The preponderance of ‘mashups’ on Glee and the X-Factor is starting to pall very badly. The latest Glee features ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ soldered to ‘Start Me Up’ without rhyme or resonance (see above). This horror is sung by the girls. The boys, meanwhile, get a similarly unconvincing crosshatch, this time of ‘Stop! In the Name of Love’ and En Vogue’s ‘Free Your Mind’. Last week’s X-Factor, a dud edition all round, blundered its best performance, Paije’s spirited and fun ‘I’m a Believer’(although listening to it after the over-produced Glee video, it may appear a little ramshackle), with a snatch of the verse and refrain from ‘Hey Ya’. What did this interpolation add to the crisp and punchy spirit of the original, other than to distract it from its course?

These are just some examples out of many. The intent, clearly, is to appear ‘relevant’. But what is relevant about artistic bankruptcy of this sort, about sheer laziness that bypasses bravery and work for collage?

The frisson that one felt at first hearing, say, a 2 Many DJs mix, at hearing a mainstream bootleg (the European name for mashup) such as ‘Smells Like Bootylicious’ or ‘A Stroke of Genie-us’ (and away from the barely-there compositional skill of the new mashups, these at least displayed some felicity of conjunction and juxtaposition, revealing something new by the mix), has expired. The only reaction that is possible now is weariness.

Far from the component songs in mash-ups being enriched by the equation, we are merely deprived of the possible vitality of each, making 1+1 not equal 2, or even more, but rather, actually, less than 1. This is postmodernism at its most limp – assemblage standing in for creation, for actual work.

Borges’ remark that ‘Life itself is a quotation’ is as pertinent as ever, it seems.


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