Girl Talk – Night Ripper

Girl Talk
Night Ripper

Girl Talk is Greg Gillis, a Pittsburgh native and apparently a “former indie-rocker” as noted by another online zine staffer who claims to “know this guy.” Apparently he used to be down with all that Elephant 6 shit, and now he’s reinvented himself as another white boy who miraculously discovered dance music as if it was some novel idea. There is seriously nothing more bogus than indie rockers that “grow up” or out of the genre only to find themselves in a world of weak adult contemporary pop (I’m looking at you Ryan Adams fans); that is unless you’re talking about the indie rockers who suddenly think mash-ups and four-on-the-floor Paul Oakenfold shit is cool. It just goes to show that if you lower your standards far enough or do enough drugs, you’ll eventually settle for anything. It’s the indie-rock equivalent of a mid-life crisis.

With Night Ripper, Gillis has set himself up as the easiest target for criticism in the history of music. So why in the world has the album been so lauded? It’s not like something of this nature has never been done before. Plunderphonics is nothing new; it’s been around since the mid-80s. The mash-up – playing two or more tracks on top of one another – has been used by DJs for a long time now. Just because you can spot Neutral Milk Hotel, Pixies, and The Boredoms in there doesn’t make it automatically awesome. It’s just a pathetic attempt at an easy target audience: nostalgic indie kids.

Night Ripper is a record that plays musical chairs, genre-hopping by doing what the word literally implies. It’s the equivalent of musical cotton candy: sugary and full of hot air. It’s the lamest game of “name that sample” EVER!!! Dude samples over 150 songs, including top-40 hits, indie rock, rap, R&B, pop, etc. – illegally mind you – and walks away with what is EASILY the most forgettable album in the history of recorded music. How is this fucking possible?

Okay…so there are a few fleeting moments where I felt that Gillis had something in chrysalis that could’ve been developed into tried and true gold. The Lil’ Wayne “Fireman” spliced with Nirvana’s “Scentless Apprentice” that morphs into a pitched-up version of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” that is “Smash Your Head” is easily the album’s highlight. The first minute or so of “Give and Go” that features Ciara’s “Get on the Dance Floor” over the top of the opening riff to Sonic Youth’s “Schizophrenia” was slightly interesting before it tapered off into a useless sample of Mike Jones on top of Seals & Crofts’ “Summer Breeze.”

Night Ripper makes me feel like someone raped my record collection with joyless abandon. Sure Gillis knows how to use Boston, Van Halen, The Breeders, and M.I.A. to his advantage. It’s just too bad that he doesn’t know the meaning of the word nuance. In the end, this is the single element separating the wheat from the chaff. In this case, instead of the articulate hand of DJ Shadow, Kid 606, or even The Avalanches, we get the equivalent of an eighth-grader still obsessed with finding the best obscene samples to pull out of the rap tracks he borrowed. One can only listen to so many samples like Ying Tang Twinz’ “Wait (The Whisper Song)” with it’s “wait ’til you see my dick, I’m gon’ beat that pussy,” and 2 Live Crew’s “face down ass up that’s the way we like to fuck,” before you wonder whether Gillis might have some real issues with the opposite gender. I wouldn’t even bring it up, but there are sooooo many of them here it’s easily on par with any Too Short album.

Maybe the point was to make the most ridiculous mash-up record of all time. Okay you win, it CAN be done! There is also this argument that has been made for the fun aspect of the record. Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s easily entertaining; it’s just that it’s also as easily boring. After the first couple of tracks, you begin to get the general idea. The record is a one-trick pony. You can only listen to someone mindlessly ram songs together for so long before it gets old, that is unless you’re a short-sighted man-child with attention deficit disorder like so many modern indie rockers. The shock value of hearing one song or two or three on top of another was quickly worn out for me. You won’t find a single tasteful use of sampling here. I would’ve loved even the slightest bit of differentiation. Unfortunately, for the duration of Night Ripper, that moment never comes. Eventually it leaves me feeling like I’d rather be forced to listen to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” on endless repeat than have to endure this piece of shit ever again.