If you’re a millennial, try to search through your memories of high school or college for the source of the two blurry shots from music videos set in living rooms you see above. Are you looking at an image of… Jason Mraz and Chingy? Jack Johnson and Mims? James Blunt and Hurricane Chris?
If you answered “Tom Higgenson of Plain White T’s and J-Kwon”—congratulations! You are correct, and your prize is a website you will probably love: The Magic iPod, featuring quasi-customizable mashups featuring “Tipsy,” “Hey There Delilah,” “Ocean Avenue,” “In Da Club,” “Sugar, We’re Going Down,” and a bunch of other tunes you first heard on TRL or in the background on Laguna Beach. The site, first spotted by Pigeons & Planes, features two columns–one rap, one rock–and lets you drag one song title on top of another to hear what they sound like smashed together. The format makes it seem like the mashups are being generated in real time, but given how quickly they load, and the fact that each song can only be paired with a limited selection of others, makes it likely that whoever’s behind The Magic iPod manually produced them all in advance.
Sleight of hand aside, the site is still a lot of fun. Every mashup that’s available will either induce gagging or conjure pleasant feelings of nostalgia, depending on your disposition (most may lead to both). Below, we’ve collected a few of the most garish and uncomfortable combinations we’ve found after a few rounds playing DJ.
These are two of the greatest drunken singalongs of our era, but you don’t benefit from hearing both at the same time any more than you would from mixing, say, Zima and Hpnotiq. Nelly’s melodic flow means he can’t be dropped willy-nilly into any rock song with a similar tempo and still sound OK. The “Complicated” chord progression works for him sometimes, but at others it makes him sound like he was dropped on a foreign planet, just trying to find his way back to St. Louis.
Tom DeLonge and Eminem meet in a showdown for the ages of white men with nasal voices who’ve written songs about sexual encounters involving dogs. Travis Barker’s hip-hop-inspired drums on “Miss You” make for a decent enough beat, and there’s something stupidly appealing about DeLonge going full emo while Eminem embraces his goofy side. Don’t waste your time on me, guys–you’re already just voices inside my ‘yead.
It sounds like a perverse challenge: How anodyne does the beat behind a Missy Elliott classic have to be in order to completely drain it of its charm and energy? The boys of The Fray have a cable car they’d like you to try, but see if you can get to the end of the ride without jumping out first.
John Frusciante’s sightly twangy riff isn’t so different from the sort of thing Bubba used to rhyme over back in his country-rap days, meaning the mashup gives you a taste of the way “Ms. New Booty” might have sounded had Sparxxx released it just a few years earlier. If you’re still spinning Deliverance a decade and a half after it came out, don’t be ashamed–you might actually like it.
It’s hard to imagine any rap song sounding good against the drumless and limp “Delilah,” and “Tipsy,” with its bootleg “Grindin'” beat, suffers especially for the lack of rhythm. All is not lost, however: J-Kwon’s raunchy come-ons–“Baby girl ass jiggle like she want more, like she a groupie and I ain’t even on tour”–are extra hilarious when matched up against the practically asexual yearning of the Plain White T’s. Ohhh, it’s what you do to me.
As a final bonus, here’s a mashup that’s actually works kind of perfectly. The original “99 Problems” beat is built on bludgeoning guitar power chords, just like “Bring Me to Life.” The Jay Z/Linkin Park mashup record has aged better than any self-respecting music fan wants to admit. This is basically just a bonus track to Collision Course, with one nu-metal singer’s mewling swapped in for another’s. Play it loud and rock out for a few minutes–just not loud enough that your coworkers can hear what you’re listening to.