Technology: Time For Your Mashup?

Unless you're a geek, obsessed with DJs or under the age of 35, chances are you've never heard the word "mashup." The term was coined in 2001 after DJ Freelance Hellraiser took the vocal track from pop songstress Christina Aguilera's single "Genie in a Bottle," and recorded it over the instrumentals from "Hard to Explain" by the Strokes, a New York City rock group. Sounds strange, but the end result, titled "A Stroke of Genius," proved as tasty to the pop-music cognoscenti as a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.

Hellraiser's trick spawned a series of imitators, including what is probably the best-known mashup to date, "The Grey Album," which took the vocals from Jay-Z's "The Black Album" and placed them over the Beatles' "White Album." The concept of mashups has extended to video, like the mock trailer for "Brokeback Squadron," which reconfigures the '80s military flick "Top Gun" as a romance between Tom Cruise's and Val Kilmer's characters. It even encompasses Web software, as in the hundreds of mashups that use Google Maps to create search services ranging from pubs in London to scuba-diving sites around the world. Here are some of tip sheet's favorites:

MUSIC: Because it would be expensive for most DJs to pay the clearance fees to the artists they sample, most mashups are unauthorized and thus impossible to find in stores. You'll have to turn to file-sharing services like LimeWire and BitTorrent, so proceed at your own peril. We've enjoyed Bobb Deep (Mobb Deep vocals over Bob Marley beats), the Beastles (Beastie Boys on top of the Beatles) and Blue Eyes Meets Bed Stuy (Notorious B.I.G. atop Frank Sinatra). Two masters of the genre, Z-Trip ( ) and Neil Armstrong ( 5thplatoon. com ) include samples of their work on their Web sites.

VIDEO: Video mashups also tend to be unauthorized, but they can easily be found on sites like YouTube ( ) and Google Video ( ). VH1's Best Week Ever ( ) posted a mashup of Tom Cruise's infamous appearance on "Oprah" with her evisceration of fabulist author James Frey. Google "brokeback parodies" to see all of the "Brokeback Mountain" mashups that are popping up daily. The best, however, is the DJ collective Eclectic Method --( ), whose audio-video mashups of Fine Young Cannibals and Jay-Z or OutKast and the Beatles must be seen to be believed.

WEB APPS: The Mashup Camp conference ( mashup ), which debuted last week in Mountain View, Calif., to discuss this phenomenon, gave its top prize to Podbop ( ), which lists the bands currently playing in your city, along with links to legal free downloads of their tunes. However, we just can't get enough of fd's Flickr Toys ( ), which lets you make your own magazine covers and movie posters from the photos of your choice.