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Audio Adrenaline
The Benjamin Gate
Steven Curtis Chapman
dc Talk
Out of Eden
Relient K
John Reuben
Rebecca St. James

Smash-Ups - Click to view! SMASH-UPS (2003)
Seems the record companies are genuinely scared over this downloading thing. First came sites like Downloaditfirst.com and pressplay.com which sought to discourage illegal downloading via programs like Kazaa and Morpehus. Then came the ugly ad campaigns ("It really is stealing, you guys. Britney Spears says it's stealing, so it must be true"). Now, in what seems like a rather desperate attempt toward the same end, comes Smash-Ups, a Sparrow Records-approved stab at making money off of a craze that started in the underground: mixing the instrumentals from one hit song with the vocals from another, thus making something "new." Not a bad idea from a conceptual standpoint, but a horrible one from a musical point of view. Here's why.

Most Artists On This Album Can't Sing
They do a good job of covering it up with loud instrumental tracks and back-up vocalists, but when taken on their own, the vocal tracks from most of the artists on Smash-Ups sound horrible. The only vocalists who come off sounding respectable on this album are Coffee and Bonafide from Grits—mainly because they're rappers and don't sing at all.

Square Pegs Don't Fit In Round Holes
The instrumentals from dc Talk's "Colored People" were made with Toby, Mike and Kevin's singing in mind. Placing Peter Furler's warbling from "Entertaining Angels" inside that framework goes together like Ben and J. Lo after the Gigli premiere. The tempos from the two songs are similar, but different enough to ensure that Furler's vocal climaxes don't coincide with those of the instrumentals. The result, needless to say, is sonically unpleasant.

Two Great Songs Mashed Together Does Not a Better Song Make
"Jesus Freak" and "Live Out Loud" are classics that deserved to be left alone. Seeing them ripped apart and mushed together with ZOEgirl and Out of Eden songs just ain't right. It's like listening to Madonna cover "American Pie." Some ideas deserve to be left in label brainstorming sessions. Smash-Ups is one of them.

The Same Goes For Two Bad Songs
To be fair, ZOEgirl's "Even If" wasn't that bad, but it wasn't hall of fame material either. And when paired with Carman's "Who's In the House" (which really is that bad), it sounds horrible. Sparrow's aim seems to have been to breathe new life into the latter with something fresh and new, but it simply doesn't work. The same goes for the Rebecca St. James's "God" vs. Earthsuit's "One Time."

In sum? Sparrow is marketing Smash-Ups as being "like something you've never heard before." That, of course, isn't true. The only reason the album exists is that you've heard stuff like it before and can get it for free. At best, Smash-Ups is a neat, gimmicky album that has some novelty value and can even grow on you after two or three listens. But because the vocal tracks sound out of key, because most of the songs on the album are bad matches, and because of a flawed philosophy, Smash-Ups deserves to be smashed up.
- Ben Forrest
October 2003

The official home of mega-label Sparrow has hardly any info on stuff, but this is the only place anyone cares about Smash-Ups.

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