We all feel the urge to take broken-hearted adolescents and shake them out of their sullen, self-involvement. David Rees attempts to do just that to the forlorn adolescent par excellance, Taylor Swift, in her jilted lament, “I Knew You Were Trouble” by blending it with Aphex Twin. In the mashup, “T4rouble,” Rees strips Swift’s song of its original instrumentality and underlays Aphex’s soft, vacillating electronic organ music and a grating, trilling drum machine. The result takes away Swift’s ability to lull us into her story of the exciting boy who turns out to be bad—a joy originally accentuated with a simple guitar twang, which eventually descends into a chorus that becomes increasingly distorted and overwhelmed. Aphex’s rapid-fire drum machine lands in the space between Swift’s own verbal beats, as if playing the role of her masculine partner, whose steps she was never in sync with. So instead of feeling her original joy, we sense the impending separation from the outset. And though the shrill drums fortuitiously fade out at a couple key moments, the organ music never stops, even during her big moment of realization, “Because I knew you were trouble when you walked in,” a moment which in the original is underlined with just a few soft piano notes. The result is a song with none of the slow, sweet pace of Swift’s original emotions. Instead, in the disjunction between music and lyrics, we hear the shrill, outsider’s perspective on her angst, who sees the impending crash in fast-forward. Instead of a realization about her own romantic tragedy, the mash-up sounds ugly and inevitable.
Listen to the mashup on Soundcloud