I’m not going to waste anyone’s time. You all know who these people are. I will say this: if Skrillex is responsible for the “death” of dubstep, then it wasn’t a form that was going to live very long anyway, and I can only hope he was also responsible for the death of Whatever Is Meant When People Say “The Doors” These Days (WIMWPSTDTD, which I like because it has STD right there in the name1). Or will be. See, this is all part of a five-part documentary called RE:GENERATION, whereby a bunch of DJs are going to “re-create” past styles of music. What makes this hilarious is that two of the five DJs (Pretty Lights and the inimitable Mark Ronson) already do this for their jobs2, and also that this is part of The Grammies somehow (they’re paying for it, I guess? There might actually have to be a special edition of Who the Fuck Listens to This devoted entirely to the Grammys).
While a couple of the pairings (Crystal Method and Martha Reeves, DJ Premier and Nas and the Berklee Symphony Orchestra) make sense and could sound cool, one of them sounds like a terrible idea that someone overmarketed (Pretty Lights, Ralph Stanley and Leann Rimes?), and one sounds like it will actually be respectably awesome (Mark Ronson, Mos Def, Erikah Badu, Trombone Shorty, the Dap-Kings and Zigaboo Modeliste), only one looks like a warmed-over trainwreck ready to take out the idea of listenability with it.
But before we get there, who the fuck would even want to listen to any of this? This whole thing is pitched as a documentary, which I guess is kind of cool. Everybody enjoyed It Might Get Loud, which was a similar cross-generational look at stuff, and the idea of applying that philosophy to things that used to be dance music (funk, bluegrass, older hip-hop) by having the people that made it collaborate with people who make what is now dance music is a pretty good idea. It’s also an idea that’s done to death3 , but fine. Maybe there is a market for this. Maybe this documentary seems like a great idea on paper.
So they come up with three and a half parts of a reasonable conceit (what the fuck is Leann Rimes doing here? Three and a half.), and then…Skrillex and The Doors. Now, so far we’ve got a bunch of music that people have, in fact, danced to. Happily. Hell, I’ve danced to some of those people and I never dance4. No one, ever, has danced, ever, to The Doors, ever. Even people that like The Doors don’t say “so I was cutting a rug last night, and boogieing really hard to those The Doors fellows, and let me tell you, I plum wore my best gal out.” Nobody says that. Nobody.
And that’s The Doors. Like, the version with the singer. WIMWPSTDTD isn’t even that. It’s a bunch of guys who spent five years or whatever in a band that a lot of people liked, trying desperately to make sure that people remember them enough to keep their swimming pools filled with Voss Water. They have no connection to what’s going on here.
Except they have pretty much everything in common with Skrillex: they were a big, dumb band that was basically just crowd-pleasing music that kids liked, and that became very, very much of its time5. People that were young at and around when it happened like it, people like it when they’re young, and it sort of loses what power it had as we move away from it (or as we get older). Skrillex, I’d imagine, will be in the same situation, with a marginally-dumber and/or more awesome haircut, just like lots of people who become extremely popular among sixteen year olds. It’s a model.
That said: a shared idiom does not mean for a good experience. Peanut butter and mousseline are both made by mashing things up into a paste, but I don’t recommend that you consider them a part of the same family, nor should you try to put them together. Because the point here, as with any remix project, is the sound. The context doesn’t really matter, because collaboration and/or sampling are things you do with the actual sounds created by the other musicians, not something you do with their sociocultural position.
So how does it sound?
It sounds…like Skrillex. Which is kind of the problem. If there were some more of WIMWPSTDTD in there – if it were an actual collaboration, say – then it would probably be considerably worse. So the real question is: why WIMWPSTDTD? I can’t answer that question. In the video, the three old dudes look disinterested. Poor John Densmore (probably the most musically interesting member of the Doors, and certainly the most rockin’6) was given little to do except tap at a bongo and clap. Oh, they all clap.It’s a little less bass-heavy than other Skrillex songs (and the Doors totally didn’t have a bassist! Like, whoa!), and there are periodic sections for Ray “the Piano Man” Manzarek to tinkle on his keys like a….well, like a guy in a Doors cover band, to be perfectly honest. Robby Krieger is playing a guitar in the video, and it might be the effects-drenched thing we hear that corresponds to when (if not what) he’s playing.
Other than that, it’s a Skrillex song. A kind-of-ok one. I guess. I mean, I’m not a Skrillex expert, but this seems to be in the middle of the stuff I’ve heard. It’s certainly not a Doors song. It’s got too much clapping, for starters.
1 I’m twelve.
2 also: The Crystal Method still exist. Who knew?
3 to death. While one could think that it would be interesting to hear this, let’s remember that “The Rockafeller Skank” and “Block-Rockin’ Beats” were legitimate and actual hits without brainy think-pieces surroudning them, and that Rednex existed, guys. No matter how hard you may want to deny it, Rednex existed. Also: the entire career of Beck. And Henry Flynt. And that one Moby album. Basically, ten years ago this would’ve been a good idea. Which I guess puts it at about par for the course for the Grammys. Grammies? I don’t care.
4 I have, however, been known to ride my bike un-til I get ho-ome.
5 It’s 2012. I do not have to talk about Jim Morrisson’s “poetry.”
6 I honestly thought that John Densmore was the guy that didn’t participate in this shit. Wikipedia says it’s him, though, and he looks like he does in google image searches, so I’m gonna call him John Densmore. Old guy with the bongo, if you read this, and you aren’t John Densmore, shoot me an email and I’ll correct my oversight.