Music: Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Drunk

The best Pop music is fun ... but booze makes it funner

 
Gregg Gillis


Mess you up



Last week, Gregg Gillis — the track-sculptor better known as Girl Talk — released his new album, Feed the Animals. Released as one of those new-fangled "pay what you want" downloads on his Web site, Animals follows in the same vein as Gillis' breakthrough last record, Night Ripper, a short-attention-span dream/nightmare that mixed any and every (well, seemingly) Pop and Rap radio track from the last 25 years.

Feed the Animals is equally ear-twisting. Literally every couple of bars introduces a new snippet, beat, rhyme or hook borrowed from Radiohead, Donna Summer, Flo Rida, Spencer Davis Group, M.I.A., Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, 2 Live Crew, "Whoot, There It Is," Usher's latest hit, "Love in the Club" and a 500 GB iPod's worth of others.

It would take a whole other essay to address the theories on Gillis' music and its "merit." Is he a clever thief (royalties are apparently not paid for the use of hundreds of sampled tracks) or an encyclopedia of mixmastering brilliance? What Gillis and Hip Hop producers do is usually more overt, but is it really that far off from British Rock bands like Led Zeppelin rewriting old Blues songs in their own image (and often not giving credit)?

My attraction to Girl Talk is simple — it is a complete blast to experience. His albums are like Pop culture trivia games. I'm not so much drawn to the music in an "Oh wow, I loved that song" kind of way — that's more the domain of '80s dance night fanatics.

My thrill comes from how Gillis combines tracks. Seemingly unlikely bedfellows like Public Enemy, Cheap Trick, '90s one hit wonders Len, Missy Elliott and of-the-moment new Pop upstart Yael Naim sound like they were made for each other on "No Pause" (and that's only about a third of the recognizable samples on the three-minute-long track).

Gillis' basic modus operandi is the same as most club DJs and mix-tape makers, but it's his clear sense of joy in twisting and bending the tracks to fit together perfectly that is so infectious. Though the novelty of it might wear thin after a few listens (a la a comedy album), the collection is a timeless, slam-dunk DJ set at probably any club in America (save maybe a honky tonk in Nebraska).

Outside of the mostly angsty Rock world, the Top 40 is full of tracks that can be considered "fun." That's not a dirty word. Fun can't be intellectualized. Then it's no fun. Does all music have to make you think?

With "fun" as the theme, I began thinking of how to make music even more pleasurable. The answer, of course: Drinking games!

Giving music an interactive component is some serious "next level" shit, like Moby giving us tracks on his CD to mix ourselves or Beck telling us to design our own damn album cover. Below is some interaction a little less creative, but a whole lot more proletarian. Please, play Pop music drinking games responsibly. Remember, friends don't let friends run out of alcohol.

· For the Girl Talk "Name That Tune or Chug" game, gather up some pals, a few bottles of your favorite spirits and the Feed the Animals download. Have the "pause" button close by. Using the rules of Uno or Bingo, players must shout "Girl Talk" when they recognize a sample. Press "pause" and, if the player is correct, everyone else must do a shot. Given the sample-heaviness, you will be wasted halfway through the first track. But you'll also be dancing!

· Timbaland deserves credit as one of his generation's best producers. But can the man ever just shut up and knob-twiddle? For the "Timbaland Says 'Yeah" game, collect Timbaland's greatest production credits from the past five years. Every time you hear Tim's voice — usually mumbling something useful like, "Uh huh" or "Go ahead, girl" or "Madonna" — do a shot. Last drinker standing is the winner. Warning: Playing this game while listening to Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous" may result in acute alcohol poisoning. Please consult a doctor first.

· Modern Death Metal, Hardcore and Screamo appeals to something primal in young men. Those heavy guitars, those guttural shrieks, those lyrics about ... uh, well, your guess is as good as mine. Grab some recordings by the screamiest of the new Metal brigade and drink when you can correctly identify one lyric. Not just a word (who can't make out a 'Yeah!" here and there?), but a complete phrase. And, no, "mrrrrrphhhraggghhhhh!" doesn't count.

· A single note from Van Halen's David Lee Roth years slays everything Sammy Hagar ever did with the band. But, like Timbaland, Dave seemed to think that his gift-from-God voice deserved to be heard over practically every second of every track, whether he's "singing" or not. Gather up those DLR/VH albums and prepare for the "Diamond Dave Needs a Muzzle" game. Each time DLR stops singing (or howling or "yeah, yeah"-ing), take a shot. You will mostly be drinking exclusively during Eddie's guitar solos. "Eruption" should be eliminated for safety reasons.

· Jack Johnson's records are full of breezy vibes and mellow grooves. The former surfer — the Perry Como of Modern Pop — has made several successful albums that just, uh, kinda ... sorry, dozed off for a second just thinking about his music. Put on JJ and drink if you can stay awake.

· The "3 Shots Down" game is simple — put on a 3 Doors Down album and take three shots every time you wonder, "Why are these guys famous?" Recommended for experienced drinkers only. Play with a 3DD fan so you have a designated driver. And someone to make fun of. ©

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