Girl Talk, or rather DJ Gregg Gillis of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Is no music snob. That is patently clear as the opening bars of his latest LP, Feed the Animals, reveal themselves. Track 1 of this pseudo song cycle has elements of Outkast, Roy Orbison, The Unicorns, Pete Townshend and Ludacris. All in the opening 2 minutes and 29 seconds.
Unlike other mash up Djs Girl Talk is not obsessed with showing off the more obscure recesses of his music collection, pretensciously melding some obscure French 70’s Disco with a Kraftwerk B-side. Nor does his vision of a good mash up involve a “hilarious” fusion of the titles involved, such as “Can’t get Blue Monday out of my head”
Rather it’s a more basic, straightforward and fun affair with Girl Talk. Music is for entertainment. Music should make you dance before it makes you think. There are no ‘elite’ artists.
With this mantra in mind, Girl Talk effortlessly merges Pop, Classic Rock, R&B, Summer Anthems, Top 40 hits and cult classics without any hit of irony or disrespect. Greg Gillis loves his music and it shows as he throws Rhianna, Jay Z and Radiohead in the same musical melting pop on ‘Set it Off’
For the most part it works very well. The first listen is immensely rewarding to any “connoisseur ” of modern pop music, recognisable and memorable pop hooks relentlessly fly from your speakers, evoking long lost memories of summers past, faded relationships and childhood homes. It’s the music album equivalent of late night music channel surfing. Instantly gratifying, sometimes dull but numerous and eclectic enough to keep you listening.
Listening to Earth, Wind and Fire, Dexy and the Midnight runners and Rod Stewart, you can’t help but cast off any hipster pretensions and join Gregg Gillis in his multilateral appreciation of all music.
That is not to say that Feed the Animals is fast and easy, it’s no Endtroducing granted. But Girl Talk never feels like he’s indulging in a machine gun approach to pleasing his audience, songs aren’t merely an amalgamation of the biggest hooks, lazily thrown together. Girl Talk is extremely proficient at melding the hits together. Even when he does misstep the pace and frequency of the samples used usually means that it won’t be long till something you do like turns up.
Juxtapositions of genres are generally well observed, Jay Z rapping over Radiohead’s Paranoid Android offers something more than a nice hook, song “transformations” such as these are rare but well observed. Lil Wayne receives a similar treatment on one of the albums many notably highlights, when his ubiquitous summer Hip-Pop hit ‘Lollipop’ is wielded together with ‘Under the Bridge‘, which creates a more introspective and thoughtful bent to an otherwise braggart single.
However Feed the Animals remains resolutely about the fun. Much of the albums shine and brilliant sense of childlike enthusiasm does quickly ware off once the albums various surprises and crazy juxtapositions of sound and style are learnt. With the album so clearly gunning on the audiences direct reaction to this effect the albums longevity is questionable, repeated listens often fail to recreate the magic of the initial headrush of genres, artists and songs being thrown at you.
However this is not an album particularly intended to be listened to repeatedly at home. It’s for the pool parties, the summer BBQ and the school disco. In the same way it is unfair to compare this album to ‘deeper’ more ambitious mash up albums, it’s perhaps unfair to complain about its longevity, it is afterall clearly intended to be an ‘event’ album, something to be thrown on as a crowd pleaser or an ice breaker.
And it is in these goals that Girl Talk is massively successful, Feed the Animals will not hold up in the annals of time as a classic album, maybe not even as a great one. But in the right conditions, its arguably the most fun album you’ll hear in 2008.
MP3: Girl Talk – In Step