Mashup: Beyoncé x Stevie Wonder - Plastic Off the Sofa

A pile of colourful floppy discs. With one pink disc with a label on it, which features the cover art of my Beyoncé x Stevie Wonder mashup. The cover of which features a black and white shot of Beyoncé at her 2023 Grammys afterparty.

September 28th, 2023 marked the 47th anniversary of Stevie Wonder’s 18th studio album Songs in the Key of Life. A monumental album in his career, one of the few instances of a double album which felt justified by the quality which ran across it, and also an album that I adore. So this weekend felt fitting to share this mashup which takes the album cut “Summer Soft” with Beyoncé’s “Plastic Off the Sofa” slapped over the top of it.

“Plastic Off the Sofa” was never a song I disliked, but it wasn’t a song I found myself playing a great deal. This is probably a common thing for quite a few people and it’s understandable as to why. It’s the slowest song on the album. It’s the only lovey-dovey song on what is primarily bad bitch / hedonistic album. And it’s the least catchiest song on the album. But “Plastic Off the Sofa” is a really nice song, and I gained a new appreciation for it working on this mashup.

But the thing which really stuck out to me working on this mashup was how Beyoncé places her vocals. This isn’t something you will catch just casually listening to the original song; but Beyoncé doesn’t sing directly on beat, and this became very apparent when trying to line her vocals up with the music. I had to cut and shift absolutely everything by a second here, a milli second here, half a second there. What could have become really fucking annoying, become fascinating to me.

Beyoncé has always had a really unique way in terms of how and where she places words on songs, ever since the days of Destiny’s Child from as early as “No, No, No”. Sometimes it’s noticeable, on songs such as “Nasty Girl” or “Check On It”. But a lot of the time it’s really subtle. It’s an interesting choice, but it’s one that works really well on “Plastic Off the Sofa”, because it adds to the softness of the song and also makes what Beyoncé is singing feel more like a conversation than a need to be sharp on every beat.

Beyoncé doesn’t get a lot of credit for her approaches to certain songs, which is kinda unfortunate. But also understandable, because there’s usually always some other more obvious element of a song which draws focus.