As fast-paced as K-pop is, with frequent comebacks, debuts, and many songs accompanying them, it is still possible to become bored — keeping track of all the numerous releases is near impossible for the average K-pop fan, especially international fans whose main form of exposure to new music is largely dependent on them choosing to look up a new song and clicking the play button for a MV — which may not always happen. Fans may decide to stick to a select few groups and listen to only their music. But how long can you go listening to the same set of songs repeatedly, especially if your bias group has gone on hiatus, or is putting out music that is not to your liking? The staleness sets in eventually.

So, how does one spice things up and make one’s favourite music more interesting? Well, remixes are a good start. A new beat or arrangement serving to give an oft-listened to song a new lease of life to your ears, and can bring about new sounds that you may not have thought were possible. Of course, changing the instrumental can only take a song so far and the desire to try out something more outlandish may arise… which would be the cue for the mash-up to make its appearance. A mashup takes upwards of two songs and merges the various elements together to create a new sound experience, kind of like an aural Eton Mess; traditionally this involved taking the vocal track of one song and fitting it with the instrumental of another, though there are also nowadays more wholesome merging of full songs together. There are a lot of benefits to mashups, including seeing (and hearing) old favourites in a new light, as well as potentially discovering new songs that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. And for the fans who make these mashups, they get to express their love for K-pop in a productive manner that allows them to demonstrate and further improve their skills and talent.

K-pop mashups can be kosher with an all-K-pop mix, or can branch out to and mingle with music from other countries, the U.S. being the most common. Below, in random order, is a starter on some of the highlights from the vast K-pop mashup collection available online.

“Lights Off vs. Wedding Dress” — DJ NiKiM [Jay Sean vs. Taeyang vs. Kevin Lien]

Big Bang and 2NE1 feature very heavily in east-west mashups, largely due to their western (and thus more familiar) sound and it can be seen in the way the songs easily merge. Jay Sean is no stranger to K-pop, with his composition “Deal With It” being transformed into SHINee‘s “Juliette;” here, his song “Lights Off” is mixed with both Taeyang’s “Wedding Dress” and Kevin Lien’s English-language cover of the same to create a really cohesive R&B mashup. This particular combination seems very popular, with other alternative mashups available online; the version below manages to layer the different songs very well.

“MAMA vs. Twins Final” — DJDoushitekimi [Exo-K vs. Super Junior]

I’ve never listened to Super Junior’s debut song, so what a way to be introduced to it, paired with their replacement’s hoobaes‘ own debut single. One of the great things about mashups is how they force the structure of one song to be changed to fit into the other, and this means that “MAMA” is arguably improved with the shedding of its Engrish chanting, though I do kind of miss the moaning of “Mama!” DJDoushitekimi’s mixes aren’t as clean as some others, but the mashup combinations presented and their arrangements are innovative.

“Try To Got A Power” — RJeeMashUp [2NE1 vs. B.A.P]

It’s amazing how well 2NE1 and B.A.P tend to work together so well, though it shouldn’t come as a surprise — these are two fierce K-pop groups, and this is a well-made mashup of “Try To Follow Me” and “Power;” in fact, there are a fair few other 2NE1-B.A.P “collaborations” happening on this YouTube channel, but “Try To Got A Power” is probably the best of the lot (grammar mistake aside–but hey, that’s how the song titles are).

“I Gotta Fire” — CKUNNMiX [2NE1 vs. The Black Eyed Peas]

And here is what 2NE1 have been collaborating on with I kid, but I do use 2NE1 again to show how a mashup can change the whole feel of a song. here, the up-beat and staccato-like “Fire” sounds smoother and calmer when meshed with The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling;” an effect achieved by swapping out a series of different sounds for one constant instrumental piece throughout the whole song. Actually, 2NE1 is probably the most popular artist for mashups, especially those of the east-west mix variety; It seems Blackjacks are well represented amongst the DJ crowd…

“The Goodbye Party (2011.2 Mashup)” — DJ Masa [various artists]

Brazilian DJ Masa likely has the highest profile of all K-popping DJs online, with even a collaboration with Super Junior’s Shindong under his belt. DJ Masa has a way of matching not only the sounds of different songs seamlessly, but also the lyrics, so that the end product could almost be a stand-alone song. This can be seen in “The Goodbye Party,” which features the majority of the songs released in the second half of 2011 arranged in such a way as to tell a story and stick with the Goodbye theme. This, SM, is what I would call a “hybrid remix.”

And while you’re at it, I would highly recommend “Why, Shy Boy,” with a warning not to consume any type of bevarage while watching.

The above are just a few of the many, many mashups available on the internet; how do you feel about mashups — do they keep the music interesting, or do you prefer your songs separate from others? What are your favourite mashups?