Music News: Jarod Ripley’s Genius

There’s a fire starting in the hearts and iPods of people everywhere. At 22 years-old, Welsh singer ADELE has proven herself a masterful performer and songwriter. Ballads like “Someone Like You” (where ADELE finds that her ex-lover has married and tells him that for her “it isn’t over”) require ADELE to pick up the pieces of her shattered heart off the floor, take the fragments in her hands, and hold them out and beg us to shatter them once more. She does what many of us find daunting; ADELE takes the most utterly fragile human experiences and emotions and funnels them through a soul-powered, superhuman voice, giving them strength, power and most important, a voice.  To our ears, this woman is truly fearless.

So what happens when you mash-up one of the most brilliant and mature artists, nothing less than a scholar of the heart’s beats and breaks with Pop-Princess-Gone-Tabloid-Queen Britney Spears? 117,165 views on YouTube, that’s what.

Jarod Ripley, an editor/mash-up artist who until now has received limited attention on his website and YouTube pages, has created one of the most brilliant mash-ups to date. Ripley’s past endeavors include mixing techno band Calvin Harris with the rock’n’roll of The White Stripes, and R&B star Kat Graham with Sia’s 80s rock-inspired “Clap Your Hands”. Nothing comes close to matching the popularity of his sex-kitten/soul-ballad gumbo “Rolling ‘Till the World Ends”.

At face value, Ripley takes ADELE’s heartbreak single and turns it into a club-ready dance track. But there’s more to it. Perhaps unknowingly, Ripley’s editing exposes the interdependency between the sex-kitten, paparazzi-followed Spears and quiet life, indie-songwriter ADELE.

Spears’ “Dancing ‘Til The World Ends” has yet to make it in the top 10 on the Billboard Top 100, while ADELE’s “Rolling in the Deep” has made it to number 2 (only one slot behind Katy Perry’s E.T.). In order to be the pop-master she is, Spears depends on the existence of artists like ADELE. Spears packs thousands of seats at her concerts by selling her body, sweat and half-naked back up dancers and we buy the tickets gladly. She’s all spectacle – everything a legendary pop icon should be. But there’s no room in the pop cannon for the kind of adult fragility ADELE fearlessly owns.

After watching ADELE walk the line between soft tender adjectives and booming, gospel-esque emotion, listeners are confronted with the challenge of which pop icon to stand behind. Ripley’s answer? Both.

Spears needs the number two Billboard single to boost her into the top 10, ADELE needs the spectacle and teen-bop-fans that Spears’ has claimed since 1997. While both women can stand on their own, each of their most recent singles depends on the other to give their work context.

Perhaps all that inspired to Ripley was his love for ADELE’s lyrics and his need to shake his booty, but what results is a masterful and important combination of pop chart’s extremes.