Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Neil Cicierega's new mash-up odyssey, Mouth Dreams, is so stupid, and so good

Original photos (clockwise from upper left: An Ewok (Michael Buckner/Getty Images), a Fred Durst (KMazur/WireImage/Getty Images), a Seinfeld (Bob Riha Jr/WireImage/Getty Images), and a Peter Gabriel (Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Original photos (clockwise from upper left: An Ewok (Michael Buckner/Getty Images), a Fred Durst (KMazur/WireImage/Getty Images), a Seinfeld (Bob Riha Jr/WireImage/Getty Images), and a Peter Gabriel (Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Illustration: The A.V. Club

It’s been a good time for recurring Actual Good Internet Content lately; fresh off the latest arrival of September 21, we’ve just received the latest installment of Neil Cicierega’s Mouth series of mash-up albums, the comedian’s long-running project to create the same effect on the human brain that you usually see when someone reads the wrong book in a Lovecraft novel, except via elaborately sequenced samples from Smash Mouth albums, instead. Cicierega released Mouth Dreams—the follow-up to Mouth Sounds, Mouth Silence, and Mouth Moods—yesterday, and the internet has spent the last 24 hours processing everything that happens in the hour-plus release, from shockingly listenable mash-ups of Talking Heads and MC Hammer, The Pixies and Fountains Of Wayne, and Aerosmith and Foo Fighters, to a full-on Rickroll, to the moment in the album’s extro when “All Star” finally rears its inevitable, more-sinister-than-ever head.

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For the sake of our own sanity, if nothing else, we wanted to take a minute to dig into the most wonderfully dumb song on the entire album—although technically it’s two songs, since tracks 13 and 14, “Fredhammer” and “Limp Wicket,” both share a single unifying sound: Limp Bizkit’s ode to heartbreak, “Nookie”. Durst et al.’s musical handiwork is interpreted through two different lenses (starting at 28:47 if you’re listening to the full SoundCloud upload of the album, rather than downloading the tracks from Cicierega’s web site): First, via Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer,” and then through the “Ewok Celebration Song” from The Return Of The Jedi. (Yes, as in “Yub Nub!”)

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Together, these two tracks cover so much of what makes Cicierega so great, from the unexpected sample choices, to the step-stuttering repetition of lyrics, to the moment when you realize he’s snuck the Seinfeld baseline into the middle of the song. There’s also the fact that the whole thing works irritatingly well, from Durst rapping over the “Sledgehammer” horns, to the undeniably triumphant feel of the “Yub nubs” kicking in.

Tragically, we find ourselves unable to track down two specific moments from the songs—thus rendering our full understanding of Mouth Sounds’ genius hideously incomplete. First, there’s the yell right at the start of “Fredhammer,” which doesn’t appear to be the seem “Nookie” “Hey!” that gets repeated multiple times later. And the second is the rap break in “Limp Wicket,” which doesn’t seem to be in English at all (except for the names of the Star Wars characters that are sprinkled in, which are only sort of English by association). Still, Mouth Dreams is kind of like pornography in that way: We don’t have to understand every single moment to know what it is we like.

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Update: Thank you to the multiple commenters who pointed out that the Star Wars rap sample comes from this 1983 version of the “Ewok Celebration” song, from Meco. (Who also created the famed/infamous “space disco” version of the original Star Wars theme, briefly the most popular song on the planet in 1977.) Our journey toward the dark side of our own brains now feels one step closer to completion.

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