What is a Mashup Song? Are They Legal and What are the Best Songs?
Mashup songs are a fantastic way to surprise and delight your audience. When done well, it showcases your ability to work with a variety of songs at once. But what is a mashup song and, more importantly, what makes a good one?
A mashup a blend of two or more different tracks into one usually by overlaying the vocal track of one song over the instrumental track of another. You can change a lot of different parts within the songs to make a mashup including the vocal lines, melodies, rhythms and time signature.
Making mashups can be a lot of fun to listen to and to make. Have a look at our favourite mashups and find out more about how you can make some yourself.
- The Grey Album – Danger Mouse
- Collision Course – Jay Z/Linkin Park
- American Edit – Dean Gray
- The Damn. Chronic – DJ Critical Hype
- Mouth Sounds – Neil Cicierega
- Sgt Petsound’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Clayton Counts
- Night Ripper – Girl Talk
- Jaydiohead – Minty Fresh Beats
- the notorious xx – wait what
- Black Gold – Tom Caruana
What are the best mashup songs ever?
Have you ever wondered what is the best mashup song ever? Well, it is practically impossible to list the very best mashups as there are just so many out there. The possibilities are quite literally endless and new amazing creations are being produced every single day.
It is possible to list some of the most popular ones on the internet, however. This is perfect if you are in search of inspiration or want to practice singing to some of the best out there!
“Love Me Like You Do” (Ellie Goulding) x “A Thousand Miles” (Vanessa Carlton)
￼The piano in A Thousand Miles has always been incredibly iconic, coupled with the haunting romance in Love Me Like You Do and you’ve got a hit!
“Lies” (Marina and the Diamonds) x “Talking Body” (Tove Lo)
￼Marina and the Diamonds has a strong voice and great lyrics whilst Tove Lo brings some EDM to her music, if these two worked together in real life, imagine what they could create!
“Let It Be” (The Beatles) x “It Wasn’t Me” (Shaggy)
Who knew that The Beatles piano ballad would go so well with Shaggy’s hit? This is music to our ears and is not to be missed.
“All Star” (Smash Mouth) x “My Name Is” (Eminem)
￼This may sound like a recipe for disaster but somehow it really works well! This should encourage you to be creative when planning your mashup, it will make you stand out more than ever.
“Another One Bites the Dust” (Queen) x “Get Busy” (Sean Paul)
￼Sean Paul’s dancehall anthem seamlessly fits in with Queen’s old-school hit. Taking a risk can certainly be worth it.
“Timber” (Ke$ha) x “Counting Stars” (One Republic)
As you can see, there is such a wide variety of mashups out there to fit anyone’s vocal range. For your next open mic, why not try out a mashup song? The audience will love it and it will test you to your creative limits.
You don’t have to create your own mashup song from scratch. When performing open mics, you can take inspiration or even use other talented artist’s mashups to sing your heart out to!
These fantastic mashup artists have created musical masterpieces that some may argue sound even better than the originals.
Girl Talk is Gregg Michael Gillis’ stage name and he creates fantastic mashups. Some of Girl Talk’s best work is considered to be, “Need You Tonight” by INXS and, “Young’n (Holla Back)” by Fabolous. The combination of these two songs is so seamless, it’s almost as if INXS planned to be involved in a mashup one day!
DJ Earworm (Jordan Roseman) is well-known for his annual mashup called “United State of Pop”. This mashup contains the top 25 songs throughout that particular year, paying homage to the talented artists who created the hits.
A DJ who produces mashup music, Party Ben’s most popular tracks include Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” with The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” the music completely completes the vocals and if you didn’t know better, you would mistake it for the original song!
Mashup songs online
If you are looking to create your own mashups to perform, it is a good idea to use a great website, making the process easy and pain-free!
For those of you that want to save some pennies, there are plenty of free ways to create fantastic mashups. Most of us used Audacity when we were in school, however, it’s more than just putting funny voices over pre-installed tracks. Audacity is a great easy-to-use platform for your mashup creations, it’s free too which is a great bonus!
LoopLabs is another fantastic way to make music online. It’s free and can be used anytime, anywhere. You can even search what other people have created, serving as a one-stop place to get inspired and create your own.
If you are familiar with YouTube, which, let’s be honest, who isn’t? Then YouTube DJ might just be THE place for you to create your mashup masterpieces. It’s a free online music mixer app that allows you to make mashups of YouTube music videos. You can merge songs together to create your dream combo and even invite friends to collaborate with you, a creative way to embark on your mashup journey.
Home recording software is incredibly important to an upcoming artist creating mashups and it’s certainly worth the investment.
What’s the difference between a mashup song and a remix?
Let’s go into some more detail as to what defines a mashup song. The difference between a mashup song and a remix often confuses people, meaning that they can be labelled as the same thing which leads to strange combinations of tracks.
As you now know, a mashup song combines the vocals and the backing track of two or more different songs. However, a remix adds, removes or repeats sections of the same song to make it sound different from the original. Therefore, a mashup combines songs but doesn’t alter them in any way, whereas, a remix changes the original song itself.
A mashup can contain more than just two songs, a brilliant example of this is this 2016 mega mashup:
￼Note how the songs are not remixed or altered, simply put in different parts of the mashup to make one cohesive song.
These multiple song mashups are a fantastic way to showcase your vocal range and demonstrates how you are not limited to one genre of music. Mashups also inject personality into your performance, which is vital when building your personal brand.
What’s the difference between a medley and mashup song?
A mashup is an act of combining (or mashing) two songs together at the same time. This will make an entirely new and different musical composition.
The key difference between what a mashup song is and a medley is the word “simultaneous”. When you hear the term “medley” this will be a collection of songs, but where they are being performed and sung as one total composition of musical work.
How mashup songs are made
Now that you know exactly what a mashup song is, let’s go into the process of making your own. It is straight-forward, however, it’s important to think carefully about what songs to combine.
The most important thing to remember when creating a mashup is to look for songs where the vocals are better than background instrumental, or the instrumental is much better than the vocals.
Not all vocals and music will go together. For example, Corey Taylor’s vocals from Slipknot won’t exactly mix well with a classical Beethoven track, although, you never know, it’s important to get creative! A mashup completely reinvents and breathes new life into older songs, delivering something new that audiences recognize but are still surprised by.
The first step is to take the vocals from the song you want to mashup, in this case, we are going to look at Christina Aguillera’s “Genie in a Bottle”:
￼You will want to search the internet for a vocal-only version which is extremely easy to find! Having a musical ear is important to apply to your mashup, you will want to find a track that will go extremely well with the vocals. Here, we are looking at The Stokes “Hard to Explain”:
Obviously, your first mashup is unlikely to be spot-on, it’s a learning curve and takes time to perfect. Just keep playing around until you find one that fits. Once your mashup is made you will that extra confidence to perform it on stage.
How to perform a mashup
When performing a mashup, you have a variety of options, you really can be as creative as you like! Many singers choose to perform a mashup by layering vocals over the instrumental of just one song. This demonstrates a fantastic talent of being able to switch from one vocal to another without the music prompting that transition.
Other singers prefer to combine a variety of songs together by changing the instrumental along with the vocals. This creates an exciting mashup that will instantly be recognizable to the audience with each and every change.
You are free to perform your mashup however you prefer. Whether you make up your own using pre-recorded songs, make a mashup from your original songs or use a mashup from other artists, it really is a fantastic way to show off your talent.
How can song mashups help with song-writing?
Working on song mashups it can really help you see the way songwriters structure their songwriting and help with your own songwriting.
It really does open up a plethora of possibilities as a musician and shows originality. You can also consider mashing together your own song with a cover. Read on to discover some hints and tips on how to make song mashups.
If you haven’t quite built up the confidence to write and perform your own songs then song mashups are a great way to improve your songwriting but at the same time not risk an untested new song. Remember you are only as good as your song choice!
Choosing your song mashups
The first step in making song mashups is to find a track to base it on or a genre if you’re unsure of the song. It’s best to stick to mainstream or well-known tracks because song mashups can be lost on the audience if they don’t recognise the musical sections individually. After you have decided upon your first song, figure out what works with it.
This is the hard part because songs aren’t generally built to match each other however by analysing the chords used or vocal melodies it is made easier. Listen to your music collection for added inspiration.
Making song mashups flow
Good song mashups are ones that blend and flow almost seamlessly. Hopefully, it leaves people with the impression it was clever and original of the performer.
Song mashups can involve plenty of different structural elements. For example, you can lay vocal melodies of one song over the rhythm of another, introduce riffs from different songs and continue to layer it up. The following structure would work with two songs that use the same four chords.
Song mashups are all about trial and error. They are not easy to write so don’t get disheartened if it doesn’t work out the first time. It’s a great way to improve your playing, improvisation and ear. After all, it should be fun to try and test them out at some open mic nights, for example, film it, ask for feedback and analyse.
Are mashup songs legal?
One of the more commonly asked questions we hear, is are mashup songs illegal?
If you are looking to create or perform mashup songs, you might want to know where you stand legally, taking into account the copyright laws that protect the artist’s original work. As mashups transform the original work, coupling different vocals with backing music, they could be protected by fair use as free expression. However, this doesn’t mean you’re free from potential legal issues.
Mashup creators are aware that the original artists used in the mashup could question them. However, most artists thankfully embrace these creations.
David Bowie, for example, partnered with a car brand and held a contest to see which fan could create the best mashup using Bowie’s songs. The winner was offered a brand-new sports car, not a bad deal!
If you wish to create and perform mashups, you can proceed with caution by releasing your creations on small sites without licensing your work. If received well, you can look into licensing and releasing into the wider world. Often, mashup artists release their work for free and accept donations and/or paid gigs. This means you are not directly making money from the artists‘ work.
You are always free to create mashups of your own original songs too; the world of music is well and truly your oyster!
- Can you sing mashup covers at open mic nights legally?
You certainly can! You will not require a license to perform these songs, however, the venue that you are performing at will already have a license covering public performances of copyright music. Find out more about this here.
- Are there any apps to use for mash up songs?
There are a variety of DJ apps available for both iOS and Android. You can download a mix and see which ones work best for you.
- Where can I listen to other mashup songs?
- What is the most famous mashup album?
In 2004, producer Danger Mouse created the Grey Album, a mashup between The Beatles White Album and Jay-Z’s The Black Album. It was an early case of something going viral online and its profile only increased after EMI tried to get it removed from the internet. Check it out in the video above.
Now that you know what a mashup song is, let us know what your favourite mashups are and if you’ve made any yourself in the comments!