The successes and failures of music genre mashups
Reading Time: 2 minutes
By Joseph Ianni
Sometimes two music genres can come together in an unsuspected merger of minds that results in a novel, exciting mix sure to delight listeners of both sounds. Other times, two genres come together and we’d all rather forget that they did. Here’s a rundown of some artists who made mixed music magic — and others who should probably stick with what they know.
Ed Sheeran — “I See Fire” (Kygo Remix)
Norwegian musician and remixer Kygo isn’t the first producer to incorporate tropical tones into electronic music. However, his experimentation with folk and country songs tips into a completely different territory. The final products are downtempo and minimal tracks with a pop that makes them a great fit for a beach setting.
Future Islands — “Fall From Grace”
Post-hardcore and new wave never met in the ’80s, but Future Islands asks, why not now? The tour de force track on the band’s latest album Singles reunites two long-lost siblings separated in the punk movement, juxtaposing distorted guitars and raw vocals with eerie synthesizers and percussion.
Electronica, shoegaze, and ’80s music are the cornerstones of M83’s long career. Most known for their mainstream breakthrough album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, the innovators of synthesizers in shoegaze provide a clear medium between rock ’n’ roll and electronica that is often hard to find.
Foreign Beggars — “Contact”
These UK rappers took the dubstep movement to new heights when they added their bombastic personalities and vocals to the wobbly basslines of producers like Skrillex and NOISIA. Foreign Beggars, among others in the UK grime movement, embraced the opportunity to amplify the volatile elements of dubstep to greater heights with an added rap vocal.
Joanna Gruesome — Weird Sister
A flurry of different genres from noise to punk rock to indie pop feature in this musical project. The culmination of this mixture is often abrasive but not without ear-catching pop tendencies. Oscillating between these two modes is often a hard task, but Joanna Gruesome effortlessly wields explosive punk rock with catchy indie sweetness.
Avicii — Hey Brother
While the attempt at combining the highly marketable genres of indie folk and stadium house is admirable, the track “Wake Me Up” off Avicii’s album lacks the build-up need for a wow-worthy dance track and misses on the opportunity to incorporate the choral vocals or intimacy of indie folk.
Avril Lavigne ft. Lil’ Mama — “Girlfriend (Remix)”
It’s not exactly outside of the box to pair rock music with rap music. In fact, it’s been done several times quite well. But this pair’s attempt to meld the genres really fails to keep any of the redeeming qualities of pop rock and just becomes a generic pop song for Lil’ Mama to lay some vocals over.
Skrillex and The Doors — “Breakn’ a Sweat”
Part of a project to pair DJ/producers with musicians of an older generation, this track just falls flat. It doesn’t stir up any kind of nostalgia or reminiscent feeling regarding The Doors or make for a meaningful experiment. A few bells and whistles circle round a synth line sandwiched with a carnivalesque guitar riff. It’s a miss — but I would have been intrigued to see the interaction in the studio on this one.
Nelly ft. Tim McGraw — “Over and Over”
If you are going to make a valiant effort to bring rap music closer to country, firstly, good luck, but secondly, good idea to call Tim McGraw. Unfortunately, I would hardly describe what Nelly does on this track as rapping. The song might actually benefit from Nelly just stepping right out of the track altogether, but then it probably wouldn’t count as cross-genre.
Punk Goes Pop
These compilation albums bring post-hardcore and screamo bands together to cover current and classic pop tracks, but quite often the result is simply comical and ultimately results in completely devaluing the efforts of pop rock and pop-punk. The whole album follows the following format: clean vocal verses, breakdown, and comical throat vocals choruses.