The new double disc electronica compilation 50,000,000 DJs Can’t Be Wrong begs the question: wrong about what?
The title and the arrangement of tracks appear to suggest that 50,000,000 DJs, if polled, would definitely love this music. Meanwhile, there is no evidence of such a survey ever taking place, and only 24 DJs are featured on the album. Yet despite the enigmatic title, the album is a fairly well-constructed dance compilation that seamlessly blends the music of major artists with that of underground acts
There is an endless parade of such big-name talent as Fatboy Slim, Massive Attack, Moby and The Chemical Brothers. Fatboy makes a number of formulaic appearances on this compilation. He apparently dug deep into the bag of You’ve Come a Long Way Baby rejects and provides an original from way back in 1998 called “Sho Nuff.” His other appearances are all remixes redone with his signature big-beat style.
50,000,000 DJs, produced by Tom Overby, has an overwhelmingly big-beat feel to it, which may explain Fatboy’s dominating presence on the disc. But Fatboy doesn’t disappoint with a big-beat rendition of Underworld’s “King of Snake” and his already familiar mix of The Beastie Boys’ “Body Movin’.”
Massive Attack also contributes an oldie, “RisingSon (otherside)” from 1997. Although the song is four years old, it’s timeless, and it is definitely the sexiest track on the album.
Moby’s “Natural Blues” gets a makeover from Mike D. It’s interesting but inferior to the original. There is something very quiet and surreal about that song which doesn’t really lend itself to a dance mix. But, points for trying.
The album is put out by Redline Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Best Buy Corp. So guess which media mega store chain is prominently featuring the release of the new disc?
This proliferation of electronica into the musical mainstream is nothing new. Spike Jonze directed a Fatboy Slim video for MTV and Moby has appeared on seemingly every movie soundtrack over the last few years. But Fatboy Slim’s latest release, Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars, was a terribly disappointing follow-up to his brilliant You’ve Come a Long Way Baby album, and it’s been two years since Moby’s spectacular Play with nothing but those soundtrack appearances since. All of this begs yet another question: is electronica dying?
While radio play is down, the hit soundtrack for this summer’s “Swordfish” was a solid dance/house/trance mix by Paul Oakenfield. However, it is important to note that on this brand new electronica album there’s not a single track made after the year 2000. Furthermore, the majority of the songs are dated in the mid- and late-1990s.
The more famous artists will undoubtedly serve as the major draw for the disc, but they have all contributed old, familiar songs. A better title for the compilation would be Big Beat Non-Hit’s of the ’90s – Rehashed! Avid fans of electronica will likely find that they own most of this material in their collections already.
But there are a few somewhat obscure artists who contribute some almost fresh grooves. By obscure artists I mean those not featured on MTV, action movie soundtracks or car commercials. A standout track is Monkey Mafia’s “Blow the Whole Joint Up,” which guarantees to instantly transform your living room into a pulsating discotheque.
50,000,000 DJs is really best for the electronica “newbie,” as it provides an overview of headliners and a healthy dose of underground sound.
Those who were paying attention during electronica’s heyday half a decade ago will find this album familiar and predictable.
Overall, this compilation is a smoothly fused, high-energy party album. There are only a few moments where the pace slows down long enough to let living-room ravers breathe. The album is subtitled Volume One: Mixed Up Beats, which alludes to the fact that there will be a volume No. 2 coming our way. I think that one crisply packaged, well-mixed, recycled rejects of the mid-’90s compilation is enough.