Mash-ups aren't so much my thing -- I’d much rather listen to a stupidly ironic cover than a bastardized version of two different songs -- but it seems fate has intervened to make me a believer. Someone very clever, who obviously has impeccable taste, went ahead and mixed Thom Yorke's ghostly "Atoms For Peace" with "Because of You," Kelly Clarkson's blood-pumping break-up hymnal.
"Peace of You," as I'll refer to it here -- way better than its given title, "Atoms for Idols" -- has Kelly going a capella over Thom's hand-made electronic bleeps. They sound almost horrifyingly good together. She's a Top-40 hook that slices up the char-grilled microcomputer that is Thom's soul. Him: "He'll be OK." Her: "I am afraid." The randomness of their harmony is something Yorke might approve of in some other form, offsetting his soft impactless pulses and frictionless ticks.
In the song, Thom is pretty much Kel-C’s backup singer. Until he gets to wail a few choice lonely couplets, like "Peel all of your layers off, I want to eat your artichoke heart" all by himself. Of course, it’s totally necessary for a lyric like that to take the forefront. And the imagery? Thom eating Kelly’s heart? Their lusciously harmonized dueling vocals? Okay, I can’t stop thinking about this -- and I know it’s utterly impossible because Thom is still with his "partner"/babymama Rachel; Kelly is way too busy making poor fashion choices (what gives?) and running around on her Addicted Tour to date a hot/homely super-intellectual/crazy-genius short middle-aged British man with a hardcore dance music fetish. But what if they had actually been INVOLVED?! Like after she was on AI or something. He dumped her because she was too Texas and "mainstream" for him, even though their love was quirky and unforgettable. So she got her producers to help her write Breakaway about Mr. Thomas Edward Yorke. No? I know. Never could happen. It would change my whole outlook on life, though. I kind of wish it were true. Well, I’m told the best mash-ups aren’t just mixed well. They have to clump together the unlikeliest of combinations. No different here. This thing should come with a downloadable package of raw cookie dough and a cognitive psychology book with the pages on curing depression pre-highlighted. I’m actually eating the MP3 with a spoon, right now. Oddly enough, I’m pretty sure the only thing that would comfort me at this point would be Kelly somehow incorporating Thom’s Touretz-like flail-dance into her stage act. Behind These Lazy Hazel Eyes? Killer.
DOWNLOAD: Thom Yorke & Kelly Clarkson, "Peace of You"/"Atoms for Idols" (mp3)
-- Sharon Steel