An Interview With the Man Behind the Viral Huey Lewis-Metallica Mashup

How the YouTube creator combines unlikely songs ("Hip to Be Square," "Enter Sandman")to make something new and outrageously fun

Bill McClintock mashups
Jeff Kravitz / Al Bello / Ron Wolfson / Jack Mitchell / Per Ole Hagen

Update 10/6/2021: This week is the 35th anniversary of Huey Lewis and the News releasing “Hip to Be Square,” possibly the most cringe song of all-time. And this fall, we’ve been celebrating 30 years since the release of Metallica’s self-titled “black album,” which came out in August of 1991.

Earlier in 2021, YouTube creator Bill McClintock combined Lewis and Metallica for an amazing mash-up — which we spoke to him about just after its release. While you’re here, check out McClintock’s newest release this week, an unbelievably weird and great hybrid of Nine Inch Nails and Hall & Oates.

It turns out Ratt and Marvin Gaye have a lot in common.

Or that’s what you’d conclude if you listened to “I Heard it Round and Round Through the Grapevine,” a pitch-perfect mashup of a 1984 pop-metal anthem and a 1968 Motown classic.

It’s just one of several unusual musical hybrids crafted by Bill McClintock, an elementary general music teacher by day and YouTube sensation in his off-time, where his mashups get anywhere from 200K to four million views.

“I get a lot of comments saying that the two songs I combined sound better than both original songs,” McClintock tells InsideHook. (Also, visually, the juxtaposition of the two acts can be really jarring and funny.)

One interesting note is that McClintock is using a rather old tech format (YouTube) and classic rock/soul/pop songs to go viral, as opposed to TikTok. I tend to see reposts of his work on Facebook and in email newsletters, which shows the demographic where his videos are getting noticed. (Also, until he came along, I hadn’t thought about mashups in years.)

McClintock was kind enough to answer our questions via email, which we’ve interspersed with our favorite of his mashups.

InsideHook: How do you pick the songs you’re going to use together?

Bill McClintock: In general, I pick two songs that are in the same key and roughly the same tempo. Many songs could theoretically be combined by using that method, but I try hundreds of combinations until I find two songs that sound like they belong together.

You often throw in guitar solos or bits from other songs with the mash-ups. Is there a particular method you use to choose those?

I try to do whatever I can to keep the mashups from sounding boring. If I were to stick with a strict A (song 1) + B (song 2) format, I feel that my listeners would get a sense that they’ve heard everything there is to hear in the mashup after one verse and chorus. Adding guitar solos is a way of creating surprises in the music, which is something I enjoy immensely. As far as choosing guitar solos, I pretty much stick with the similar key and tempo formula.

How long does it take to put together a single mashup?

I feel like each new mashup takes longer than the one before because I am becoming more and more critical of my work. Once I have an idea and I start mixing the tracks and creating the video, it takes about 20 hours from start to finish.

Why does Slayer work so well mashed up with pop acts?

Because … SLAYER!!!! Haha, no I don’t really have any idea.

Have record companies contacted you, either with praise or with copyright concerns?

Record companies, in general, are very much against any unauthorized use of the songs that they own the rights to. If I use a song that is “off limits,” the record company can issue a formal complaint to YouTube and YouTube has no choice but to block the song or take it down altogether. A takedown results in a copyright strike for me and three copyright strikes within a 90-day period would result in termination of my YouTube account. The whole thing sucks, really. I would consider moving to another platform but I probably wouldn’t have anywhere near the amount of followers I have now.

Have any of the acts you’ve used contacted you or mentioned you on social media?

I’ve had several artists (or official pages of those artists who are no longer with us) share my work. These include Van Halen News Desk, Ratt, Pantera, The Bangles, Zakk Wylde, Rick James, Motley Crue, Motorhead, David Coverdale, Within Temptation, Frankie Banali of Quiet Riot, one of the Spice Girls (I forget which one) and Nile Rodgers of Chic. Brian Blotzer of Ratt contacted me through Facebook Messenger to tell me how much he liked the Marvin Gaye/Ratt mashup.

Do you have a favorite mashup you’ve done?

It depends on the day, but if I can only pick one, it would have to be Spiceknot — “If You Wanna Breathe My Sulfur.” I made that one a year and a half ago and still find myself watching the video as I’m walking on the treadmill at the gym.

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