‘They’ say that art comes in various guises, right?
Sometimes the lines that separate art from…well, everything else, get a little blurry. A movie was released earlier this year called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (based on the book of the same name). What’s remarkable about the material is that more than half is directly from the original Austen classic, edited to insert references to the walking dead, martial arts and horrific violence. At which point could such a work be considered plagiarism? Does the effort expended to make the existing narrative work convincingly with the added threat of the undead allow the novel or film to stand on its own artistic merits?
The answer, undoubtedly, is subjective.
Music is another endeavour that is difficult to draw distinct lines in. When a beloved rock classic is covered by a local pub band, how artistic can their expression be? When an R & B group sample a widely recognisable beat or riff to accentuate their latest release, how close does that become to being derivative? Again, certainly this is all subjective.
Perhaps its worth considering alternative expressions of art and music on their own terms. Such as the mash-up, a musical fusion that gives rise to numerous, fascinating pieces of work that, when done by a clearly gifted, hard-working and almost inevitably anonymous creator (or mixer) result in some real moments of genius.
Such is the Lullaby for Gorillaz:
An overwhelming marriage of melancholy, the nameless DJ has brought together two of the most perfectly matched songs that might never have been considered in the same playlist. ‘Tomorrow Comes Today’ meets ‘Lullaby’ in a haunting tone that, on first hearing, sounds like they were always intended to be played together. This mash-up accomplishes what any such piece of art should: it causes the listener to appreciate the elements that have come together – meaning that whatever the disposition toward either group, an all new love for both Gorillaz and The Cure may well result.