This list is not even up for debate, thank you very much
I did a lot of “corporate writing” last year and not enough fun pieces where I penned down random thoughts bumping around in my head.
As I’ve heard, the trick to a healthy, long term career is to enjoy the work. To do that, you have to sperse things you have to do with things you love to do.
Hence, this article.
This time I’m talking about remixes. You know, that trick where musicians release the same track twice and expect us to pay for both. Daylight robbery aside, once in a while, a remix can be justified, especially when it is better than the original in every way. Here are my favorites (It’s about to become obvious just how old I am 😂).
Gorillaz – 19-2000 (Soulchild Remix)
Let me give some free advice: you should never go back to listen to the original version of a song after you’ve heard a popular remix because, it will usually be a big letdown. That’s exactly what happened with the original version of “19-2000.” Where the original is lazy, tired and almost depressing, Soulchild’s remix storms out of the gate with a driving piano riff that keeps things springy.
Tell me you don’t bop your head when that chorus comes on!
“Get the cool, get the cool shoeshine.”
Britney Spears, “Overprotected” (Darkchild Remix)
It may be hard to believe today, but there was a time when all we had on our iPods were Britney songs. Such was the intensity of her status as pop goddess. In late 90s / early 2000s, she was setting fire to Number #1 charts across the world, and inadvertently reviving the teen-pop genre.
With fame, came critics (lots of them!). Overprotected was her eff-you to them all.
The original was okay but Rodney B. Jenkins aka Darkchild (who you’ll be hearing a lot of in this article) did a remix, infusing it with a more energetic beat and loads of drums.
During the bridge when Britney goes, “I don’t need nobody tellin’ me what I wanna…” you know you’re listening to pure teen gold.
Joe Featuring Mystikal, “Stutter” (Double Take Remix)
The original Stutter featured on the My Name Is Joe album with gentle guitar licks and the singer’s sweet croon. But then someone had the brilliant idea that what this mellow track needed was some aggression (after all, it’s a song about a man who catches his girlfriend cheating).
Enter the remix, with Mystikal who was at the pinnacle of his (short) career, delivering one of his typically visceral, unhinged verses. The song was better for it. The emotion was more intense and with Mystikal bringing his unique manic energy, the song told a more hard hitting story.
Craig David, “7 Days” (DJ Premier Remix)
Craig David’s Born To Do It is possibly the greatest debut album in the 21st century. Quote me! Every single track was a hit.
(Side note: this is the first album I ever bought with my money and got played non-stop for almost 4 months before listener fatigue set in).
7 Days was the second song from the album to hit #1. It was a crazy, big hit and ended up having a bunch of remixes but nothing could touch the DJ Premier version. It layered the track on a banging hip hop beat, changed the chorus, changed the intro and ultimately converted the song into gold with Mos Def churning out rap lyrics and vocal samples from Nate Dogg’s chorus in “Oh No” (You know how Nate Dogg’s voice makes everything sound better, right?).
You can’t help but bob your head when Mos Def goes, “Put your thumping back to it / It’s that music to set it off and get the mass movin”
Brandy – On Top of the World (Darkchild Remix)
Darkchild is a genius producer like no other. If you’re ever in doubt go listen to
– Toni Braxton’s “He Wasn’t Man Enough”,
– Brandy’s “U Dont Know Me”,
– MJ’s “You Rock My World”,
– and this remix.
It’s almost impossible to listen to this track and not move something – your head, your feet, your booty, something’s gotta move. Darkchild brought the groove and Brandy upped her already killer game.
And while Ma$e’s rap on the original was phenomenal (by 90s standards of course), Fat Joe and Big Pun delivered their A-game too.
Darkchild starts the remix with “I don’t think you’re ready for this one.”
Yes papi. But hit us nevertheless!
Numb / Encore
A literal example of two great parts combining to make an even greater whole (sort of like the lions combining to form Voltron or the planeteers summoning Captain planet).
Rock and Hip Hop don’t always mesh well, but when they do, you get gems like Numb/Encore.
Taken from the aptly named genre mashing album, Collision Course, Numb / Encore witnessed a wicked blend of LinkIn park’s famous hit track Numb with the Jigga-man’s Encore. The result is an ear-wormy track.
I mean, the original Numb was a great song but I cant hear that opening tune – “tun tun tun tun tun tun tun tun tun” without immediately replying, “thank thank you, you’re far too kind”.
Brandy, “U Dont Know Me Remix” (ft Shaunta & Da Brat)
There was something about working with Brandy that brought out the best in Darkchild. This remix is proof.
The original was already a banging, chart busting track with Brandy belting out some crazy tones. But Jenkins thought he could do it even better. So he gave it the now legendary, Darkchild Remix do-over. The result was a totally different track by all accounts (with a beat that goes in hard). The words were mostly the same but the chorus, the bridge, the oh so glorious beat!, even the video, was different. And better.
Suzanne Vega, “Tom’s Diner” (DNA Remix)
Time for a quick confession – this is the real reason why I wrote this list.
Another textbook example of the remix overshadowing the original. In the case of Tom’s Diner, I didn’t even know it was a remix I had been hearing for almost two decades until late last year!
The original track is a completely a-capella piece from the early 80s which peaked somewhere around #23 on folk music charts. The remix however, is by British DJ group, DNA, who envisioned something else and ended up creating, arguably, the most famous remix ever. They achieved this by pairing Vega’s conversational vocals with a thunderous rhythm section and bursts of brass while looping the simple ad-libbed outro – “da da da duh, doo da-doo doo” which became the song’s driving hook.
This resulted in a hit that shredded charts across the world, holding the #1 spot for weeks.
The weird thing is, DNA did not obtain permission to do this remix but eventually, and thankfully, the remix grew on Ms Vega and she reached an agreement with the team. These days, Ms Vega seems to prefer performing it to the original.
Fun note: The original has a legacy all its own. It was the track used to develop the MP3 compression algorithm, (earning Vega the informal title of Mother of the MP3). According to the inventor, Karlheinz Brandenburg, “I was ready to fine-tune my compression algorithm…somewhere down the corridor, a radio was playing ‘Tom’s Diner.’ I was electrified. I knew it would be nearly impossible to compress this warm a-cappella voice.“
Here’s the original. You should give it a listen.
Got any favorite remixes?
Photo Credit: myfreewallpapers.net