Girl Talk—aka Pittsburgh biomedical engineer Gregg Gillis—elevated the concept of the mash-up to an art form on 2006’s Night Ripper. An album-length game of Name that Tune, Ripper found Gillis layering new and old hip-hop jams over snippets of classic rock, new wave and ’90s alt-rock, spawning an obsessive Wikipedia page identifying every song included, down to the second.
The trainspotting continues on Girl Talk’s new album, Feed the Animals, currently only available digitally from illegalart.net (for free, although paying nets you higher-quality files and a pre-order for a CD). “Give Me a Beat” layers the chorus of Britney Spears’ “Gimme More” over Air’s “Sexy Boy,” while “No Pause” finds Missy Elliott’s “Work It” over Nu Shooz’s ’80s disco squiggle “I Can’t Wait.” “Still Here” is even better: Blackstreet’s ’90s hip-hop classic “No Diggity” appears over the drum ’n bass part of Radiohead’s “15 Step,” while the song culminates in a quick-cut pastiche of Fergie over Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose” and dashes of Salt-n-Pepa, Beck and the Beastie Boys.
Bizarrely, though, Animals feels somewhat passé. Perhaps the mess of homemade mash-ups that appeared post-Ripper diluted Girl Talk’s originality, or maybe the album’s reliance on clichés—his use of Journey’s “Faithfully” to end the album is particularly egregious—and faddish hip-hop (Soulja Boy, Lil Mama, Huey) overdoes it on ironic kitsch. In the end, Animals is perfect to throw on in the background of a dance party. It just doesn’t leave much of an impression for the ride home.
The bottom line***