Top 5 DJ Earworm Mashups
It’s that time of year again, when Spotify Wrapped leaves us wondering why we had Olivia Rodrigo on repeat for all those weeks and gives us a pat on the back for being ‘that’ artist’s top fan. But it wasn’t always like that.
Since 2007, the end of the year has been marked by another musical occasion: DJ Earworm’s “United States of Pop” series. What began as a simple mashup of the year’s top 25 songs has become a tradition spanning more than a decade. Somehow, they all seem to perfectly capture what it meant to live in America at the time.
“Every song that hits it big, I’m thinking, ‘What does this mean? What does this represent, in terms of its lyrical themes and musically?” He told Billboard in 2013.
Whether or not DJ Earworm realizes it, he has created a running soundtrack to the lives of a generation and blends otherwise unrelated songs into a cohesive storyline. From tales of destruction to entering a “new age,” here are 5 of DJ Earworm’s best “United States of Pop” mashups.
Something to Believe In (2020)
As with most of DJ Earworm’s songs, the quality of content seems to grow better with time. That being said, the 2020 mashup “Something to Believe In” somehow captured what that tumultuous year was like perfectly. Between the COVID pandemic, capitol riots, aftermath of the election, and more, 2020 was a year of faith - both losing it and learning to live with it again. The mashup saw the return of artists like The Weeknd (whose song, “Blinding Lights,” served as the baseline), Harry Styles (who had two featured singles) and Lady Gaga (who first appeared in the 2009 mashup and every year since). “Something to Believe In” also ushered in an age of new artists bound to define the years to come: BTS, Doja Cat, Jack Harlow. While this may not have been DJ Earworm’s best work, it certainly reminds us of a year in lockdown, TikTok audio overload, and a general sense of anxiety that can only be combatted through some form of faith.
Don’t Stop the Pop (2010)
When I think of 2010, I’m reminded of the songs played on the radio during car rides, awkward school dances, and lyrics that didn’t need to have deeper meaning. “Don’t Stop the Pop” is exactly that, a mashup of songs that are light and simple. We got songs like “Hey, Soul Sister,” “Tik Tok,” and “Dynamite.” That being said, there were some heavy tracks featured in DJ Earworm’s mashup for this year. It’s hard to imagine that “Empire State of Mind” was only released in 2010. It appears in pop culture as a timeless track for the ages. But what are now classics were once fresh singles waiting to be consumed by fans. Same could be said with Eminem’s “Not Afraid,” as the rapper has been in the music scene since the 1990s. But in blending the individual songs together, DJ Earworm captured the essence of trending music: no two genres can reign supreme in a nation of a million lived experiences.
World Go Boom (2011)
If the 2013 mashup “Living the Fantasy” represented a new age yet to come, then “World Go Boom” signified the end of what was. The 2011 mashup released one year before the supposed end of the world (the whole Mayan calendar incident seems so far away at this point). Featuring songs like “Grenade,” “Pumped Up Kicks,” and “Till The World Ends,” the mashup’s title almost becomes inherent. “Watch me dance until the world goes boom,” a lyric from the song says. From “Firework” to “Super Bass,” it’s incredible how many top tracks from this year featured messages of destruction. But DJ Earworm captures pop as it was listened to across the United States, and apparently people from that time craved such themes.
Viva La Pop (2008)
Set to Coldplay’s 2008 classic hit “Viva La Pop,” DJ Earworm’s 2008 mashup is the perfect time capsule of youth. That single in itself describes rapid change within society, as it's a famous retelling of the French revolution through the eyes of a dead king. Barack Obama became the first Black president of the United States, the stock market faced the greatest crash since the Great Depression, and the Iphone was some new technology of the future making its way into back pockets everywhere. Each historical moment ushered in an era of rebellion and youth, and the top songs that year seemed to prove it. There were songs of passion (“Touch My Body,” “I Kissed a Girl,” “Lollipop,” “Sexy Can I”). But also lyrics from powerful women after years of mistreatment (“No One,” Love Song,” “No Air”). Change was in the air and DJ Earworm only helped to make that apparent.
Blame It on the Pop (2009)
Sure, “Blame it on the Pop” featured lines about the “sky falling down,” but unlike “World Go Boom” the message was much more inspiring. 2009 was a year of growth in the nation, Obama had been elected and the country was still reeling from the 2008 financial collapse. So what was the response? According to DJ Earworm, “Just get back up when you’re tumbling down.” But what brings this mashup to number one is the addicting bridge:
"Blame it on the pop, blame it on the dance
Blame it on the rock and roll, blame it on the rumba
So in sync with the symphonic soul
I like that pop, I like that bass
I like them rockin' electronic club beats
Blame it on the hip-hop music with the future flow"
When it comes to pop, anything goes (so long as it tops the charts and gets the collective moving). 2009 also introduced us to new artists (Miley Cyrus, Drake) who went on to dominate the music scene. But before the decade could end, we saw the return of the biggest artists of the 2000s (Beyonce, The Black Eyed Peas). Here’s to DJ Earworm’s expert manipulation of pop, rock and roll, rumba, club beats, and hip-hop for over a decade. Can’t wait to see what the 2021 mashup brings.