DJ EarwormSometime back in October, I found myself at one of the many school sponsored events that I typically avoid. It was called Casino Night. I wasn’t particularly in the mood, to be honest; relationship problems had me wanting to spend the evening alone in my dorm. Somehow, I ended up there with a few friends to play poker and drink free sparkling grape juice (I’m only 19; alcohol isn’t readily available yet). Thanks to a friend of mine, I put all my bad feelings aside and enjoyed the night in the its fullest, even getting out on the dance floor for a few songs. I didn’t know it at the time, but that night of dancing lead to one of my biggest musical developments of the year. You see, as is expected, a lot of pop music was played. Instead of being the jaded music hipster I normally would be, I embraced the songs and found myself really enjoying them. You see, pop music has this great unifying power to it that a lot of other genres just don’t have; they’re too divisive. I still love Kid A and all that shit, but if it wasn’t for that dance, I would’ve never been able to say I enjoy Party in the U.S.A., at least without an ironic grin on my face. Music doesn’t always have to be dense, deep, and divisive; sometimes, you just want to dance.

That’s where DJ Earworm comes in. For the past two years straight, he’s released a “United State of Pop” mixtape where he uses his considerable skill as a mashup artist to combine the year’s top hits into one sugary sweet, four-minute monster. This year is no exception. It’s entitled “Blame it on the Pop,” a forgivably puntastic name. At nearly five minutes, every major player of 2009’s KISS FM rotations is represented; this may be the only song we’ll ever hear that features both Kanye West and Taylor Swift. The result is something like Girl Talk, only decidedly less scatterbrained (DJ Earworm bases the entire song around The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling,” whereas Girl Talk squeezes so many songs, decades, and genres into each song, it’s hard to tell whether or not each piece has any basis at all).

In that sense, it is a safe mix, not quite measuring up to the other mashup heavyweights, Danger Mouse and the aforementioned Girl Talk. Then again, neither of those artists really strive for what DJ Earworm attempts with these United State of Pop mashups; he’s created a solid, nostalgic look at what pop radio has done in 2009. It reinvented itself, seemingly with the vision of the decade’s looming end that is much more positive than the one indie rock has suggested. We need that every now and then.

-Dion, but Tim recommended it.