Stories Behind Some of Your Favorite Dance Songs

Just as every person has an interesting biography, every song has a noteworthy back-story.  Unfortunately, there’s not enough disk space in the ether for us to write about every song.  So we’d like to put the spotlight on some trends and a select group of songs.  Click on Return to Radio Megamix for what’s popular on dance radio.

It’s a Mashed-up World

The year 2005 is shaping up to be another milestone in the history of mash-ups.  A mash-up is often an incongruous merging of two or more songs—usually the vocals of one over the instrumental track of another, getting the biggest bang when the songs involved are familiar hits.  How is a mash-up different from just another song with a sample?  While sampling is used in the process, a mash-up’s content comprises only previously released recordings.  In other words, the creator of a mash-up doesn’t perform or compose any new music or lyrics other than deciding which songs to sample and how the parts fit together.  The goal of some mashers seems to be to deliberately engineer a Frankensong, the more bizarre the combination the better.

Splicing together different recordings has a long history.  The king of such “break-in” medleys is Dickie Goodman, who first scored a couple of hits in the 1950s as part of Buchanan & Goodman and then enjoyed a long solo career with a dozen charted singles between 1961 and 1977, including 1975’s gold-selling “Mr. Jaws.”

Radio stations have periodically created ad hoc musical mergers that are akin to today’s mash-ups.  In 1991, top 40 stations were inspired to play a song that blended “Emotions” by Mariah Carey with The Emotions’ “Best of My Love” from 1977 because of their similarities (refer to <a href="http://musicaldv.[bbss].com">Musical Deja Vu</a> for our take on sound-alikes).  Country radio stations did likewise in 1995, spinning a duet based on Alison Krauss & Union Station’s remake of “When You Say Nothing at All” and Keith Whitley’s 1988 original.

Most people believe the mash-up phenomenon originated in Britain by 2001.  However, the first modern mash-up might have been Summer Junkies’ 1996 underground club hit “I’m Gonna Luv U.”  It clearly samples Peech Boys’ “Don’t Make Me Wait” (1982) and Art of Noise’s classic instrumental “Moments in Love” (1985) with a little bit of “Break 4 Love” by Raze (1988) thrown in for good measure (and possibly others).  Assuming every note on the Original UK Version is from another source, we would have to call it a mash-up (no publishing credits listed on the CD single).

Fast-forward to 2000 when the German group Fragma added the vocals of Coco’s “I Need a Miracle” to their own instrumental “Toca Me.”  The resulting “Toca’s Miracle” became a minor top 40 hit in the U.S.  Another hybrid emerged a year later with the release of “Tracey in My Room” by EBTG vs. Soul Vision.  This track combines Everything but the Girl’s 1996 club hit “Wrong” with the Take It Back Mix of Sandy Rivera’s “Come Into My Room” from 2000.  Rivera, who also goes by the moniker D’Menace, is one-half of Soul Vision.  Placing Sterling Void’s “It’s All Right” (1987) over the unmistakable “Rock the Casbah” by The Clash (1983), PS2000’s “It’s Gonna Be Alright” became a hit in Europe and a U.S. club hit in 2001 as well.  No one called “Miracle,” “Tracey,” and “Alright” mash-ups at the time.

But when bootleg records surfaced with odd pairings of hits, sampling was going into a different direction.  Richard X (, was responsible for Girls on Top’s “Being Scrubbed” (TLC meets The Human League), “I Wanna Dance With Numbers” (Whitney Houston meets Kraftwerk), and “We Don’t Give a Damn About Your Friends” (Adina Howard meets Gary Numan).  More bootlegs followed:  “Smells Like Booty” (Destiny’s Child meets Nirvana) and “A Stroke of Genius” (Christina Aguilera meets The Strokes).  The do-it-yourself production and cheeky titles gave the burgeoning genre a novelty image.  The whole mash-up craze in Britain went mainstream in 2002 when “Freak Like Me,” a legal “remake” of “About Your Friends” produced by Richard X, became a hit for Sugababes.

Another mash-up pioneer is American Z-Trip (,, whose 2001 album, “Uneasy Listening (Against the Grain, Vol. 1),” serves up wild combinations such as Glen Campbell/Pink Floyd and the Beatles/John Williams, among others.

In the meantime, the Minogue sisters got officially mashed.  First, Kylie Minogue was paired with New Order on “Can’t Get Blue Monday out of My Head” in 2002.  Then Dannii Minogue blended with Madonna on “Don’t Wanna Lose This Groove” two years later.  Through the miracle of mash-ups, Fischerspooner and Billy Squier recorded “Everybody Wants to Emerge” in 2004:  a virtual duet between Fischerspooner’s “Emerge” from 2003 and Billy Squier’s “Everybody Wants You” from 1982.

The most prominent, unsanctioned mash-up record to date is Danger Mouse’s ( “The Grey Album,” which brazenly mixes the Beatles’ monumental “White Album” from 1968 with Jay-Z’s “The Black Album” from 2003.  Can we call this mash-up’s first concept album?  Not to be outdone by Danger Mouse, Jay-Z joined forces with Linkin Park and scored the first No. 1 mash-up album by late 2004:  “MTV Ultimate Mash-Ups Presents:  Collision Course.”  The 1986 collaboration between Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith on “Walk This Way” has come full circle.

So what makes the year 2005 a tipping point?  “Numb/Encore,” a single from the Jay-Z/Linkin Park album, became the first mash-up track to go mainstream and crack the top 20.  A bootleg titled “Boulevard of Broken Songs” also received limited airplay at top 40 radio.  “Broken Songs” is a mash-up gumbo that incorporates Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (2005), “Wonderwall” by Oasis (1996), “Writing to Reach You” by Travis (1999), and Aerosmith’s “Dream On” (1973/1976) by way of Eminem’s “Sing for the Moment” (2003).  KNHC Seattle is currently playing a Tegan & Sara/Mylo bootleg called  “Walking With a Ghost in Paris.”  Both “Broken Songs” and “Ghost in Paris” are mixed by Party Ben (,

Though not technically 100-percent mash-up, the instrumental track of a remix of Alicia Keys’ “Karma” consists almost entirely of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” from 1973.  This remix was popular at dance radio early this year.

In addition to mash-up’s growing acceptance at radio, Deep Dish ( has included on its latest album a bonus track titled “Flashing for Money,” a mash-up blending its “Flashdance” single from last year with Dire Straits’ 1985 MTV anthem “Money for Nothing.”  Mylo (, has given his blessing to a mash-up that mixes his “Drop the Pressure” with Miami Sound Machine’s “Dr. Beat” from 1984.  While “Doctor Pressure” will be released as his next single, another Mylo mash-up has surfaced, this one pairing “Drop the Pressure” with Yaz’ 1982 classic “Situation.”  It’s a mashed-up world after all.


Brief History of Mash-Ups
Time Line Milestones
1996 Summer Junkies, “I’m Gonna Luv U”
2000 First top 40 hit and top 10 club hit: Fragma, “Toca’s Miracle”
2001 EBTG vs. Soul Vision, “Tracey in My Room”
Second top 10 club hit: P*ssy 2000, “It’s Gonna Be Alright”
Girls on Top bootlegs
Z-Trip bootleg album, “Uneasy Listening (Against the Grain, Vol. 1)”
2002 More U.K. bootlegs
2003 Danger Mouse bootleg merges the Beatles’ “White Album” with Jay-Z’s “The Black Album”
2004 First No. 1 album: Jay-Z/Linkin Park, “MTV Ultimate Mash-Ups Presents: Collision Course”
2005 Second top 40 hit: Jay-Z/Linkin Park, “Numb/Encore”
More mash-ups played on top 40 radio stations
2006 Third top 10 club hit: Blondie vs. The Doors, “Rapture Riders”
First top 10 dance hit: Mylo vs. Miami Sound Machine, “Doctor Pressure”
Second top 10 dance hit: David Guetta vs. The Egg, “Love Don’t Let Me Go (Walking Away)”


For more information on the latest mash-ups, check out these Web sites:

  • CultureDeluxe (
  • Get Your Bootleg On (

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