Thinkpiece – Remixes (Vasudevan)

The two videos I chose are Ceresia’s video remix (link here) and Trina’s remix of the same song by Drake, Hotline Bling (link here). As we discussed in class, Drake’s song itself samples instrumentals from older songs as well, and similar to this both female artists sample Drake’s song while tweaking the beat and instrumentals. While both remixes are clearly inspired by Drake’s original song, they both make interesting changes that have prompted people to praise them as “feminist rewrites” of Drake’s track.

The most notable part of Ceresia’s track is her vocals – her voice is clear and strong, at the forefront of the song. She sings with emotion and power, evoking the image of a woman who moved on from a toxic relationship into an empowering single phase. She switches up Drake’s lyrics enough to get her message across but so much as to obscure the original words, often switching a few words here and there such as pronouns (make “you” in reference to Drake’s former lover an “I”). Overall, between her strong vocals, subdued background music and subtle changes, Ceresia’s song comes off as the empowering anthem of a girl getting over an unworthy lover in her own way.

Trina’s song takes inspiration from Drake’s track, but seems like an entirely new song with her remix. While the background beat is similar to Drake’s, if more subdued, her lyrics are almost entirely new, taking inspiration from Drake’s but changing them almost entirely to add a biting, vindictive tone. In Trina’s song she is, similarly to Ceresia, a girl getting over an unworthy guy, but Trina is angry and powerful, and she’s definitely winning the breakup and not missing Drake. The song opens with various voices harmonizing together before Trina breaks into a rap about her ex’s wrongs. Overall, Trina’s track is fresh and different, and while the inspiration is clear, hers feels like a different song while Ceresia’s feels more like a remix. The mix and instrumentals are less melodic and more focused on just the beat and her voice, but instead of Ceresia where the focus is her angelic voice, Trina’s focus is her lines which don’t hold back.

While both songs are similar in their instrumentals, beat and inspiration, and while both offer similar goals of giving the mysterious woman referenced in Drake’s Hotline Bling her own say on the breakup, they go about that goal in very different ways. Ceresia’s remix is touching, beautiful and almost like a ballad, while Trina’s is savage, cutting and features fresh lyrics. If I had to choose one that “did it better” it would be Trina’s – I like how her track samples Drake and plays around with her own sound while still being recognizable as Hotline Bling.

Think Piece 2: Remix Videos

The original source material for my chosen remix videos comes from a segment of the Italian version of a kid’s TV show called “Dinosaurs Adventure.” For whatever reason, this 10 second segment of the show went viral on YouTube in 2014, and currently has 58,450,305 views:

This short clip has been the source of many different remixes that have been especially focused on the dinosaur that says “yee.” The main intrigue of this video is probably just the way the dinosaur says “yee,” since it sounds both ridiculous yet somehow hilarious, as well as the disappointed look on the other dinosaur’s face after it gets told “yee.” This viral video has been the source of countless memes, consumer products, and of course, remix videos. Here are two of these remix videos:

“Yee Pineapple Apple Yee” is based on the song “PPAP (Pen Pineapple Apple Pen)” by Pikotaro, and currently has 2,144,151 views on YouTube.

“20th Centuryee Yee” combines the original yee video with the 20th Century Fox video, and currently has 3,961,331 views on YouTube.

Both of these remixes mash “yee” with samples from another source material that many of us are already familiar with. The main intention of both of these remixes lies in creating humor from the mash-up of a viral YouTube video and a song or jingle that is familiar to us. Both of them also take the original “yee” video and edit it to sound more like a song, though the first one relies more on the actual PPAP song to have most of the musical elements. Both of them are also relatively short; the first video does not utilize the entire PPAP song, and the second video relies on a short jingle. This shortness makes them each more successful for their humorous aspects, because they don’t give the viewer time to get bored by the repetition of yee.

While both remixes aim to add more humor to the already humorous source material, there are several differences between how they accomplish this. “Yee Pineapple Apple Yee” uses only the faces of the dinosaur characters, whereas “20th Centuryee Yee” uses the full bodies of the dinosaur characters, which also look more high-def than the ones in the original yee video. The voices of the dinosaur characters also replace the voice of Pikotaro in PPAP, while the voices of the dinosaur characters in “20th Centuryee Yee” are added on top of the original 20th Century Fox jingle rather than replacing it.

Overall, I personally find the “20th Centuryee Yee” remix to be more successful than “Yee Pineapple Apple Yee.” This is because the original yee video is edited more to fit in with the other source material, and covers the entirety of the 20th Century Fox jingle. Additionally, the addition of the unedited yee video at the end of the remix is a nice touch. However, the use of a more high-def “yee” is a little off-putting, since the version of “yee” that went viral is lower definition. It’s unclear what the remixer is trying to accomplish by using a different version of the viral video.

Video Remix // Ewa Oberska

For the purpose of this think piece I have decided to take the original show The Real Housewives of New York (or anywhere else) and compare them to the remakes found on YouTube. Needless to say, it was one of the most entertaining pieces of research I’ve ever done.

The original series, The Real Housewives of New York, New Jersey, Beverly Hills, Orange County, etc. is an American franchise that has been thriving ever since its first release in 2006. Upon researching its media response and remakes, I came to the conclusion that this might be one of the most frequently remixed shows/series, for obvious reasons: the original episodes are quite hilarious therefore, it’s even easier to make them into a parody.
The remixes of the franchise I focused on in my research are: Las Verdaderas Housewives de la Republica Dominicana (titled on YouTube as ‘If Housewives Were Dominican‘) and The Real Housewives of Disney (titled on YouTube as ‘Disney Housewives – Saturday Night Live‘).

I believe both remixes are in a sense similar. If Housewives Were Dominican parodies the original and utilizes it to some cultural traits of Dominican wives. I think the most explicit example is when, during the intro, each of the women is holding a platano (a plantain, which is largely associated with Dominicans) for no reason whatsoever. The Disney version focuses on ‘what if the princesses were wives’, and then alters their personalities, as originally depicted in Disney movies, to make them less idealized, more aggressive and modern, resembling the protagonists of the original series.

At a first glance, the two remixes might not seem like they differ much. Both of them are funny, a little ridiculous, they are based on one TV show and they follow the original’s format (for instance: introducing the housewives, the intro, etc.). However, if we break down what they took and what they changed from the original, it turns out they might have a little less in common. Let us take into consideration two aspects of the original series: (1) the idea and form of the ‘housewives’ show itself, and (2) the characteristics and personalities of the housewives. While the form of the remixes is very comparable, the traits and depiction of the characters have different basis, as in case of the Disney parody, the behavior and characteristics of the women are very much based on the original, with some references to their idealized Disney movies. However, in case of The Real Housewives of Dominican Republic, it is slightly more based on the Dominican culture with some references to it, and following the original characters less.

Annie Seaman–Think Piece 02 Comparing Remixes

During the 2009 MTV video music awards, Kanye West infamously interrupted Taylor Swift as she was accepting her award for the “Best Female Video” category. Here is West interrupting Swift that night:

West’s interruption and following declaration quickly morphed into the “I’mma let you finish” Internet meme. In 2016, Rolling Stone Magazine partnered with DJ Steve Porter to create a remix of West’s interruption titled, “Imma Let You Finish Remix,” which can be seen below:

DJ Steve Porter combined a lot of remix techniques to create this catchy song. He first utilizes the autotune method to create the sound and beat of the remixed song. He also uses the supercut technique to combine videos of West and Swift as well as other prominent musicians either presenting or accepting an honor at an award show. The use of the supercut here brings a sense of legitimacy to the song because it is edited to rhyme and have a specific cadence that is familiar in popular music. The supercut also places the video in context. This remix was created seven years after the original source material was released. Although West’s interruption has been well remembered, I think DJ Steve Porter was smart to incorporate other materials to better situated the source in culture. This also allowed for the video to take on a broader meaning and serves as a commentary on the prevalence of award shows in culture. The wider commentary on award shoes is evident in this remix because it incorporates other tropes apparent in award shows. He includes phrases like, “I’d like to thank,” “the award (Grammy) goes to,” and “the winner is” in the song to stress the somewhat comical overuse of these phrases.

The second remix was created within the same week in September of the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards and takes a completely different approach to remixing West’s interruption. The remix was posted on the “freeyourpixels” YouTube channel and can be watched below:

This remix imposes West’s interruption within a State of the Union address given by President Obama. This remix is successful because the timing for when West’s voice cuts in is perfect. When West cuts in, Obama’s head turns seemingly to face the voice off camera. Immediately after, the audience starts to boo and Obama responds with a simple, “it’s not true.” Again, this remix was released immediately after the VMA show so just the inclusion of the audio (absent of the video clip) is enough to make a big impact and make the remix comical. This remix is short but very effective because of the combination of the perfect timing of when West “interrupts” President Obama and the immediate release of the remix soon after the original incident.

Although very different, I think both remixes were successful. The first remix used classic techniques to create a song that makes a broader statement and the second video mixes pop culture and politics to create a comical clip.

Cristian Tapia Think Piece Hotline Bling remixes

A video that has had a large number of remixes created from its original version is Drake’s Hotline Bling. I chose to focus on two remixes of this original song that add a layer of humor to the original video. The first remix is The Star Wars Bling. It adds a star wars theme to hotline bling such as lightsabers and R2-D2 in the mix of it. The second video is named Who Says Drake Cant Dance Latin Music. Heres Proof. This remix adds different types of Latin music over the original Hotline Bling video. It only alters the order of the music video to match the songs.

The Spanish remix has several clips of Drake dancing in Hotline Bling along with different types of Spanish music. This remix features Drake dancing to popular songs across different genres of Latin music such as dembow, merengue, bachata, reggaeton, and salsa. It is almost like Drake’s moves were meant for all of these different songs. The music is very carefully calculated to make sure that it is in sync with the songs. I did not think that this music would be able to mix so well with one of Drake’s songs until I saw this remix. As long as a song is in the right place throughout Drake’s video, it can work here.

The star wars remix does not necessarily change the music but instead adds some extra features into the original video. This video equips Drake with two handy lightsabers throughout the video that he passionately wields as he dances. He also deflects laser shots being fired at him with these lightsabers. He is then cut out of the video and inserted into the star wars universe where he shows up as a hologram. Here he continues to dance with several notable characters from star wars celebrating along with him. Hotline Bling was a notable song that came along with many interesting remixes, but of those remixes, these two are definitely notable. I have included the links below if anyone is interested in checking out these remixes.

 

Who Says Drake Cant Dance Latin Music. Heres Proof.:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBuzT7DBlVY

 

Star Wars Bling (Hotline Bling Parody) EXTENDED:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bILi7hy_VtQ

Girl Talk’s Shut The Club Down response // Ewa Oberska

Upon listening to Shut The Club Down by Girl Talk I realized I recognized nearly half of the sampled by Girl Talk music pieces. Even though the used songs came from all kinds of different musical genres, they played together surprisingly well. It made me think that while creating music that belongs to a certain genre is challenging, using nearly 20 completely different pieces to create another one that doesn’t sound like a number of randomly joined sounds can be even more challenging. According to Church, “Sampling as a musical practice rejects linear order and focuses instead on aesthetic appropriateness, which is governed by opportune timing,” (Church 46). It made a lot of sense when I first read it, but repeatedly listening and analyzing the flow and transitions in Girl Talk’s work made me understand Church’s work on a whole new level, not merely theoretically.

Church claims that “Remix artists will consider the final product successful if they, like orators, can sustain the audience’s attention as well as help persuade it that the aesthetic choices were appropriate.”, and I believe that based on what he says, Girl Talk did a great job not only in Shut The Club Down, but also in terms of his entire Feed The Animals album. The samples he uses are short, the transitions are fast, but smooth. He does not jump between songs, he sustains the ‘flow’ in his works, but at the same time they are so diverse and constantly changing that they keep the audience interested, listening, as we know Girl Talk pieces are not repeatable.

Having studied Girl Talk as an artist I knew that one of his favorite music genres is hiphop which is clearly visible after studying the types and numbers of the songs he sampled. In Shut The Club Down, over half of the sampled works is categorized as either hip-hop or rap. After studying the origins of every hip-hop song he sampled in Shut The Club Down, what I found exceptionally interesting is that it was not only created using samples from 17 other songs, but many more than that. *Every* hip-hop song Girl Talk sampled, had been created using other songs, and some of those songs were even earlier based on others. Therefore, can we really say that Girl Talk samples works that completely belong to the artists he credits?

Girl Talk Think Piece (Vasudevan)

Overall I found Girl Talk’s album All Day a very interesting remix – composed of long tracks, each with a structurally consistent beat underneath and a diverse mash-up of mostly hip hop songs vocalizing on top. In general, I agree with Churchill’s review of Girl Talk’s album – All Day truly blends a diversity of sources, old and new and from various genres, into clear “songs” that flow together and contain refrains and themes. He meets the criterion Churchill sets “of selecting samples by their due appropriateness to the mash-up at hand” (50). With instruments from 70’s bands under vocals of 2000’s hip hop groups over beats from rock bands, the end result is often surprising yet not abrasive.

 

I chose to examine the track “Steady Shock” because I particularly liked the diverse and unexpected beats under hip hop lyrics – a fresh yet “appropriate” mix, as Churchill defines it. The song opens with the refrain from “Go Shorty Go” bouncing over the beat of Clipse’s “Champion,” seemingly isolated from the rest of the instrumentals on the track, along with the very similar beat from J. Cole’s track “Blow Up.” A few seconds in, the reed instruments from Blue Oyster Cult’s 1976 hit “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” fills in the background under Travis Porter’s lyrics. At 0.13, Nicki comes in rapping, and while at first it sounds a bit hectic with the instrumental and two beats underneath, after a few bars it settles into a pleasant working harmony. I had a very difficult time determining what T-Pain contributed in less than a second at 0.36 under Nicki’s rapping, but I think it was the easy-to-miss split-second drum beat. After Nicki finishes, the instrumental break is brought in from the background of “Work Dat Lumba” until the beginning of Soulja Boy’s “Bird Walk” comes in. Interjections and instrumentals from the track continue in the background while the New Age electronic harmonies from The Cars weave in and out of a new beat from J-Kwon’s “Yeah.” Over this new blend of diverse sounds comes NERD’s vocals replayed on a loop. After a short melodic interlude, Party Boyz hits the track with the refrain from “Flex,” while some part of the beat or instrumentals from Tupac (difficult to determine) play underneath. At around 2.16 the Supergrass’ “Alright” comes in with the clearest change in tone and direction in the song thus far. With non-hip hop vocals and their instrumentals underneath, while the switch is a bit jarring it seems to work. Bone Thugs N Harmony fade in with Supergrass, mixing surprisingly well and fitting together swimmingly, and eventually fading into the “1st in tha Morning” refrain. Next, instrumentals from George Harrison subtly fade in while the refrains loop over each other. Drake’s opening of “Over” then comes in after a brief interlude. Instrumentals from Harvey Danger fade in as “Shine” weaves into the background music. The guitar riff (I think?) from A Flock of Seagulls joins the instrumentals. After a few more verses from Drake, the tone changes with Outkast replacing him as the main vocalist while Nirvana joins the background music and Three 6 Mafia joins in with lyrics and instrumentals. Finally, Pheonix closes it out with faded-in instrumentals while “My Chick Bad” plays over.

 

Overall I really enjoyed this track specifically, as well as Girl Talk’s style, music choices and mixes. While some parts were blended together so well it was difficult to determine which songs contributed which elements, others stayed more true to the original tracks while still bringing in something unexpected, like an interesting new beat or guitar riff in the background.

Girl Talk Think Piece (Vasudevan)- Cristian Tapia

Scott H. Church thoroughly describes the methodology necessary to create a true remix and the means to determine their success. “Sampling as a musical practice rejects linear order and focuses instead on aesthetic appropriateness, which is governed by opportune timing,” (Church 46). Girls Talk is composed of songs that do not just play right after the other but instead transition harmoniously from one song to the next. I was surprised at the variety of songs from different genres that managed to go into this remix almost unnoticed.

The remix Triple Double does a very good job at transitioning from one song to the next. It is a remix composed of 14 different songs that have been meticulously chosen to be in this specific remix. Upon listening to these different songs, it became evident as to why these specific songs were chosen. All the different rhythms bring you back to the different classics that span across decades of music such as Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones, 1901 by Phoenix, and In Bloom by Nirvana. These songs are combined with songs that can be easily recognized today such as Diva by Beyonce, Forever by Drake, and Black and Yellow by Wiz Khalifa. These are all songs that can be recognized by people of different ages and taste in music.

This last week was the first time I got the chance to experience the remixes from Girls Talk. Triple Double was the one that appealed to me because of its unpredictability. It had me guessing what the next song was going to be throughout its entirety. The transitions between songs were well executed and thoroughly thought out. Church has a method to determine the success of a remix. The remix is a success if the “Remix artists will consider the final product successful if they, like orators, can sustain the audience’s attention as well as help persuade it that the aesthetic choices were appropriate. The practice of selecting samples by their “due appropriateness to the [mashup] at” (Church 50). The attention of the audience is essential in a remix. Triple dog grasped my attention and did not allow me to become accustomed to the same melody or the same types of songs. By the definition that Church has created to determine the fluidity and success of a remix, this remix is a success in its very essence. It is able to capture you with at least one song that you know and love and keeps you there for just a little longer to introduce you to a new variation of it.

Girl Talk Think Piece (Vasudevan)

According to Scott H. Church’s “A Rhetoric of Remix,” Girl Talk’s “This is The Remix” makes use of rhetorical and aesthetic invention through the sampling of songs from genres that would seemingly clash, yet create a positive result (Church 49). “That’s Right” essentially accomplishes the same effect, although a large portion of the songs sampled come from hip hop and pop, which are two genres that are commonly mashed together, as we discussed in class. I chose this particular piece because it included both my favorite and least favorite mashup sections of the whole album.

My favorite part of the mashup is definitely when the instrumental from “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus is mixed with “Ante Up” by M.O.P. The samples mix extremely well together, although it is a pretty common thing to do, since “Party in the USA” is pop while “Ante Up” is hip hop. There was one place, however, where I thought the mashup didn’t work, about 2:53-3:52. I don’t mean to insult Beyonce, but her vocals from “Single Ladies” didn’t seem to fit with the instrumentals from M.O.P’s “Ante Up.” However, given the amount of craft that went into producing this album, this may have been done on purpose. This section of the mashup is a part where the song builds up to a beat change, so perhaps the listener is meant to feel that there is a slight clashing of sounds. Additionally, these songs are from genres that should theoretically work well together, suggesting that Girl Talk is trying to show that similar genres do not necessarily mix well with each other – experimentation with other genres is encouraged.

By listening to both the original tracks and the mashup, it was interesting to see which parts of the original songs Girl Talk decided to sample from. The first part of “That’s Right,” which sounded like 0:00 – 0:20 based on how the beat changes, includes samples from the lyrics of Rihanna’s “Rude Boy,” the drum-like instrumental from Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Posse on Broadway,” the horn-like instrument from Boogie Down’s “South Bronx,” the high pitched drum-like sounds from Whodini’s “I’m a Ho,” and lyrics from Fabulous ft. Nate Dogg’s “On to the Next One.” Some of these samples were altered from the original, such as the pitch of the sample from Whodini’s “I’m a Ho” and the echo added to Rihanna’s “Rude Boy,” while others sounded just about the same, such as the drums from Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Posse on Broadway.” It was also ironic, and perhaps done on purpose, that the beginning of “That’s Right” samples from the beginnings of each of these songs, making them easily identifiable. Not all of the samples were easily identifiable, however. For example, I couldn’t tell how “On to the Next One” by Jay-Z ft. Swizz Beatz (0:18-0:20) was sampled, but it could have been an altered version of the drums. There were also some samples that were very short but still distinguishable. For example, DMX’s “What’s My Name?” is sampled for less than a second, but his voice is quite distinguishable. The short addition of Jay-Z’s drums makes sense, because it signifies a beat change, but it is unclear why “What’s My Name?” was included at all, given the fact that its sample is so miniscule.

The message that Girl Talk is trying to get across perhaps lies within the lyrics. Most of the vocals are sampled from hip hop and pop tracks, with the main vocals coming from Rihanna’s “Rude Boy,” Fabulous ft. Nate Dogg’s “On to the Next One,” Foxy Brown’s “Hot Spot,” Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” Terror Squad’s “Lean Back,” Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” and M.O.P’s “Ante Up.” By listening to the female vocalists in juxtaposition with the male vocalists, it is possible that the song has hints of girl power. For example, the introduction is almost like a conversation between Rihanna and Fabulous/Nate Dogg, where Fabulous/Nate Dogg raps things like “y’all can’t deny, I’m a f*ckin rider” while Rihanna repeatedly says “rude boy.” Later in the mashup, there seems to be another conversation between Foxy Brown and Peter Gabriel. While Peter Gabriel sings “I wanna touch the light I see in the heat in your eyes,” Foxy Brown sings about just wanting to have fun with her girls. The juxtaposition of these vocals essentially creates these conversations.

Overall, “That’s Right” is a successful piece in the same way that “This is The Remix” is successful. In both the sheer amount of sources that it samples from, as well as the aesthetic way all the samples are mixed together, Girl Talk successfully creates the elements of “novelty and surprise” that Church discusses (Church 50).

Remix Think Piece 01 Girl Talk (Vasudevan)–Annie Seaman

I chose to study “Triple Double,” the eleventh track off of Girl Talk’s album, All Day. The song is six and a half minutes long and samples from about 27 different songs. The usage of these samplings is very diverse and range from a one second drumbeat to the near entirety of a rap. The sampled songs were also picked from very diverse genres, spanning from rap and hip-hop to pop and alternative rock.

Although Girl Talk sampled from a wide variety of genres and artists, when compiling them all into this one track, the group followed similar patterns for their mashups. The most common pattern Girl Talk used in this track was placing a rap song over top a recognizable pop song. This deliberate mixing of genres appears at least four times throughout the song. The first occurrence is a Ludacris rap over a Beyoncé and Phoenix (alternative pop) instrumental beat. Then Lil Wayne raps over the melody of a Joe Jackson 1982 pop song. Followed by a verse rapped by Crooked I over a Neil Diamond alternative rock song. Finally, the track ends with a rap by Wiz Khalifa over the extremely recognizable melody by The Rolling Stones. In all of these cases, the lyrics are stripped from the pop and rock songs, thereby leaving only the melodies that are looped and played under the rapped verse. After listening to the original versions of the remixed songs, I found a few similarities that could explain why Girl Talk chose to mash some of the tracks together. For example, the final Wiz Khalifa/The Rolling Stones mashup had a very common theme: the color black. “Black and Yellow” (Khalifa) and “Paint It, Black” (The Rolling Stones) were mashed together because of the obvious link, the color black, between the two songs. Although the lyrics were removed from The Rolling Stones track, the melody is so widely recognizable that when placed under Wiz Khalifa’s rap, it was very easy for listeners to find the connection. I first thought that this mashup was a bit comical just because of the very obvious connection. It almost seemed a little too amateur and almost uncreative but after listening to it many more times, I found it quite catchy and I think it musically works.

While the Wiz Khalifa/The Rolling Stones mashup had a common theme, there were other tack combinations that I found hard to match a common theme or binding link. For example, the Lil Wayne/Joe Jackson mashup worked musically but seemed strange in terms of common themes. Where Lil Wayne’s rap is about his success and life as a millionaire, Jackson’s track is about convincing a woman to get dressed up and walk out of the house. No connection I can think of. There are also some mashups that not only lack a common thematic thread, but also have opposing views altogether. For instance, the first mashup of Ludacris/Beyoncé/Phoenix seemed quite troublesome to me. Beyoncé’s song, “Diva,” is about women having control over their lives and working hard and fighting to find their successes while Ludacris’ song, “How Low,” seems to be about women dancing for a man and includes a not so subliminal message of male dominated oral sex. I think this mashup failed because it is not done in a way that puts the tracks in conversation, rather it seems as though Girl Talk was blind to the meaning of the songs or simply ignored the tension between the messages. I think mashing opposing songs together can be a very effective tool for moving a message. An example that comes to mind is Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda,” which is a response to the Sir Mix-a-Lot “Baby Got Back” track. This was successful because the opposing meanings were highlighted and used as a way to start a dialogue. The Ludacris/Beyoncé mashup did not do that at all.

February 5, 2018