Jimmy Kimmel on His Late-Night Show's Mashup Mondays: Thank Huey Lewis and the Foo Fighters

Of Monsters and Men, Jimmy Kimmel
Adam Rose

Of Monsters and Men at Work rehearsed for their May 2 MashUp performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Playing the mashup for laughs doesn’t work, says the show’s music booker Scott Igoe. “You’ve got to buy into the concept; you have to go all in.”

On Monday night (May 2), Jimmy Kimmel Live will kick off a new month of Mashup Mondays, the late-night show’s segment that combines two acts based on the compatibility of their names, rather than their musical styles. 

On the new segment, Of Monsters and Men join forces with Men at Work’s Colin Hay to form Of Monsters and Men At Work. The first Mashup Mondays ran in February 2015 and continue to run every Monday during the Sweeps months of February, May and November. Among the past mashups are Joss Stone Temple Pilots, Panic! at the Sisqo, Fall Out Boyz II Men, and Jewel and the Gang. Billboard talked with Kimmel and the show’s music executive, Scott Igoe, about how the idea came about and who their dream mashups are. 

Who came up with the idea for Mashup Mondays?

Kimmel: I am a big fan of both Huey Lewis and the News and Foo Fighters and I was searching one of them on YouTube and I saw that Huey did a couple of songs with Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl referred to them as Huey Lewis and the Foos. I’m a sucker for a good pun -- or a bad pun -- and I thought that would be fun to start mashing these bands up based on their names. 


Are you brainstorming all the time on names for potential mashups? 

Kimmel: Every once in a while I’ll write one down in the middle of the night that just comes to me. We do it two ways: we brainstorm generally on ideas and then I pick which ones I like. If you give me a band, I can probably come up with a few. It’s probably what I’m best at. It’s a very dumb skill. Then, sometimes, if we know we have an artist that’s coming and we know might be open to the idea, we’ll try to think of one specifically for that artist. 

Of Monsters and Men At Work? Behind the Scenes of Jimmy Kimmel's Mashup Mondays

How did Of Monsters and Men at Work come about? 

Igoe: This is one of those early brainstorming sessions that we do in the office or after work. I’m a big Men at Work fan. I grew up with them in the ‘80s.

How long did it take for this one to come together? 

Igoe: Over a year. You have an Icelandic artist and you have to wait for them to come to California. Fortunately [Men at Work’s Colin Hay] lives in Santa Monica. We pitched [OMAM’s label, Republic Records] first. We had to wait till Coachella and then were able to grab them.  Colin came up with the idea to mash “Little Talks” and “Down Under” together without us prompting him. Of Monsters and Men went to Colin’s house and met him and worked it up.

What does Mashup Mondays add to the show? 

Kimmel: It’s just dumb and funny and it’s something different. I think the bands get a kick out of it. The first one we did was Morris Day and The Haim. The girls from Haim didn’t really know Morris Day and the Time and Morris Day and the Time certainly did not know the girls from Haim. They were both nervous about it, but about halfway through the song they really started getting into it. My goal is to make it also a great performance on top of being an amusing pun and we’ve had some good ones, like Wee-Z Top [A combo of Weezer and ZZ Top] was a really good one.

You’re not afraid to cross-pollinate genres: Brad Paisley and Color Me Badd became Color Me Bradd.

Igoe: That one took a year too. We had to wait for Brad’s schedule to free up, but what we did was great for everybody, including ABC. We were able to lead into our CMA week with Color Me Bradd. Tuesday we did Jason Aldean. The next night we did a hologram with The Band Perry from Nashville, so it was country, country, country.

Have you had any that seemed like too much of a stretch? 

Kimmel: We really weren’t sure about Warren G and Kenny G. That one worked out. I think that may be our most popular, although we’ve had trouble clearing this stuff for online use. Kenny G didn’t know what was going on, but he brought it.

Part of the strategy is for these to go viral. How much is that hampering you if you can’t get clearance from Universal? Some of them had been taken down by UMG.

Kimmel: It’s not our No. 1 goal. Our No. 1 goal is to get people to watch the television show and to stay ’til the end to see what this crazy performance is going to be like. But it’s also nice for people to be able to go back and watch it online. 

Igoe: Universal are supportive of us when we bring these to them, so we do our best to work out what kind of streaming deal satisfies both parties. It’s still a 90-day license, and to go longer we work that out with the publisher. We’re now at a place where UMG as a whole is supportive of the mash-ups. They think it’s really creative. You’ll see when this mashup happens May 2, it will be online. Imagine Dragons [with REO Speedwagon] you won’t find online any more. As far as a blanket deal, I think we’re moments away from it not being an issue anymore.

Watch Jewel and & the Gang Unite for 'Jimmy Kimmel' Mashup Mondays

Igoe: This is still new, we don’t have 75 or 80 million views. We do our best to make it translate, but it’s a challenge. We’re trying to offer something special to get it virally out more. It probably just needs to be of a promotional effort between the two acts and the show and the label.

Is there a segment that one of your fellow late night hosts has, like James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke or Jimmy Fallon’s Classroom Instruments that you wish you’d come up with? 

Kimmel: Well, even if I came up with Carpool Karaoke, I couldn’t do it. I’m a shitty singer. He’s a great singer, that’s what makes it work. Same with Fallon, he’s a great singer. I can kind of carry a tune, but nobody’s interested in me singing. What am I gonna do?

You have four stages that artists can play on: the studio stage, the lobby stage -- which is where Of Monsters and Men At Work are playing -- the outdoor stage and you can block off Hollywood and Highland and play in the street. What advantage does that give you? 

Kimmel: When we have bands on our outdoor stage, their fans show up. Typically when you’re at a talk show, there are a couple hundred people who may or may not know who you are, so there’s a lot more excitement [with their fans there]. It’s more like a mini-concert. We ask the artists to do at least five songs if they’re going to be on our outdoor stage because we don’t want people to wait in line -- some of them wait overnight -- to hear one or two songs. Even though we don’t put it on air or put it online, we ask them to do it just for the studio audience. 

How difficult is it to put together a mashup? 

Kimmel: It is very challenging for our music department because bands are on tour, sometimes they don’t have an album out, they have to learn a new song. It’s really a nightmare for Scott and [music production coordinator] Mac [Burris], but it amuses me and so I insist on it. 

Igoe: For every nine noes, there’s one that comes through. It just happens that Flo Rida is going to be here for the Radio Disney Awards April 30. That’s the only reason this is working with Flo Rida Georgia Line. Florida Georgia Line was saying, we need May 2, it’s the only day we’re here. I’ll tape Flo Rida and give him a date when his album is coming out in June and FGL, we’ll do a mashup and save one for when the new single is coming out. Everybody wins. It’s very symbiotic. 

What kind of song works best for the mashup? 

Kimmel: A classic. You try to get a new band and a classic band. It’s best when we do the classic band’s song with the young band participating. We don’t want the band to just act as a house band for the lead singer of the classic band. We’re kind of figuring it out as we go along.

Who’s on your wish list? 

Kimmel: TLSia, Yo Yo Ma-donna, Crosby Stills and Slash, TV on the Radiohead, James Taylor Swift, KRS One Direction, Adele Biv Devoe, Shady Gaga. 

Igoe: I’d like to do No DoubtKast and U2Chainz. Jimmy and I both agree that Huey Lewis and the Foos really has to happen at some point. We just have to be really patient.