Byterock’s Greatest Hits

The Politics of Napping


In Inside.com's July note on Slim Spears hybrids, they index the phenomenon without making much of a point besides how the songs are "ironic" and "meta." Another person hitting the Alanis bong. The pseudo-critical term they wanted was "self-reflexive"; recombined and rearranged, the songs often seem to be talking about themselves and their stars, commenting on the vertiginous whorl of pop culture from the inside, where, for example, Marshall Mathers, Eminem, and Slim Shady all exist at the same level—digits that we can push around.

There's something going on here, and it's not just about smirky chuckles. Giving the game away is the sweetly awkward "Nsync vs Britney Spears -Oops It's Gonna Be Me -Remix," in which our auteur home-cooks a herky-jerky he said/she said. This is merely a dorky game unless you, like any good ET watcher, know that Ms. Spears and 'N Sync stud Justin Timberlake are rumored to be engaged. The hybrid isn't much of a new song; instead, it's a celebrity sex fantasy made from found materials. Creepy? Kinda sweet, actually. And, finally, Britney et al.'s demented game of sexual come-ons and plausible deniability collapses into the joke it is.

Beyond the MP3s of Tori obscurities and that song from Coyote Ugly lives the world of home-cooked hybrids called byterock.
illustration: Shawn Barber
Beyond the MP3s of Tori obscurities and that song from Coyote Ugly lives the world of home-cooked hybrids called byterock.

If Sckizo and DJ Low are delivering tracks as fresh as any hip-hop from the no-samples-cleared era—like, making art—the other end of byterock is up to something just as substantial: converting the stars of Jive and Interscope into rock'n'roll Ken dolls, and Barbies too. Music that spends millions treating you like a toy is suddenly itself the field of play. And even if that's hilarious, it's no joke—returning not free stuff but free play to the pop audience might in the end be Napster's greatest hit. Maybe even a revoltin' development.

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