One has to wonder if Microsoft knew what type of time-sucking monster they had created upon releasing Songsmith. An extension of the MySong project, the program allows even the musically inept to formulate a song and gives skilled players what the company calls an “intelligent scratchpad” upon which they can jot down bits of melody by generating music to match their vocals. But if there's one thing we've learned from the glut of remixing software that's appeared in recent years, it's that writing our own songs is nowhere near as fun as turning an existing piece into something barely recognizable. In the few months since Songsmith launched, YouTube has been inundated with answers for those who dared ask the questions what if Gwen Stefani sang gospel and how would “Creep” sound in a reggae jam session.
After weeks of clicking through videos, we put together this list of five must-listen Songsmith mash-ups. Think we need to hear something else? Leave your recommendations in the comment section.
Quite possibly the best piece of Metallica unleashed since …And Justice For All, “Enter Songsmith” presents an alternate history where James Hetfield fronted Depeche Mode in the darkest reaches of the early 1980s. Listen to this in its entirety, the middle eight is downright creepy. For a cheekier take on Metallica, check out the Songsmith mix of “Battery.”
Classic Hits by Microsoft Songsmith: “Wonderwall” by Oasis
There is a candy raver lurking inside every one of us, a neon demon that wants nothing more than to dance to happy hardcore all night long. Even the Gallagher brothers can't resist the allure of the glow-stick underworld, don't let the Beatles obsession and surly interviews fool you.
Classic Hits by Microsoft Songsmith: “Long Train Runnin'” by the Doobie Bros.
YouTube user azz100c has become the most prolific Songsmith remixer, with a channel full of consistently entertaining clips. There isn't anything terribly unexpected about this mix “Long Train Runnin'”, but the light disco groove highlights the Yacht Rock qualities of the song.
Queen vs. Songsmith “We Will Rock You”
Layering Queen over a salsa beat that sounds irritatingly similar to the theme from Sex and the City is wrong in theory. But, the handclaps sync up so nicely to the new sound that it's hard not to wonder if the arena rock legends didn't mean to do that.
“Take on Songsmith”
Songsmith has the power to transform rockers into ravers and pop crooners into folk balladeers. Synthpop, however, remains largely unchanged by the program. Take this version of a-ha's lone US hit as an example. Stripped of its easily recognizable synthline, “Take on Me” in its Songsmith version sounds as though it stemmed from one of the band's earliest recording sessions. Maybe it's the best example of the software's intended purpose, to give you the power to cut the demo that could lead your big international hit. Or, maybe not.