5 favourite mash-ups (with download links)

OK, so I was just discussing mash-ups with someone, and though the genre (or practice) of mash-ups is old and tired and done to death, by its very nature it can be limitlessly inventive. Over the years, I’ve heard some frankly awe-inspiring incongruities, and here are just a few of the ones I’ve loved best.

1. Nine Inch Nails – Hand That Feeds / Ghostbusters Theme

This was created by Nathan Chase for a fan remix project

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This Man Is F***ing Outrageous: A Martin Atkins Interview

martin atkins image from kickstarter

Written for Collapse Board

Martin Atkins is a man on a mission. He’s looking to break a world record, and he’s pulling out all the stops to do it. In just six days, his Kickstarter campaign has received 36% of its funding target. He’s unstoppable – and his mission is most unusual.

He’s trying to break the record for the most appearances of the word “f***” in a book.

Martin’s previous publication, Tour:Smart, was hailed as “the ultimate touring manual” by Mojo and “the Holy Grail” by Kraze. As the former drummer for NIN, Ministry and PiL as well as the founder of the band Pigface and label Invisible Records, he had little difficulty pulling together people to contribute to his guides for musicians. Henry Rollins, Chris Connelly and numerous “industry” types chipped into the first, and for his sequel, he asked … me. Continue reading

7 songs that were much better than the films they were promoting

A great soundtrack accompanying a great film is a uniquely satisfying experience. This can be anything from As Time Goes By in Casablanca to Don’t You Forget About Me in The Breakfast Club. It could be the Mortal Kombat soundtrack (I won’t have a word said against those films!), or it could be Michael Giacchino’s superlative score to Up.

Sometimes, however, there’s a mismatch between the quality of the music and the quality of the film. The promotional single – usually released in advance – might have you all fired up, only to face disappointment when you watch the movie. So here’s a shout-out to some memorable music that accompanied some pretty forgettable films.

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The life and death of a genre

cybergoth

There were always old punks lurking at the local, or skulking in the nightclub, and we thought they were OK. Punk was old and dead, and the few wrinkly remainders trying to hit on women or men half their ages were smiled at like old WWII veterans. They might be a little out-of-place, perhaps a little embarrassing, but we wouldn’t have been here if it wasn’t for them, so there was a reverence there. We respected our elders. Nearly 20 years later, I see how young people today regard my own clubbing years. On Buzzfeed, a meme is going viral where fans are taking some footage of some terribly earnest-looking industrial fans dancing and overdubbing the music with ever more ridiculous novelty hits, with even more mischief to be found on Reddit. These fans are a laughing stock – and rightly so, because they are ridiculous.

What turns it from pathetic to outright upsetting is how little resemblance either the people or the music bears to the genre I loved with such a passion. It’s painful watching something you love die. Even when I was young, the old guard complained that Nine Inch Nails weren’t “real industrial”, and we smiled because things have to evolve and grow. But now there’s no trace of anything that ever made us love it in the first place. It hasn’t just evolved, it’s an entirely separate species, and it needs to be put out of its misery. Continue reading

How To Do Festivals

Glastonbury festival-goers covered in mud

So this year’s Glastonbury line-up sucked, much like most of the bills in recent years. Let’s take a look, shall we? U2, yuck, but at least they’re “stadium rock” so you could make excuses. Coldplay? Why did someone shoot Lennon and let these guys live?* Beyoncé? Hells, no! I mean, I bought Single Ladies along with everyone else on the sodding planet and even contemplated trying to learn the dance routine before realising that I could never get my booty to shake that way. I like Beyoncé – just not in that context. Jesse J? Isn’t she the one they’ve desperately, desperately been trying to push to not much interest from anyone? They put her on the Glastonbury bill? Janelle Monáe – I’d love to see her in concert, but that would be a concert. Somewhere with plush seats and a foyer. Ke$ha, ffs? But it’s not just Glastonbury: it’s an epidemic. It’s like people have completely forgotten what festivals are supposed to do and to be, and they’re getting it wrong.

So, here is Reinspired’s public information broadcast on how festivals are supposed to work.

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Weird Al Yankovic

Youtube user RevLucio made a fan video to accompany Weird Al’s song Germs, a parody of various NIN songs (mostly Closer). It’s from the album Running With Scissors, which I recall had some pretty sweet parodies. I love this one best because it’s an absolutely fantastic song.

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How Much Is Music Worth?

Yesterday, I waffled about the music collection that includes the 21 Nine Inch Nails records we’ve paid for. Today I’m going to talk about the one that was free. It also features a pretty awesome (presumably fan-made) video with NIN as the Village People!

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“You think 925 is a lot?” observed my colleague, discussing yesterday’s post. “We have 5,000 CDs.

OK, so that’s a lot.

“Well,” she explained, “They were only about five pounds each.”

Music these days is cheap. This is a good thing in many ways, because it makes music more accessible. Music fans have essentially divided themselves in two: those who buy music and those who don’t.

Back in the old days *creak*, you either bought a record – again, for around six pounds for a vinyl album – or you taped it off a friend. There were singles you bought and singles you taped off the radio. That was how you decided its value: you’d either put up with the crackling hiss of poor-quality audiocassette or shell out for the real thing. New music was discovered through the radio, cover-mount giveaways with magazines, or home-taped compilation cassettes.

Of course, the scale of the non-purchasing was small: on average, each album would be shared between two or three people – not the 20,000 you might get on a torrent site. If you taped an album, you’d at least give it a listen, not shove it on a CD somewhere and forget it existed.

That’s the trouble with these days. I remember the first time I did it. In the days before Napster et al, my husband’s friend had a huge hard-drive full of songs he had ripped from CDs, and invited us to load up a CD-R full of free music. I grabbed two albums and a ton of miscellaneous tracks.

I realised something very strange quite early on: that I wasn’t happy with my home-burned versions of the albums I liked. I wanted to have that sense of ownership that comes with buying a record: I bought them both almost right away. I also felt guilty about what I regarded as theft.

As for the miscellaneous tracks, stripped from the context of the albums to which they belonged – or to the lovingly-assembled tracklisting of a compilation tape – they felt literally worthless. I didn’t even bother to listen to them. I have played that CD-R twice in a full decade. Any of the tracks I gave a damn about, I just bought the album.

For some reason, I get on fine with digital downloads. I think it’s the pain of purchase. Not the hassle of purchase – Amazon’s one-click checkout system is a godsend, and the bane of drunken impulse-purchasers everywhere. (Kanye West? Really?) Nope, I mean the old-fashioned bittersweet transaction of parting with hard-earned cash to enjoy the fruits of another’s labour. My sweat buys your sweat.  (They really need to fix that aircon.) The thrill of online shopping is every bit as tangible as buying something in a store: the price of a cup of tea buys me a song; I can have an hour’s music for an hour’s (minimum) wage.

When you get something free that is not a personal gift, you don’t value it. It is, quite literally, worthless. Through this, we have utterly devalued music. Those who don’t buy music often download tens of thousands of tracks which they don’t bother to listen to and certainly don’t love. There’s no appreciation there. No value. They haven’t sacrificed even the tiniest bit to own it. For me, a music purchase is a choice I’ve made between that album and a video game; that album and a lipstick; that album and a new pair of shoes. My Skechers are so worn through that they’re tearing up my socks and blistering my soles, but my ears are happier than ever.

What’s really making me happy lately is Nine Inch Nails’ 2008 album, The Slip. It was given away as a free download – crucially labeled as “a gift” from Trent Reznor to reward his fans for their many years of devotion.

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David Bowie & NIN: Hurt

I remember being very worried that the universe would explode from sheer awesome when this concert took place. Bowie in white – aloof, icily cool and alluring; Trent in black – passionate, sensual, vulnerable and sexy as hell. I never loved them more …