Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #77 Girl Talk
The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
#77 Girl Talk
He didn't do it first, but he's a classic example of doing it best. Ever since Night Ripper - his breakthrough after a couple of glitchy, clunky DJ albums – Girl Talk's been posterized as America's DJ. Countless magazine covers, a weird ironic brand that doesn't fade, and the paradigm to which every single mashup DJ from here on out will be compared. He rose to this level not because he invented the genre but because, sample after sample, minute by minute, his juxtapositions and transitions are flawless. He makes all these clips look like they were meant for each other.
I think that at the base of the matter, Gregg understands the universal elements of music. Across soul, hip hop, rock and everything in between, a hook is a hook, a rhythm is a rhythm, a treble a treble and a bass a bass. Putting all this samples is together is no different then composing with instruments: find the right balance, let melodies play off each other and make sure your mix is spread across the frequencies. In that sense, he's no less a songwriter than some of the indie rock frontmen on this list. That he applied such deft execution to the mashup genre – previously a messy, hit-or-miss swamp (it's hard not to fall in the quicksand of gimmickry) – is what makes him a wonder. I said this in our Night Ripper review, but I'll say it again: Girl Talk made some part of me love straight pop, top 40 rap, and other music I normally denounce. The draw is the effortless merging of genres – that's the gripping novelty that gets the party started – but it endures on the strength of supreme meticulous craft. This is an artist you'll keep coming back to.