Dhunki A Cappella
Royals/Dil Se Re - Single (2014)
Review By Michael Marcus
September 3, 2014
This single is available for download from these vendors:
A great mashup combines two songs that share similar musical and lyrical themes, encouraging the listener to hear each song in a new and compelling way. Royals/Dil Se Re, the debut single from University of Texas at Dallas's Dhunki A Cappella, is not a great mashup.
According to a line-by-line translation provided by the group, Dil Se Re means "from the heart," and indeed this A. R. Rahman song is filled with sweeping romantic imagery (sample lyric: "A windstorm has arrived / just as a longing desire broke forth from the heart"). What this has to do with Lorde's mega-hit satire of the material excesses permeating Western pop and hip-hop, however, is beyond me. Even the musical connection between the two songs is tenuous at best: the tempos are different, giving us a needlessly sped-up Royals to start the track off, and the songs don't even share the same chord structure.
To the group's credit, though, the Royals section does show some purposeful creative risk. The thumping drum beat and sparse harmonies of the original are gone, replaced with a dense, polyphonic wall of sound. The Bollywood-style "na na na na na" phrasing underneath Royals is both interesting and a fairly seamless transition into Dil Se Re. And Dil Se Re itself is a beautiful song that is presented here quite elegantly.
These two songs simply don't belong together, and it's their combination that is this track's ultimate undoing.