There’s nothing like a great remix to take a good song and give it a little extra love. Remixes can heighten the lyrical focus of a song and give listeners a new perspective. They can increase tempos, add percussion, and transform a song into an almost entirely new creation. The best remixes can take songs from the “meh” pile and land them into heavy rotation on your playlist. Here’s a list of 10 remixes that reinvent and surpass the original versions.
Listen to the Indie Remixes That Rule Playlist
“Pilgrim” – Mø
“Pilgrim (MS MR Remix)”
Danish pop singer Mø liked New York duo MS MR’s remix of her single “Pilgrim” so much, she made a music video for it. The MS MR remix replaces the hand claps of the original with beats from a drum pad, giving it a stronger pulse. Even though the remix runs a full minute shorter than the original, MS MR created a grittier version of “Pilgrim” that dominates the original.
“Inside Out” – Spoon
“Inside Out (Tycho Remix)”
This remix of Spoon’s “Inside Out” is an example of taking a song that’s already great and giving it a new life. The Tycho remix doubles the midtempo of the original and boasts heavier bass, instantly making it fit for the late party hours. Halfway through the remix, the beat drops out, acoustic guitar fades in and a reimagined second half begins. There is a fluidity in the extension that compliments the original version and prevents any repetitious lagging in the remix. The raspy edginess of lead singer Britt Daniel’s vocals is a bit lost in the sped-up version, but if you’re looking for something to get your heart pounding a little faster, look no further.
“The Wolves” – Bon Iver
“Wolves (Kill Them With Colour Remix)”
Bon Iver’s vocal melodies were begging to be swooped up into a faster remix and the Kill Them With Colour Remix delivered. His vocals are the focal point of the remix regardless of the electronic soundscape of drum machines and the inclusion of Ini Kamoze’s “Here Comes The Hotstepper” sample. The remix takes two infectious melodies from opposing genres, melds them, and makes it work against the odds. Throw this one on repeat and sink into chill-out bliss.
“Falling” – HAIM
“Falling (Psychemagik Remix)”
HAIM’s infectious California pop melodies are so damn good, it’s hard to believe a remix could ever top one of their originals. But there’s no arguing that the Psychemagik Remix kicks “Falling” up a notch. HAIM liked this remix so much, they included it on their 2013 EP Falling. The remix practically drags you to the dance floor with its disco-infused rolling rhythm, sparkly synths, and groovy bass line. Seriously, just try to not move to this track. There have been several remixes of “Falling” but this one does nothing but amplify the best musical elements of the original version. Psychemagik, you killed it!
“Lotus Flower” – Radiohead
“Lotus Flower (Jacques Greene Remix)”
Canadian producer/DJ Jacques Greene took on Radiohead and ended up getting his remix included onto their 2011 remix album, TKOL RMX 1234567. Greene’s remix takes Radiohead’s bass-and-drum-heavy original and submerges it into an electronic bath. Although synths take a prominent role in the remix, it doesn’t stray too far from the original version. If it’s good enough to be given the nod of approval by Radiohead, you know it’s going to do it justice.
“Sister Winter” – Sufjan Stevens
“Sister Winter (Broke For Free Remix)”
The Broke For Free Remix of Sufjan Stevens’ “Sister Winter” makes only a few slight tweaks to the original version. The substitution of drum machines in place of the string-heavy sections of the original adds a Postal Service vibe and keeps it grooving along. Thanks to the nixing of the jingle bells and the “To wish you a happy Christmas” lyrics at the end, the remix version easily wins in this face-off.
“Trying To Be Cool” – Phoenix
“Trying To Be Cool (RAC Remix)”
The RAC Remix version of Phoenix’s “Trying To Be Cool” is the only remix on this list that takes the original version down a little. The RAC remix doesn’t kick the tempo up in the last half of the track the way the original does and it takes out the higher end completely. Synths and spacey looped vocals dim Phoenix’s bright pop lights down to a dark ’80s dance floor groove.
“Brooklyn Baby” – Lana Del Rey
“Brooklyn Baby (Monsieur Adi Remix)”
The Monsieur Adi Remix of “Brooklyn Baby” takes a sleepy Lana Del Rey track and pumps it with the amphetamines she’s singing about. The signature strings of Del Rey are amped up in this electronic kaleidoscope of a remix. Del Rey’s vocals are brought to the forefront of the mix ensuring her brilliantly hipster lyrics won’t escape the attention they deserve: “I’m talking about my generation / Talking about that newer nation / And if you don’t like it / You can beat it / Beat it, baby / You never liked the way I said it / If you don’t get it, then forget it / So I don’t have to f—ing explain it.” Thank you, Monsieur Adi for transforming the original snoozefest into a golden track.
“Naive” – The Kooks
“Naive (Jean Tonique Remix)”
British rockers The Kooks are always catchy as hell, so how could a remix of one of their tracks possibly be any better than an original? Two words: Jean Tonique. This man knows his way around a remix. His version of “Naive” keeps the melody of the original in tact and speeds up the tempo, injecting some sassy attitude. Tonique’s remix brings “Naive” into the electro genre with the addition of EDM fades and builds, synths, and handclaps and creates a new anthem for The Kooks.
“Fitzpleasure” – alt-J
“Fitzpleasure (Jim James Apple C Remix)”
With its weaving from bright electric guitar and a capella harmonies into heavy bass and drum sections, alt-J’s “Fitzpleasure” is already a fierce song to begin with. What makes the Jim James Apple C remix worth including on this list is their balanced reinterpretation. Keys and drums play major roles in the remix and create a smoother version that never leaves you hanging for the beat. Gone are the moments of a capella harmonies and interrupted rhythms from the original. That heavy bass of the original isn’t forgotten in the remix and comes in swinging in the increased tempo. This one’s meant to be heard loud.
This article, written by SBTS Founder Stephanie Horak, was also published on Indie88.com on November 12, 2014.