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Scene Selections – Best Mashups

, , , and | Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Claire Kopischke

There are many song mashups littered around sites such as YouTube, Soundcloud and Reddit — some good, some … not so much. Scene chose some of our favorites so you don’t have to sift through the mud to find the gems.


“Touch the Sky // Soul Meets Body” – Death Cab for Yeezy

Mashup of: “Touch the Sky” (Kanye West) and “Soul Meets Body” (Death Cab for Cutie)

by Adam Ramos, Scene Editor

The best mashups usually come from unlikely places. Often times, when combining music from two distinct artists something wonderful happens — if you don’t believe me just listen to Danger Mouse’s infamous “Grey album.” It is for this reason why the “Death Cab for Yeezy” mashup makes me so happy.

In the midst of the chaos that was West’s “The Life of Pablo” album rollout, a Reddit user quietly dropped an entire mashup album pairing the rap icon with long-time indie rock darlings Death Cab for Cutie. While only available online for a fleeting moment before it was scrubbed from almost everywhere, the album was a fascinating look into each artist’s environments. Death Cab’s signature mellow guitar chord progressions work as perfect foils to West barbed verses, creating a surreal listening experience somewhere between a meditation and a riot.

The particular song I chose for this selection is a mashup of West’s “Touch the Sky” and Death Cab’s “Soul meets Body.” Apart from the fact that each song is a favorite from the respective artist’s catalogue, the mix just works. The cadence of the guitar strumming matches extremely well with West’s bars.


“Over, The Dog Days Are” – terrencesmall 

Mashup of: “Over” (Drake) and “Dog Days Are Over” (Florence + The Machine)

By Ryan Israel, Scene Writer

I take immense pleasure in the fact that I will be able to incorporate the incredibly talented Drake into two consecutive Scene Selections. While “God’s Plan” is the Toronto rapper’s newest release, “Over” comes from his debut studio album “Thank Me Later.” I would like to thank Drake right now for contributing to the smashing mashup that is “Over, The Dog Days Are.”

When Drake’s already energetic verses are dropped on the simplistic high tempo beat from “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + The Machine something unique is created. The verses are brought to the forefront of the new creation, and it’s hard not to sing along after a listen or two. Florence’s light and breezy chorus remains and serves to maintain the tempo while offsetting Drake’s trademark tone.

The inventive combination makes for the ideal party song, and it becomes hard to decide which artist’s contribution is best. I have reached the point where I would rather listen to the mashup than either of the originals, which is a sign of an exceptional combo.


“Never Gonna Give Your Teen Spirit Up” – DJ Morgoth

Mashup of: “Never Gonna Give You Up” (Rick Astley) and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana)

by Brian Boylen, Scene Writer

I want to act astonished that this exists. Having grown up with the monster that is the Internet, however, my only surprise is that I didn’t find this earlier.

There is a beautiful simplicity to this song. Rick Astley and Nirvana are vastly different artists in every sense, but combine to create something much greater than the sum of its parts. The rhythm and energy of Astley’s voice layer over Nirvana’s riffs flawlessly. There is something deeply satisfying to hearing the vocal chorus of “Never Gonna Give You Up” blast in to your ears over the instrumental chorus of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” I imagine a large part of why this works so well is simply that these are two of the most recognizable choruses in music.

I was lamenting the fact that I would never see this performed live when I found a video of Rick Astley on stage with the Foo Fighters. Lo and behold, Astley began to belt out those iconic lyrics over Nirvana’s iconic chords. I have heard many mashups in my day, but none come quite to the level this one does.


“Personal Skinhead” – smallteeth

Mashup of: “Personal Jesus” (Depeche Mode) and “Black Skinhead” (Kanye West)

by Megan Valley, Assistant Managing Editor

The entire soundtrack for “Atomic Blonde” is peak ‘80s: David Bowie, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Clash, amongst others, accompany Charlize Theron as she graces us with her presence as a kick-butt spy in Germany on the cusp of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The best music, though, comes from the excellently crafted trailer: a mash-up of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” and Kanye’s “Black Skinhead.”

The breathy percussion in “Black Skinhead” is instantly recognizable, as is the bluesy guitar riff in “Personal Jesus.” Played over each other, the effect is not quite frantic, but certainly aggressively driving and relentless.  

“Black Skinhead,” of course, is a single from Kanye’s sixth studio album, “Yeezus,” so the connection with “Personal Jesus” works well thematically, even transcending the context of this specific Kanye song and touching on the album it’s pulled from. Depeche Mode’s lead singer, Dave Gahan, drones the chorus — “I will deliver / You know I’m a forgiver … I’ll make you a believer” — throughout, hovering beneath Kanye’s impassioned and performatively threatening verses. The effect is reverently chant-like — by the end, you’re ready to accept your own personal Yeezus.


“Lullaby for Gorillaz”

Mashup of: “Lullaby” (The Cure) and “Tomorrow Comes Today” (Gorillaz)

By Molly Chen, Scene Writer

Most mashups that I have come across combine similar sounding popular hits with one another to create ultimate dance tracks. While these can be fun to listen to, it’s usually the unexpected mixes that are the most impressive — the combinations of songs that otherwise have existed in completely different genres or eras. In creating any mashup, though, arguably the most difficult component is ensuring that the finished product doesn’t sound contrived.

Despite already being familiar with both of the songs that were used, to me, “Lullaby for Gorillaz” doesn’t really sound like a mashup at all. The track blends The Gorillaz’s somber “Tomorrow Comes Today” with The Cure’s bizarre and haunting track “Lullaby” to form one eerie, nightmarish mashup. Rather than mash the two songs completely, however, the creator behind the mix was able to keep the fundamental qualities of both tracks intact by replacing Robert Smith’s stirring whispers with Damon Alban’s dismal lyrics. The track still maintains the nightmarish chills that the instantly identifiable plucked strings of “Lullaby” instill in listeners simply by layering Alban’s isolated vocals over them.

One could argue that the best mashups don’t sound like mashups at all. The creator of “Lullaby for Gorillaz” was able to create something that, despite using songs released twelve years apart, sounds like an original song on its own, making it an overall impressive mix.

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About Brian Boylen

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About Adam Ramos

Adam is studying international economics in the class of 2018. He hails from beautiful New Jersey and says "draw" instead of "drawer."

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About Ryan Israel

Ryan is the Former Scene Editor (2020-2021). He is currently washed up. Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryizzy.

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About Megan Valley

Megan Valley was Assistant Managing Editor for The Observer. She majored in English and the Program of Liberal Studies and hailed from Flushing, Michigan.

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About Molly Chen

Molly is a senior anthropology major from Davenport, IA.

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