The Needle Drop

Neil Cicierega - Mouth Sounds

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People come up to me all the time, I mean, literally every day, and they ask me if I know of an album out there that gratuitously mashes a myriad of different pop tunes together in a violent, overwhelming display of digital editing.

Now, I can finally say "yes" to that question, and pass along Neil Cicierega's Mouth Soundsimmediately after.

This 56-minute megamix of one song layered on top of another is a bit of a novelty piece, I'll admit. And not every combination on this thing actually works--I mean, it doesn't get more mismatched than listening to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" awkwardly playing directly on top of Michael Jackon's "Billie Jean."

However, there are some amazing realizations that come about from listening to Mouth Sounds. The biggest of them is that the vocal melody to Smash Mouth's "All Star" basically works over everything--especially Modest Mouse's "Float On." I guess I should have gone into this thing expecting a gratuitous amount of Smash Mouth samples--the title is MOUTH Sounds, isn't it? There's even a freaking industrially tinged, Marilyn Manson-esque version of "All Star" toward the back end of this thing that's impossible not to laugh at.

Despite what seems like a series of tongue-in-cheek remixes, at the 26:30 mark, Neil actually embarks upon the most touching rendition of Tay Zonday's "Chocolate Rain." It would seem that without the goofy demo video and jumbled piano phrasing, it's actually a pretty moving song. Who knew?

Well, I'm sure Tay knew. And Neil obviously knew as well.

Neil is uncovering a lot more than the hidden appeal of "Chocolate Rain," though. He's also displaying the musical common ground that's shared between a myriad of songs the general public perceives as being very different, proving pop tunes come down to attitude and style as much as they do musical composition.