Without Clearance

Or, how Eminem's new single spawned a dozen of the best (illegal) songs ever

The best of the lot--which fill the entirety of my MP3 player and likely will for months to come--let the lyrics play out in their entirety yet somehow recast "Without Me" in someone else's image. Their creators--who go by such names as The Toxteth Crusher, Spaced Ghost, B.R.K. and Denboy (surprisingly, none is called Lives in Parents' Basement)--barely touch the lyrics (no slowing down or speeding up to keep pace with the beat) yet make it sound entirely unique.

It's oddly moving when commingled with Hall & Oates' "I Can't Go For That" (no can do, you say?), bright and cheery when Marr-ed by The Smiths' "This Charming Man," disco-dancy after getting tangled up in Michael Jackson's "Burn This Disco Out" and Angie Stone's "Wish I Didn't Miss You," funky as old underpants when retrofitted with the Elvis Presley-Junkie XL "A Little Less Conversation" redo currently topping the pops in England and as classic-rock as a hoisted Bic when battling Led Zep's "The Wanton Song." The Timo Maas "Get Down" mash-up is better than the real thing, and, not surprisingly, Slim Shady also sounds right at home in the company of Prodigy, who "Breathe" new life into the song; you always knew Marshall was just a punk. Oddly, no one's yet fused Em's "Without Me" with Robert Goulet's "Without Me" (from The Happy Timesoundtrack), though surely it's but a matter of time.

Mathers & Oates? The pairing of Eminem's "Without Me" and Hall & Oates' "I Can't Go for That" might be the best single of the year. Too bad it's illegal.
Mathers & Oates? The pairing of Eminem's "Without Me" and Hall & Oates' "I Can't Go for That" might be the best single of the year. Too bad it's illegal.

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