By Syd Smith
Is to meme to art? To love maybe? To embrace a cliché? To be woke? A religious experience? I’m still not sure what a meme is, or if it’s really something to be defined or worth defining. However, I thought it might be fun to talk about meme music.
I’ll hit on some classics, the Mona Lisas, Darude’s “Sandstorm” or Smash Mouth’s “All Star” and then some of the underground artists who are better off nameless. I’m talking mom-turn down-Wheel–of-Fortune-I’m-working-on-my-Soundcloud-career-here in the basement artists whose works of art will make you laugh and then gag within the first 15 seconds.
Anyways five gems of meme music was the max I could do. I had to break-up doing “research” for this article each night before bed in bite sized chunks because after about ten minutes of meme music your head starts to go a little haywire and you end up having some strange dreams. Meme dreams. Shrek dreams. But what’s new? Alright let’s do the big bois first and work our way down until it all comes together.
(Mojo’s top ten music plays)
1. I guess I should put “We Are Number One” here. Well too bad, so sad. We are going to start with one of the oldest memes in the holy book of memes, the He-Man Said Hey meme, a “mee-mee” your old man could try to enjoy. If you like living underneath rocks and have never seen the video here it is, papa bless. The original song that is tastefully dubbed over the Hanna-Barbera cartoon is “What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes; nothing like great art’s use of irony as He Man is one of the biggest blondes there is.
2. “Floral Shoppe” by Macintosh Plus. If jazz is to abstract expressionism, then I feel vaporwave is to minimalism. This is probably going to be the hippest and most serious meme out of the group, you can pay $50 to get it on vinyl after all and the ever so holy ego of Pitchfork gave it an 8.8.
Being seen by most as one of the granddaddies of vaporwave it’s only natural the album’s oversaturation helped it become a meme along with picking up some diehard fans, one fan deciding to do a cover of one of the most popular tracks off the album which you can check out here.
3. I’ve only had the chance to see Jeff Rosenstock twice in Austin, Texas, each show he ended playing on his sax wandering off into the crowd, and this is the place where I’d ideally segway into the song “Epic Sax” by JR Serpent but that’s not the type of meme rodeo we’re running here cowboys and cowgirls, you’ve been Rick Rolled, no I’m thinking of the song either Rosenstock or one of his bandmates or the venue chose to play when they took the stage. Sorry Dave Grohl but not really of course:
4. It would be unfair to talk about this weird niche genre of music without mentioning the meme master, Neil Cicierega who you might know from Potter Puppet Pals. You can listen to the 53-year-old’s meme masterpiece here. As far as meme mashups of different tracks on Soundcloud go, this is one of the best sonically put together projects. It’s a bit more digestible than other mashups but it’s still a struggle to listen to front to back and I can’t imagine producing it without acquiring schizophrenia.
5. So last and most certainly last, I’m going to throw out a grab bag of Soundcloud mashups, it doesn’t take long to figure out who these Soundcloud meme artists heroes are, Gambino, Kendrick and Death Grips being the holy trinity it seems. Donald Glover: the first two that come to mind is a bumping Stranger Things mashup.
Kenny Lamas: almost every mashup by Kendrick Lamar either uses the “m.A.A.d city” or “Swimming Pools (Drank)” beat. This one uses the great fairy fountain music from The Legend of Zelda Nintendo video game. Wii Channel music anyone? So if you enjoy controlling a dude named Zelda in a green skirt with a lot of heart this is one you’ll like.
MC Ride: speaking of video games a fellow patron has made a mashup of the Hotline Miami video game and Death Grips, the tracks being “spikes” from death grips and “Miami” by Jasper Byrne. Something about MC Rides harsh vocals over a relaxing instrumental works so well using one of the strongest principles of art, balance.
What a strange and somewhat cancerous journey this has been.