By Josiah Martin | Staff Writer
Fans of the web series “Harry Potter Puppet Pals” and the early YouTube viral hit “Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny” will know that their creator, Neil Cicierega, has a penchant for the unique sense of humor of the YouTube community and an undeniable talent for creating content. On Jan 23, 2017, Cicierega released “Mouth Moods,” the third in a series of comedy mash-up albums that beautifully displayed these qualities. To fully understand the concept of these three albums, it is best to look at the first entry, 2014’s “Mouth Sounds.”
“Mouth Sounds” contained 17 tracks of songs mixed together in unusual or unexpected ways. For example, Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” vocal track over the closing theme from “Full House,” or the vocals to Smash Mouth’s “All Star,” a recurring track on the album, over the instrumental to John Lennon’s classic “Imagine.”
The album was met with fantastic reviews, because though many of the mash-ups were intentionally jarring or hilarious, Cicierega’s skill for understanding and manipulating the compositions of these songs shone through, making it an enjoyable listen. The same can be said for the album that followed “Mouth Silence,” but Cicierega has truly outdone both of his previous works with the most recent addition: “Mouth Moods.”
“Mouth Moods” kicks in with a strong and unforgettable opening track, “The Starting Line,” an original song created by piecing together the memorable opening lyrics to many popular songs, such as the titular “reluctantly crouched at the starting line” from Cake’s “The Distance,” and “this is the story of a girl” from Nine Days’ “Absolutely (Story of a Girl).” The fun and the energy put forth in this track never truly dies down.
Cicierega has a penchant for including songs that have a reputation for being taken a bit to seriously by their respective artists and fans. This is fairly well accomplished by the second track, which places the vocal track from “Back in Black” by AC/DC over the piano and strings from Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles.” Nowhere is this done more perfectly, however, than later in the album when he expertly drains all of the angst and rage from Linkin Park’s “In The End” by putting the vocal track over the instrumental to the Doobie Brothers’ “What A Fool Believes.”
Some of these mash-ups work indescribably well; on paper, they seem impossible, but they practically outdo the originals. For example, in “Smooth,” he puts the vocal track from Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week” on top of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” and it fits so perfectly that it almost sounds as if Barenaked Ladies intended for this to happen. It is one of the best tracks on the album. The same goes for “T.I.M.E.,” which takes the vocals from the Village People’s “YMCA” and places them effortlessly over “Time” from Hans Zimmer’s “Inception” soundtrack; the result is one of the most bone-chilling, inspiring pieces of music ever composed. It must be heard to be believed.
When Cicierega isn’t turning notoriously gritty songs into soft rock radio, he takes what many listeners would consider to be undeniably classic songs, and essentially defiles them with songs that have been overplayed to death — or have poorly aged to the point of becoming a joke. The best example happens to be the penultimate track on this album, “Mouth Pressure,” which takes “Under Pressure” by Queen and a pitch-altered vocal track from Smash Mouth’s aforementioned “All Star,” which gloriously ruins “Under Pressure” and vastly improves “All Star,” making another strong, exciting track.
The album’s only weakness is its length. A few of its 20 tracks are interludes, and some of the tracks unnecessarily run over the four minute mark. That being said, in order to appreciate the full comedic effect of this album, it is best listened to in one single sitting, each song surprising, delighting or disgusting you in order from beginning to end.
If you haven’t already, listen to this album and the two that preceded it. You will laugh, and you just may find that one of Cicierega’s monstrosities becomes your new favorite song. “Mouth Moods” is Cicierega’s best mash-up work, and hopefully not the last.