Girl Talk is one dude, named Gregg Gillis. He started experimenting with Mash-Ups and digital sampling whilst studying engineering in Pittsburgh. I bet he never got many chicks, at least until he started DJing. On choosing his alias, Gillis said:
"I wanted to pick a name that they would be embarrassed to play with. You know Girl Talk sounded exactly the opposite of a man playing a laptop, so that's what I chose."
The album we're looking at today is his 4th release, 'Feed The Animals', released in 2008. This album was released via his record label, Illegal Art, and fans could name their price, like Radiohead did.
The New York Times called Gillis' work "a lawsuit waiting to happen", as most of the samples he uses are unauthorised. Gillis cites "fair use" as his defence. He's a DJ, after all.
I've checked out all of Girl Talk's albums. The reason I have focused on his 4th release is simple. In my opinion, it took 4 LPs to become listenable. Previous releases have been hard on the ears, very glitch, like digitally tuning a radio and hearing tiny snippets of a million different songs. Not for me.
But on Feed The Animals, and also 2010 release 'All Day', he has it down. The guy is 1 year older than me, and I hate him for the talent he has.
I'm unsure where to start on reviewing what was recorded as one long Mash-Up to be honest. (It is split into individual tracks though).
Each track literally contains over a dozen samples. Gillis has admitted to being "a Pop Music enthusiast". His work is instantly recognisable, predictable and unpredictable at the same time, crowd pleasing and genre hopping. Where else would Avril Lavigne's 'Girlfriend' sit next to 'Big Pimpin' by Jay-Z? Gillis seems to like Jay-Z incidentally. This isn't the only snippet used.
Girl Talk has a habit of making songs you'd never choose to listen to not just bearable, but enjoyable. There's a nice bit where Lil Wayne (or someone) is fused with Sinead O'Connor's 'Nothing Compares 2 U'. Salt N Pepa's 'Push It' meets 'Lithium' by Nirvana. That 'Umbrella' song by Rihanna melts into 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. Cheap Trick into Run DMC. An awesome Eminem sample (from 'Smack That') on my personal favourite track 'No Pause',
Listen to this album. Admire the talent. It's filled with wow moments, where a song you've not heard forever will suddenly pop up, or maybe a guilty pleasure (Britney Spears' 'Gimme More' mixed with 'Sexy Boy' by Air).
10/10: This is proof that there is a god.
I'll stop now, and give you the good news. This album, and the others are available free (or you could be nice and donate) on the Illegal Art website, here.
You can listen to 'Feed The Animals' on Spotify here.
A list of all the sampled tracks used in Girl Talk's work can be found here.