Time of Our Lives

What do you get when you combine a massive amount of computing power, easily accessible sound mixing programs, and a whole world that’s spending a lot of time at home?

You get something like “Time of Our Lives.”

This.

YouTuber “DJ Earworm” took songs from the last fifty years, corrected them for pitch and tempo, then took a small recognizable snippet from each and mixed them all together. What you get is surprisingly easy to listen to.

How many can you name?

This little time-waster lends itself to multiple listenings. Listen to it once just to get a nice easy idea of how it goes down. Then listen again to pick out the riffs you know. Maybe you’ll catch a hint of a song from your own wasted youth, whether it’s “Layla,” “99 Luftballons,” or “Oops… I Did It Again.” See how many you can identify or even recognize. I did pretty well up until the ’00s, when it seems my general knowledge began to fade. How about you?

Finally, watch the video again with the subtitles on. It will give you the title and artist of every clip, and you’ll be surprised there will be a few you couldn’t pick out even though you knew the song.

How they did it

Truth is, this sort of thing is much easier to do now than it ever was. It just takes about $500 in software and the willingness to watch a bunch of YouTube videos so you can learn how to use it.

In the 20th century, something like this would have happened one of two ways. Either you would sit there with 50 tape loops, speeding them up and copying them, running them through basic signal processing… or you could do it the way they actually did it back then.

Somewhere, back in the sands of time, I bet you listened to one of these pieces of music. Both were big hits at the time and they’ve been mostly forgotten since.

“Hooked On Classics, Parts 1 and 2” races through roughly 50 pieces of well-known classical music, backed inexplicably with electronic claps. Hey, it was the 80s.

Before “Hooked on Classics,” the same idea was applied to pop music from the 1960s and 1970s, with “Stars on 45,” by the band of the same name.

The easiest way to get a medley like this back in those days, was just to re-record it. Despite the fact that “Stars on 45” sounded like The Beatles, it wasn’t; it was just a bunch of Dutch singers. But you have to understand, this is how technology worked back then.

If “Time of Our Lives” had been recorded in 1990 instead of 2020, it would have probably been done live, with guitar players mimicking those famous riffs. And in a way it would have been better, because it would have been an original performance. But in another way, it would have been worse for not being “the” original performance. That’s how music works, I guess.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 7,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.