Girl Talk is the musical equivalent of what I like to call iTunes Syndrome. This refers to a phenomenon in which, due to our ADHD lifestyle and technology that allows us to store months worth of music on an object the size of a postage stamp, we never listen to a song all the way through.
You know what I mean. You're driving around in your car with a friend, and by the time whatever you're listening to hits the 2-minute mark, you hit the 'NEXT' button.
Well, Girl Talk takes iTunes Syndrome to a whole new level. Gregg Gillis (the man behind the music) mashes up dozens of songs in one track to create a fast-paced, surprising, fun dance tune. The songs he chooses range from 1960s girl-group pop to gangsta rap, but the unifying factor is their popularity. Gillis is clearly a Top 40 enthusiast, a lover of pop culture.
Looking at what's popular is really interesting, especially if you think about it on a deeper level than just "Oh, there's Ke$ha again with another one of her party anthems! How annoying." Popularity has implications that extend further than merely 'what the kids are listening to these days.' Possessing the technology and the wealth of music knowledge that Gillis clearly does makes for something of a case study in society. What do we like? Why do we like it? What happens when we put two different things that we like together?
(Take, for example, Girl Talk's "Smash Your Head," in which he famously combines Biggie Smalls' "Juicy" and Elton John's "Tiny Dancer.")
If you're curious about what songs you're hearing when you listen to a Girl Talk album, someone has made a website that tells you exactly that:
He's put out five albums and two EPs. All of the albums are now available for free download on his record label's website.
Girl Talk also presents questions about how we think about intellectual property and copyrights. He samples songs without permission, which is basically a lawsuit waiting to happen, yet he's still making music. I think this suggests that people recognize his work as art in its own right, despite its complete dependence on others' art for its existence.
It's post-modern as hell, and I love it. Whether you're just dancing at a party (because Girl Talk is THE BEST party music - there's something for everyone) or recontextualizing the music you love, Girl Talk rocks.
Enjoy the new album, I know I will!