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Thoughts on Girl Talk

by Stephen Becker 24 Jun 2011 1:59 PM

Last night’s show at the Granada provided plenty of food for thought. But there was one thing that needed no contemplation: This was about as much fun as you can have at a concert.


When the tickets for last night’s Girl Talk show at the Granada Theater went on sale a month or so ago, they sold out in an hour. And it wasn’t just because they were priced at $7.11 (thanks to the Dallas-based purveyor of the Slurpee).

It was because spending a night with Girl Talk (a.k.a. Gregg Gillis) is about as much fun as you can have at a concert.

For the uninitiated, Girl Talk has taken the mashup to the highest of highs by blending hundreds of songs together over the course of his five albums. A hook here, a beat there, this rap verse alternated with that chorus. The thrill comes in playing an endless game of Name That Tune while listening for which familiar track he’s going to bring in next. Mixing Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” with the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black” was a particularly inspired choice.

The scene last night at the Granada matched the music – plenty of dancers were soaked in sweat minutes into the show. Ever so often, confetti or balloons or toilet paper rolls would be fired out onto the crowd. The usual assortment of random video images cycled through the two large screens on either side of the stage. All the while, Gillis rocked back and forth with one hand on the keyboard and the other working the mouse.

It was sensory overload in the best possible sense, a party designed for the ADD generation.

But it was still an experience that allowed for thought. Things that crossed my mind on the way back to the car:

  • What’s this doing for the song?: Gillis’ basic approach is: If listening to one of your favorite songs is fun, then listening to two of them at the same time is double the fun – a concept you can play out exponentially. The problem comes when you go back and listen to the songs individually. Removing all of the embellishments can make a perfectly high-energy song seem lacking. Once Gillis has made the connection between two or more songs in your head, it’s hard to extract them from one another.
  • Is this the future of cover bands?: This topic probably wouldn’t have been front of mind had I not spent the first part of my night at the Concerts in the Garden show at the Dallas Arboretum. Blaze of Glory “the Bon Jovi Experience” was on the bill; all of your karaoke favorites were on the set list. It allowed for plenty of time to wonder: Will we have any new cover bands to play these types of gigs 10 years from now. Quick – name the band with a ton of recent radio hits that you think could spawn a worthy cover band in the near future. The answer is: there aren’t any. We’re still squarely entrenched in a hip-hop and glossy-pop era of music. The Billboard Top 10 this week features Adele, Pitbull, Katy Perry (twice!) Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Bruno Mars and Lupe Fiasco. This isn’t a judgment on the population’s taste, but there’s not an actual instrument-playing band among them. The closest thing to it is Jason Aldean, and he’s got Ludicris helping him out on “Dirt Road Anthem.” We could be heading to the Arboretum for A Hard Night’s Day and Petty Theft for quite some time. And remix artists like Girl Talk will most likely be the path through which we reconnect with those old hits.
  • How soon before Girl Talk gets called in to start producing and/or remixing tracks for other artists?: My prediction – any day now.