I f you listened to the radio or went to clubs in the ’90s, there’s a solid chance that the word remix pushes a button in your brain, cueing that familiar sound, REEEMIIIIIIIIIIIX!
It’s the call to shittiness. You just know an otherwise good song is about to be defiled by a bad dance beat and random record scratches. The crappy remix is painful, but it’s worse when you know that remixing has awesome potential.
Remix culture (buzzword!) covers more than just music. Simply put, it’s about re-appropriating existing art, in any form, and creating something. Sometimes this gets artistically and legally sketchy (see Shepard Fairey’s famous “Hope” print). Other times, it leads to something cool, beautiful or just plain fun. Musicians are releasing entire remix albums now, inviting producers and DJs to take a crack at their songs, and of course, some producers just do it without an invite. It can go very wrong, but the playlist below shows how it can go very right.
“Rolling In The Heat,” Adele & Jamie xx vs. Cecile, Mr. Lexx & Timberlee : This one is mashup meets remix. The track is a hodgepodge of different songs, but the standouts are Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep,” especially in it’s first moments, when it’s just her vocals over a sharp, clapping beat. Then there’s “Iko Iko.” You know, “My grandma and your grandma / Sittin by the fire…”
“Bad Girls (Danja N.A.R.S. remix),” M.I.A., feat. Missy Elliot and Azealia Banks, “Bad Girls (Switch remix),” M.I.A. feat. Missy Elliot and Rye Rye : The original M.I.A. version of this song is a girl-power banger, and throwing three of the best female rappers in for guest verses over two hot producers and DJs only cranked up the power. Missy is in top form on both tracks, while Rye Rye and Azealia more than earn their spots.
“Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win,” Beastie Boys feat. Santigold, Major Lazer remix : A Beastie Boys and Santigold team-up was pretty excellent on its own. This remix has a lot of crappy club sound cliches going on, but it’s still so damn good. Much of that is thanks to a stomping beat that will drop booties everywhere. That includes mine, right here at my desk (sorry).
“Nil (Liars Remix),” The Twilight Sad : The Twilight Sad tends to live up to its name, but when Liars get their art-rocking hands on this track off The Twilight Sad’s latest record, they turn the dark, funeral hymn-like song into an equally dark dance track. It sizzles, crackles, bubbles and clinks without losing the ominous feeling.
“Ima Read (remix),” Zebra Katz feat. Gangsta Boo, Tricky and Njena Reddd Foxxx : The only beat on this one is an unchanging bass pulse, while everyone delivers a sedated verse that toes the line between seductive and menacing. There’s also a short take on the track on Azealia Banks’ Fantasea mixtape, with all the same qualities.
— Follow Ashley Dean on Twitter: @AshaleyJill