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My 15 (+1) Favorite Songs of 2009: 14. ComaR, “I Want You D.A.N.C.E.” (2008).

14. ComaR, “I Want You D.A.N.C.E.”

Official website.
– From the Best of Bootie 2008 compilation (free download from bootieusa.com)

Bad mashups are probably pretty easy to do: place a crowd-pleasing chorus over a familiar riff, add more than a dash of incongruity for effect. But good mashups, like good cover versions, aren’t just about beatmatching (though when done right, like marrying Timbaland’s stuttery production for Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On” to the rockabilly rhythms of George Michael’s “Faith”, the result can be surprisingly inventive). The true test is how the mashed songs play off each other’s respective histories and cultural connotations and perhaps even illuminate each other through musical recontextualization. (In this respect, it’s far easier to do bad cover versions – think of all the superfluous bossanova and lounge music produced in the last decade, lazily done by slowing the tempo a notch.)

This track by the Parisian DJ named ComaR vaulted to the top of my list early this year with what might be one of the best song mashups ever — two dance hits, about a quarter-century apart. “I Want You D.A.N.C.E.” doesn’t quite pass the test I mention above, but I’ll be damned if they didn’t sound tailor-made for each other.

In retrospect, the two are obvious choices; “D.A.N.C.E.” is a warped tribute of sorts to Michael Jackson, after all. ComaR strips all the spluttery trebly funk from Justice’s original and “returns”, as it were, “D.A.N.C.E.” from Paris to Motown and to RnB roots it never had before, with that children’s choir now an unironic echo of the kids who performed the older song.

The rest of the list so far:

15. Michael Jackson, “Happy” (1973)
16. Wonder Girls, “Nobody” (2008)

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