Ever hear a song a think "Hey, this sounds like the vocals from this other song would fit perfectly to this music!" Neither have we. But that's not the case for the producers of the new remix project Smash-Ups on Sparrow Records. So you haven't heard Rebecca St. James' "God" and thought her vocals would fit nicely to the music of Earthsuit's "One Time"? Or how about ZOEgirl's "Dismissed" to the tune of dc Talk's "Jesus Freak"? Yeah, I'm still adjusting to that one too...
Smash-Ups is nothing short of unique in that it pits two (sometimes three) pop/rock hits against each other to form a new composition. For the opening track, the project grabs the music from Audio Adrenaline's "Get Down," tosses in a few verses from Grits's "All Fall Down" and uses the vocals from Steven Curtis Chapman's "Dive" as the song's main verses. So is it interesting? Oh yeah. Awkward? You bet. Cool? Kinda like the Twilight Zone of Christian music. Where a mix like this goes wrong is in the handling of Steven Curtis's vocals. They slow his voice down to meet "Get Down"'s tempo to the point where Steven sounds like he's losing his voice or your stereo has a glitch. Where a mix like this excels is in the following track where Newsboys' "Entertaining Angels" meets the musical backdrop of dc Talk's "Colored People." A fun mix, it's neat to hear these two classics together. Unfortunately, the completely awkward and abrasively mismatched Grits "TN Bwoys" vs. Switchfoot "Already Take Me There" just doesn't fit no matter how you slice it as they try to mix rap with a pop-punk rock rhythm. My favorite on this project is the perfectly mixed Rebecca St. James' "God" vs. Earthsuit's "One Time." It's so close and so good, you'd think it was meant to sound like this from the beginning. TobyMac's vocal arrangement for "Yours" is so amazingly altered (nothing was re-recorded for this project, all vocals were manipulated) to fit Relient K's "Pressing On" fits extremely well but the monotonous bridge before the chorus may get to some after a few listens. John Reuben's "Do Not" meets the melodic sounds of Benjamin Gate's "All Over Me" beautifully in ways that would never have crossed the average music listener's mind.
On the other side, artistic desecration takes place when ZOEgirl's vocals for "Dismissed" bounce across the classic sounds of dc Talk's "Jesus Freak." Not only do the styles ultimately clash from different trends in Christian music's history trying to meet, but the lyrical messages are just so different as well. While the tempos meet well, the guitars are dated and the vocals just sound too pasted on. The catchy rhythms of PAX217's "Tonight" bring Newsboys' "Shine" to a whole new generation of listeners as Peter Furler's vocals are slowed and made a little grittier to meet the rock of the PAX track. Poor Chapman's are abused once again as "Live Out Loud" meets Out of Eden's "River" for an otherwise bouncy and upbeat new version of the hit. Smash-Ups concludes its 10-song run with perhaps one of the oddest pair-ups as Carman's decade-old attempt to rap in "Who's In The House" awkwardly gets a redux to ZOEgirl's "Even If."
Overall, Smash-Ups is a project to behold and something every fan of these artists needs to hear. It's an enjoyable experience to hear the songs meet and often work well as one entity, but one must wonder what kind of longevity a project like this might have. So while the concept doesn't always work as well as it may have sounded in the brainstorming stages, the tracks that do succeed here are what make Smash-Ups one of the most fun new mix projects to date.- Review date: 5/17/03, written by John DiBiase
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