The non-music media loves to write about mash-ups, because it allows them to talk about the niche concern of pop music without much discussing music at all. Because mash-up artists use existing songs, journalists trade the difficulty of understanding new artists for reliable classics. They can talk about all the non-musical aspects of music—MP3s, piracy, copyright, major labels, downloading, iPods, etc—and they don’t look like the kind of old fuddy-duddies who champion bands that sound like the bands they themselves loved when they were young, such as Dr. Dog and Wilco.
It’s understandable why Greg Gillis would play into all of this, and it’s hard to begrudge anyone making a living off music these days, but it can make the music harder to hear. Still, a lot of people say this album is great, and while I feel like Night Ripper was much better, who am I to argue with mass appeal? For better or worse, Gillis was one of the biggest forces in music this year.