The Hum of its Parts (With Video)

January 5, 2009, 12:00 am; posted by
Filed under Bwog, Steve  | No Comments

The frighteningly homogenized specter that is American popular music is laid bare in this video, an astounding and technically brilliant mashup of 2008’s top 25 singles, created by the aptly dubbed DJ Earworm.

Over the orchestral fullness of backing track “Viva La Vida,” the piece holds up musically — in truth, vastly outshining most of its ingredients. But the true measure of its genius comes not from the seamless integration of the songs, but from their respective spliced videos, which serve as a virtual laboratory report on our cultural fixations.

Row after row of gyrating, underclothed women, blurring what remains of the line between empowerment and objectification. Preening, posing men in dollar store sunglasses, their caps perfectly askew. Money. Diamonds. Exclusive nightclubs. If it weren’t for Sara Bareilles’ nose and Coldplay constantly banging on stuff, I’m not sure I’d be able to tell anyone apart.

In the end, the concept is so successful because, with rare exception, these already ARE one song, certainly one video. By editing away much of what identified the individual artists, DJ Earworm not only created a catchy mix of radio-ready hooks; he also exposed the underlying superficiality of popular music and American culture, in a Trojan horse of a tune that satirizes as it showcases. And the fact that most viewers won’t even give it a second thought simply reinforces the truth of the message.

Is it a news flash that popular culture is shallow, base, repetitive, and perverse? No. But any reminder is a good one. Don’t tell me you’re sorry, music industry — ’cause you’re not.


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