another DJ pull it off the same way. The mash-up gets a good vibe going, fusing an underdog rap track with 80s pop song (hear also: T’Pau – Heart and Soul +┬áSkee-Lo – I Wish later in the mix for similar execution).

5. Aphex Twin – Windowlicker + Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em – Pretty Boy Swag

Aphex Twin and Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em!? *cough* Yes. I was all over this before I knew it featured the one and only Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em. After learning the truth, I was a little embarrassed, but I still dug the combination. On top of that misunderstanding, I originally misheard the lyrics as “Pretty Boy Sweat” instead of “Pretty Boy Swag.” I think my brain heard the former as it’s the perfect complement to the irresistible grossness that is Windowlicker. This is seriously what it takes for me to enjoy Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em.

4. Derek and the Dominos – Layla + B.o.B. ft. Rich Boy – Haterz Everywhere

Eric fucking Clapton, people. That’s all there is to it. The rap I never heard before this mix. It has an aggressive, cooler-than-you style, but I can dig it. I’m not a musical brain, but I swear there’s some crazy harmonizing at play here. Also, the rap has subtly clever lyrics to pair with Layla. Don’t be a hater, George.

3. Rick Ross – B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast) + Basement Jaxx – Where’s Your Head At?

Wow, this is heavy as FUCK! Quite an uplifting mash-up that combines a positive message with a banging instrumental. Keep your head up, folks. This is probably the best legit remix in All Day. I could see it getting commissioned by the musicans involved if the music industry ever worked that way.

2. Mr. Oizo – Flat Beat + Waka Flocka Flame – Hard in da Paint

Oh, what’s this? A rap and an instrumental that both go hard as fuck? And they mix perfectly together? Dat’s my word. I seriously lose my shit when I hear this mash-up. It’s nearly too bonkers. Funny how Flat Eric goes harder in his office than Flocka ever does in da paint.

1. Miley Cyrus – Party in the U.S.A. + M.O.P. – Ante Up

What might seem like a horrid combo is legitimately the best mash-up from All Day. Girl Talk expertly splits the vocals and instrumental of Ante Up between foreground and background of two different mash-ups, but we’ll focus on just one of them. (Hear also: the split for The Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop as another example of this technique.)

Once Party in the U.S.A. shows up with M.O.P. vocals, the bombs start dropping. YAP! ZAP! There’s real power behind M.O.P.’s lyrical delivery. Girl Talk plays it smart by avoiding the shallow lyrics of Party in the U.S.A., instead using the song strictly for its instrumental. I reluctantly say so, but Party in the U.S.A. wins the award for most obnoxiously pleasing synth sounds. My ears love that shit, and I can’t help myself but to enjoy it. Lastly, when listening to these tracks together, I imagine the members of M.O.P. meeting Miley Cyrus to “gat that fool” and “kidnap that fool” for cash since they’re “nine hundred and ninety-nine thou’ short of a mil.” Excellent stuff right there.

Those are the lists. I’m going to end here before I divulge any more embarrassing information. I hope I didn’t puke anywhere. Peace.