There are remixes that became more popular than the original song, often dividing the fans between those who see an improvement and those who think it shouldn’t have been done. We came up with a list of five that, despite not being popular, are simply too good to be missed.
Zero 7’s tasteful twist of N*E*R*D’s Provider
The original song by N*E*R*D received the video treatment but no proper airplay when it initially released in 2002. Provider was released as the final single from their underrated debut album In Search of… yet was barely recognized in Europe, let alone the U., cracking only the #20 spot on the UK Singles Chart as a double A-side for Lapdance. Zero 7 hopped on this track and in their typical downtempo fashion, added volume and soothing sounds to the humble song. The opening bass line is sleep-inducing (as is most of Zero 7’s music, in an exceptionally good way), and then the percussion kicks in prior to the introduction of the light acoustic chords. Pharrell Williams lets out a soft “hey” before starting off the story within the song. The call-and-response chorus grooving with the subtle strumming of the acoustic guitar and warping space-esque effects put on by Zero 7 makes this remix a must-listen. The final three minutes and fourteen seconds of this colossal seven minute and thirty-seven song is enough to blow you away, as Zero 7 knows what sounds to bring in at the right moments to aesthetically please all of your music needs.
Alt-hip hop producer AmpLive released the eight-track Rainydayz Remixes, which is essentially remixes of Radiohead’s In Rainbows with a trip-hop twist. Video Tapez is his remix of Radiohead’s woeful, tear-jerking outro to the album, Videotape. Del the Funky Homosapien of underground fame (as well as Deltron 3030) is featured on the track as the MC, as well as Thom Yorke’s crying “when I’m at the pearly gates / this will be on my videotape.” While the original track is a glum song possibly about one’s death, AmpLive breathes new vivid life into the song with Del’s trademark flow and almost completely erases the vast wasteland of emotion that Yorke evokes.
Ro Ransom’s take on Obedear by Purity Ring
Ro Ransom is one of Harlem’s underground rappers gaining steam. In preparation for his mixtape Ransomnia at the time, he dropped a teaser video of his take of Purity Ring’s Obedear. I caught up with the rapper to see why he chose the Purity Ring single. “I’m always listening to some other shit,” says Ransom. “I’m more inspired by non-rap genres than I am by rap. It’s like when it used to be taboo for white girls to fuck with black dudes, shit like that’ll give birth to jungle fever. So whenever shit is different or weird it piques my interest. Also it’s just dope and I like dope shit.” Purity Ring’s synthpop influence and Megan James vocals tunes in perfectly with Ro Ransom’s verses. Ransom explained what makes a remix complete: “It’s putting a new twist on it. There’s no point in remaking a song without injecting an alternative perspective, whether it be sonically/aesthetically, or in the content, something. It’s the juxtaposition that makes it worth checking out once, let alone revisiting.”
Ro Ransom is currently prepping to release his new mixtape Ro Ransom Is the Future.
Unkle’s electro-infused I’m Designer (originally by Queens of the Stone Age)
London’s Unkle are frequent collaborators with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, so it’s no surprise that they have remixed a couple of the band’s songs. Era Vulgaris’ I’m Designer got remixed by Unkle into a very danceable, electro beat, with a tint of industrial – almost Trent Reznor-esque. The song was released on extended versions of Era Vulgaris as well as the B-sides. Homme’s sardonic lyrics takes jabs at today’s generation, and Unkle’s uptempo sweeping beat somehow is better suited than QotSA’s original track. While QotSA’s version has unconventional song structure meant to coincide with the lyrics, Unkle produced a more accessible, sleek sound to “I’m Designer” that’ll give fans a unique version of an already unique song.
Benji Mann’s cover/remix of tomandandy’s Post Suicide
Musical duo tomandandy (Andy Milburn and Thomas Hajdu) have scored several films and composed many soundtracks, their work spanning twenty years. The duo scored Roger Avary’s film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ sophomore novel The Rules of Attraction. With songs like Afternoon Delight by Starland Vocal Band and Six Different Ways by The Cure, the soundtrack is filled with irreverent 80s tracks that fit the mold of the story. However, as with every Ellis plot, there will always be some hints of lust, mystery and fear. After the climactic suicide scene in the film, tomandandy’s original Post Suicide looms its way onto the scene, with haunting howls and a steady drum beat and bassline soon interrupted by distorted voices and static, only to be silenced again later by a pair of final howls. The brief track, already outstanding in itself clocking in at a minute and fifty-two seconds, was stretched to a five minute and fifty-six second track by Benji Mann for his 2012 EP Lexington Ave. The foundation of the song is untouched, still equipped with the howls and crisp bassline. Mann layers soft-spoken words of suicide and the adolescent culture’s obsession surrounding it: “Suicide is overrated, overdose is played out / So tell your friends to tell their friends that it’s cool again to fade out.” I was able to get in contact with Mann to speak about the lyrics, in which he says that “those are actually lyrics I wrote for another song that I ended up not finishing but they just seemed to fit really well to feel of this song”. I asked him about the howls being the “main ingredient” of the track, and how he decided to work around them: “Well the howls and the bass line are the part of the original song that really hooked me so I wanted to preserve them in the remix, and build the rest of my track around them.” The chilling Post Suicide that was solely intended for a brief movie scene served as a very wintry backdrop for Mann’s own personal version of the song.
Benji Mann is compiling music for a release under Calm Down Collective, a new project he has coming up.