Every day, life tests us with millions of questions. Why was I put on this Earth? What is the meaning of life? How can I maximize happiness during my brief existence? What would my favorite songs sound like mashed up with the Quad City DJ’s track “Space Jam” from the film of the same name?
I dunno about the first three. But I can tell you that the answer to the last question lies on r/ComeOnAndSlam, a collection of the web’s best “Space Jam” mashups. There are thousands out there.
Quad City DJ’s vs. Skrillex. Quad City DJ’s vs. Cher. Quad City DJ’s vs. Carly Rae Jepsen. Quad City DJ’s vs. Macklemore. Quad City DJ’s vs. Mulan. Quad City DJ’s vs. Smash Mouth. Quad City DJ’s vs. Backstreet Boys. Quad City DJ’s vs. the Who.
In addition to the musical work, there are two other rules of “Space Jam” remixing that must be adhered to. First, the title must be converted to a basketball pun, ideally containing the words slam, jam, and/or Barkley. For instance, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” becomes “Everyballer (Barkley’s Back).” Secondly, Charles Barkley should be Photoshopped into the album art.
Why these remixes are so pervasive online requires a little bit of unpacking. On a base level, “Space Jam” is a hallmark of ‘90s nostalgia. Do you remember the ‘90s? Then you remember Space Jam, and transitively, you love Space Jam.
“But wait!” you say. “Wasn’t Michael Jordan the star of Space Jam? Not Charles Barkley?” That is also true. Why Barkley has become the face of Space Jam is not immediately clear; it seems the result of an unknowable process of context-removal that has occurred slowly over the course of several years. A very solid guess is that Barkley-as-meme can be traced to the indie game Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, which has one of the best sci-fi premises I’ve ever seen.
[In the year 2041,] Thousands upon thousands of the world’s greatest ballers were massacred in a swath of violence and sports bigotry as the game was outlawed worldwide. The reason: the Chaos Dunk, a jam so powerful its mere existence threatens the balance of chaos and order. … Flash forward 12 years to the post-cyberpocalyptic ruins of Neo New York, 2053. A Chaos Dunk rocks the island of Manhattan, killing 15 million. When the finger is put on the aging Charles Barkley, he must evade the capture of the B-Ball Removal Department, led by former friend and baller Michael Jordan.
That game turned Barkley into prime meme material in 2008, and he subsequently became the face of r/ComeOnAndSlam.
YouTube’s search function won’t display more than 1,000 results, but an unscientific search for the string “Quad City DJs vs.” returned 99,700 results. Here is a playlist with 630 different videos. Browsing them also reveals a few other unsurprising trends. Many of the mashups are “Space Jam” combined with a video-game soundtrack. This is partially related to fandom; the groups of “people who play video games obsessively” and “people who spend a lot of time online” often overlap. The other part is that, on a technical level, video-game music is meant to repeat indefinitely, with no beginning or end, making it easy to include in mashups. For similar reasons, mashups with anime theme songs are also very prevalent.
The odds are pretty good that a band you like has a “Space Jam” remix. I encourage you to search one out. And if, for some reason, it doesn’t exist, you can always make a request.
Now, please enjoy “Uptown Dunk,” which is exactly what you think it is.
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