Top 50 Remixes of 2014 (25-1)

This truism has no expire date.

This truism has no expiry date.

Here are the heavyweights, my top 25 remixes of the year…

25. Britney Spears – Alien (Nick and Country Club Martini Crew Remix)

Brit Brit’s been remixed a kajillion times over the years, and this reboot is one of the best.


24. Maximo Park – Leave This Island (Mogwai Remix)

Mogwai completely change the amazing source material, yet it remains eminently listenable.


23. Future Islands – Doves (Vince Clarke Remix)

Remixes of Future Islands songs tend to be a little obtuse; this track is not that. It’s a slick, straightforward dance remix of a great tune. Refreshing.


22. Paris Suit Yourself – Won’t K (Sophie Remix)

Sophie’s sound is unmistakable. This remix is too.


21. Noel Gallagher – In The Heat Of The Moment (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

Awesome remix that all but erases Noel’s vocal, but electrifies the melody in stark, crisp ways.


20. Oasis – Wonderwall (Sava and Razz Remix)

Don’t think I’ve ever heard Liam’s voice attached to something so overtly happy. Obviously nothing will ever touch the original, but 20 years later, it’s cool to hear a new take on one of the best tracks of the last 30 years.


19. Bombay Bicycle Club – Luna (Karl G Remix)

An ethereal, space-filling remix of one the two best songs on BBC’s latest record. This track is at peace with calm, an aural balm.


18. Moby – Almost Home (Sound Remedy Remix)

My favourite Sound Remedy remix of the year. His output the last two years has been incredible. There’s something about his sound that greases the emotional wheel, in the process producing all the feels.


17. Tove Styrke – Even If I’m Loud It Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking To You (White Sea Remix)

White Sea construct a complete face-lift of the original, turning an unabashed pop smash into a chilly Scandinavian exploration track. Snow falls in cascading crystals upon this quiet, lonesome white sea.


16. Beyonce f. Kanye, The Weeknd, Jay-Z – Drunk In Love (Remix)

Yeezy and The Weeknd lead and kill this remix.


15. Lilly Wood and The Prick – Prayer In C (Robin Schulz Remix)

One of the more popular remixes of the year. Deservedly so.


14. Tove Lo – Habits (Hippie Sabotage Remix)

Nothing can touch the source material, but this down-tempo remix is a brooding, pulsating banger in its own right.


13. Charli XCX – Boom Clap (Cahill Edit)

Nothing more and nothing less than complete dance-pop decadence.


12. John Legend – All Of Me (De Hofnar Remix)/(Tiesto Remix)

Still can’t decide which remix of the two I prefer. I’ll take both and call it a win.


11. Lykke Li – No Rest For The Wicked (Klangkarussell Remix)

Bangin’ and Klangin’ up and down and all around. A sweaty Swedish night to melt all the ice.


10. Little Daylight – Overdose (Future Islands Remix)

Not only did Future Islands release one of the albums of the year and drop probably the best live tv performance of the year, but they had a few minutes of spare time, dabbled in the remix trade, and nailed the shit out of that too. So the great fire they wrote about for On The Water was an autobiographical prophesy?


9. Royksopp and Robyn – Monument (The Inevitable End Remix)

This will be a beacon when they’re gone, that much is sure. This remix is a monument of considerable light and size, a prize fight throwdown by 3 Scandinavian EDM/Pop stalwarts.


8. Lily Allen – Air Balloon (Digital Farm Animals Remix)

A massive, otherworldly earworm of a remix.


7. Banks – Beggin For Thread (Gryffin & Hotel Garuda Remix)

If Hotel Garuda is as pleasant a stay as this remix sounds, I booked a vacay there yesterday.


The following six remixes are on another level from everything else in 2014.

6. Jose Gonzalez – Heartbeats (Filous & Mount Remix)

The core song that is “Heartbeats” can thrive in any condition. The original version by The Knife is a weird, warbly, synth-pop hit. Jose Gonzalez’s cover is a complete makeover; it’s vulnerable, striking, and rife with a sad beauty. Now several years after “Heartbeats” and its cover were released, this wonderful dance remix drops. Where the cover lives in its sadness, this remix merely alludes to it. No matter which heart it occupies, the lyrics and melody that comprise this tune beat uninterrupted.


5. La Roux – Let Me Down Gently (Sailors Remix)

Simply irresistible. This song is a boat with legs navigating its course by dancing on water. It’s not the most direct way to get from point a to b, but to be a romancer on this level requires one take a tropical chancer.


4. Ed Sheeran – I See Fire (Kygo Remix)

The sound of serenity. Kygo put in a lot of work in 2014, but no remix of his was better (or bigger) than this one. Ed Sheeran’s warm, pleading vocals are married perfectly with the pop-indebted track. Kygo insulates the vocals with gorgeous sounds at every turn. If Ed Sheeran is the creator and seer of this fire, Kygo is its protector, its guardian in a galaxy where streaks of red-orange heat are strewn across every conceivable world, a place where life must be hot in order to unfurl.


3. Jessie Ware – Tough Love (Cyril Hahn Remix)

I wrote this at the beginning of October and not a damn thing has changed:

“Sourcing an impossibly sexy and slow-tempo’d original, Hahn takes this remix somewhere else entirely. He makes the song scoot in its boots, turns the pensive vibe of the original into a celebration of hard work. He makes tough love seem like a joy. What an accomplishment.”

This remix was, is, and will remain an incredible track. Only one or two remixes per year achieve this level of brilliance. Cyril Hahn should be forever proud he’s done that with his “Tough Love”.


2. Sam Smith – Stay With Me (Rainer & Grimm Remix)

Sam Smith has a voice that can do anything. That said, I think his incredible talent is best suited in ballads and dance songs. He’s delivered tremendous moments with both types already; his “Nirvana” and “Stay With Me” prove his mettle with ballads, while his power to make people dance was proven on Naughty Boy’s “La La La” and Disclosure’s “Latch”. We can add the Rainer & Grimm remix of “Stay With Me” to that list straight away.

The Toronto duo take the heart-wrestling ballad and turn it into a slinky, sexy, dance-pop gem of the highest order. Hands down, one of the catchiest remixes of the year.


1. Sufjan Stevens vs. Signalrunners – Chicago (Club Mix)

Something kind of odd happened as I was working on this list; I realized my favourite remix of the year was not from 2014.

I’m not exactly sure what year this remix is from, though a cursory search on Youtube seems to suggest its from 2007. For as much as I love “Chicago”, I didn’t hear this remix in 2007, or any other year, until this one. And my non-denominational deity, what a mark it left in 2014. When I say I love Sufjan Stevens’ original, I really mean it; when I think about compiling a list of the best songs from 2000-2009, “Chicago” would be near the top. Its tenderness is incomparable, its melody is indefatigable, and its heart is bigger than the sun.

When I first heard this Signalrunners remix some weeks ago, I was immediately walloped by a searing sense of nostalgia, taken back to a time when I first heard Stevens’ masterpiece, to my life at the time. The direct train to Nostalgia Land that certain songs give us free tickets to is one of the very best things about music.

Make no mistake though, this track’s brilliance does not begin and end with the fact that it brought me back to the original, and to another time in my life. This remix is absolutely sensational musically. The flourishes are fantastically timed, the build-up is a bonanza, and the entire offering is an escape to elation. It’s like gliding weightlessly and without worry through clouds, oscillating between being taken on a tantalizing trip and becoming a cloud itself. This atlas is entirely comforting, shrugging off any concern that the flightpath is wrong.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but going to Chicago — remix, original, or any other suburban destination, interpretation — was not one of them.

On a whim, we’ll sell our clothes to the state, drive all night, revel in the passionate spontaneity. We might fall in love. We’ll probably fall out of it. But in the end, we’ll come back. To Chicago — whether we’re from there or not. We made our minds up. You had to find it. All things go, all things go.


I couldn’t help but link the original:

Top 25 Songs and Films of 2013: (15-6)

For an explanation of the WAR value next to each song and movie, see the previous post, my Top 25 Songs and Films of 2013 (25-16) or click here,

Here are my Top 25 Songs and Films of 2013 (15-6):

15. Kings of Leon – Supersoaker (WAR value: 7.0)

It’s not just that I wasn’t over the moon for “Supersoaker” when I first heard it, I really didn’t like it. I thought it was an odd choice for a lead single — the wrong choice. Man alive was I misguided. I think I changed my mind sometime after I’d heard the track for the tenth time. Its wonder and greatness unfurled to me like a flower exposing itself to the warmth of spring. It was a risky but brilliant choice as a lead single. It sounds modern yet classic. Caleb Followill’s vocal is fantastic. The production is flawless. And the line, “I don’t mind, sentimental girls, sometimes…” kills. “Supersoaker” is far and away the best song on their latest LP, Mechanical Bull, and one of the best songs they’ve ever done.


The Conjuring (WAR value: 5.0)

The Conjuring was legitimately frightening with twists and turns aplenty. The rare horror film that’s scary yet fun to watch. An impressive directorial effort by James Wan, who used a game cast to delicious effect.


14. The 1975 – Sex/The City (WAR value: 7.3)


I prefer this original version to the newer, slightly massaged version. There’s something a little more free about this one. It breathes better. “Sex” is rife with passion. It’s desperate, uncomfortable, energetic, and it sounds so bloody good. It sounds undeniably of the present. It seems like the musical hooks number in the thousands, and even still, there are more. I haven’t seen this band live yet, but I’m willing to bet a large sum that the line “she’s got a boyfriend anyway” is sung with rapturous vitality at their shows. “Sex” announced that The 1975 are interested in filling arenas in the near future.

The City:

Where I prefer the less polished, original version of “Sex”, I prefer this, the more polished, newer version of “The City”. The mix of kick-drum-heard-on-the-moon, electric guitar plucking and pulsating, and shoe-gaze synthesizers is a titanic combination. Many other bands are employing this type of sound, but almost no others make it sound as good as The 1975. I also love how the lyric in the chorus can be heard as “the city is” or “insidious” depending on what you want to hear. Neat trick. This band is up to some really big things.


Pain and Gain (WAR value: 5.1)

Here is where I retract my earlier statement about Michael Bay. Sure, he can make bloated films that seem to coast by on action-by-numbers, things breaking, blowing up, and the like. Pain and Gain has some of that, but it’s also extremely enjoyable. Mark Wahlberg was game as the lead in this take on the pursuit of the (Performance Enhancing Drugged Up) American Dream. But by far, I enjoyed this movie most because of The Rock. Dwayne Johnson’s absolutely hilarious. I didn’t know he had this kind of performance in him. He was a riot for much of the film, at turns being loony, irrational, paranoid, and unpredictable. For me, it’s his finest acting job to date. Pain and Gain is preposterous, trashy, silly, stupid, but so damned fun.

Pain and Gain


Song-wise, I’d say the following tunes are in an echelon above everything else this past year. These are special songs…


13. Neko Case – Local Girl (WAR value: 8.0)

From time to time, I’ll mention how a band or artist sounds unique, because of their voice, lyrics, or sound. With Neko Case, I couldn’t mean the sentiment more, and it’s all of the above. No one in the world has a voice like hers, so clean, so full of force and power. Her voice sounds like a mountain having a conversation with the wind, repeated to the plains and sung for the animals. Her lyrics are one-of-a-kind, considered, literate, creative, and heart-rattling. And her sound is just as rare, an ode to the alt/country/pop of yore. The melody in “Local Girl” is absolutely, positively, stunning. Neko soars here in every way imaginable. It’s my favourite song from her of-course-it-is brilliant(ly titled) album, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. Neko Case is a throwback. I couldn’t be more firm in my resolve when I say I love her as an artist: her voice, music, intelligence, and creativity. For me, it’ll always be Neko Case and then everyone else.  


This Is The End (WAR value: 5.4)

This Is The End is a tonne of fun. Seeing the stellar cast play caricatures of themselves was delightful. James Franco and Seth Rogen were on point. Michael Cera was a riot. And Jonah Hill was really good too — spoiler alert — particularly in the bust-a-gut-funny scene where he’s possessed and is tied to a bed.

this is the end

12. Blue October – Sway/Bleed Out (WAR value: 8.1)

I feel close to Blue October. From the first time I heard “Hate Me”, I fell for lead singer Justin Furstenfeld’s passionate delivery and way with melody. The band hasn’t garnered the attention they deserve since that first big hit. They’re still pumping out mammoth, great-sounding, emotionally resonating alt-rock songs though, with “Sway” and “Bleed Out” being two gargantuan efforts. Both tunes contain hooks galore. They induce shivers. They tug at heartstrings. They’re beautiful songs. I can’t say enough how much I dig Blue October, and how much I love these two spectacular, emotionally invigorating songs.


Bleed Out:


The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug (WAR value: 5.7)

This movie looked spectacular, particularly the dwarves’ escape from elven captivity into the river. The Hobbit is one of my all-time favourite books, so I was trusting, wide-eyed and receptive to how Peter Jackson and company would visualize Tolkien’s seminal tome. Jackson did it justice, inasmuch as a movie can do a book justice. I was immersed in the world — yet again — and can’t wait to see how things wrap up in the final instalment.

the Hobbit desolation of smaug

11. Chvrches – Recover/Now Is Not The Time/Lies (WAR value: 8.3)

All three of these songs, “Recover”, “Now Is Not The Time”, and “Lies” are perfect, pristine pop songs. It’s the construction, the delivery, the sum of the sounds. Everything is bang on. I bet Chvrches were meticulous in crafting these songs. It sounds like no detail was left unconsidered. Sometimes this can make a song bland or robotic. Not here. These songs are brimming with organic life and freshness. What stunned me most was that Chvrches kept dropping hit after hit after hit. I was flabbergasted. It didn’t make sense that any band or artist could be that prolific, especially a new band like Chvrches. But after “Lies” and “The Mother We Share” came “Recover”, after which came “Now Is Not The Time”. At that point, I was seriously shocked. It wasn’t possible that a band’s first four songs could be that good. But it was happening. Then, came “Gun”, which is also fantastic, and a few months later, their debut album, The Bones Of What You Believe finally arrived. Then we were given more(!) bangers, “Lungs” and “Tether” leading the way. I’m still perplexed by how this came to be. Chvrches are the best new band I’ve heard since Future Islands. Their way with synth-pop — in an absurdly crowded field — is utterly unique, an immaculate amalgam of the past with an uncompromising and unrepeatable take on the present and future.


Now Is Not The Time:



American Hustle (WAR value: 5.8)

I enjoyed American Hustle, and I will admit that it’s, in many ways (the acting, direction, and story), an excellent film, but something’s holding me back from liking it more. The only thing I can come up is that the leads, though acted superbly, are tough to root for. When I watched it, I didn’t feel like I had a “dog in the race” so to speak. I sat down to watch it, and it experienced it without ever really pulling for anyone to come out on top. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper were particularly good here, but they were better, and so much more likeable, in Silver Linings Playbook. I’d like to give it some time, watch it a second time to see if I still feel the same way.


10. The Boxer Rebellion – Diamonds (WAR value: 8.6)

The Boxer Rebellion don’t get enough credit. They had two dazzling songs a few years back, “Evacuate” and “Semi-Automatic”, though unfortunately, the band didn’t explode like they should have. In 2013, they came back with what’s probably the best song they’ve ever done in “Diamonds”. I was obsessed with the song for weeks and weeks. It’s the overwhelmingly sad way Nathan Nicholson delivers the vocal. It’s the opposing force of nature that is the music, shimmering guitars buoyed by steady drumming and subtle synth underpinnings. It’s the rise and fall, the simplicity of the lyrics, the drifting away, from blame, from anger, not necessarily to a place of peace, but to a place that’s just away. “Diamonds” speaks to the futility of one person’s attempt to keep a relationship from being gobbled up by expectations of progress, and literally, that sparkling signifier of a gem. Ironic, as this song is undoubtedly one of the precious jewels of 2013.


Spring Breakers (WAR value: 6.0)

All-in-all, Spring Breakers is a good movie. It’s occasionally funny and unabashedly youthful, in its confusion, energy, and wildness. The four lead girls were decent. Make no mistake though, this movie’s carried by James Franco. It looks like he had a blast playing Alien (Riff Raff, if you’d believe Riff Raff), and that was undeniably infectious. It’s my favourite James Franco performance to date, and his strangest. The Alien-singing-Britney scene is one of my favourite movie scenes of the past few years. It’s demented, sweet, frivolous, impetuous, and absurd. And it’s why Spring Break will last forever, y’all.


9. The Knife – Full of Fire (WAR value: 8.8)

“Full of Fire” is a monstrous concoction of political intent, industrial sound-sculpting, and electronic imagination. It’s a frenzy of pulse, weaponry, and skill. It’s a nine-minute tour de force in bad-assery. Karin and Olof have never sounded so vital, so in control, so angry. Shaking The Habitual, from whence “Full of Fire” comes, is a dense affair, with not nearly the amount of hooks as The Knife’s last album proper, Silent Shout. There are a few outstanding tracks, and also a 19-minute track where The Knife do everything possible to lose your interest. They’re not fighting for you to listen. That commitment is up to you. They’re way past that, fighting for something much, much bigger. The album, and “Full of Fire” as its solider in the foreground, is a left-field effort from the maybe the most left-field band on the planet. “Full of Fire” is indeed burning, and full of so much more than heat.


World War Z (WAR value: 6.1)

World War Z is reminiscent of Book of Eli and I Am Legend, but more fun than the former, and waaaay more interesting than the latter. It’s Contagion with more intrigue and more of a rooting interest. I was gripped the entire way.


8. Drake – Hold On, We’re Going Home (WAR value: 9.0)

By far, the catchiest song Drake’s ever done. It’ll be on playlists from here to eternity, which is what Drake and producer Majid Jordan had intended. Everyone intends to do something like that. Everyone would love to be a part of a song this special. It’s just such a rarity to connect on that intention. What makes the situation even more amazing is that the beat and vocal seem so effortlessly constructed and delivered. “Hold On, We’re Going Home” is a monumental pop song. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention part of the appeal is the subtle ode to Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner”, particularly the “duh-dah-duh-da’s.” Here’s the link to that song if you’d like to compare:


Star Trek: Into Darkness (WAR value: 6.6)

Benedict Cumberbatch is a bad, bad man. I loved so much about this film: how it looked, how the plot aligned, how it was acted. I quite enjoyed the first instalment of JJ Abrams’ reboot, but this one is warp speed beyond that one. The franchise has a great cast: Pine, Quinto, Soldana, Urban, Pegg, Cho, and Yelchin. I can’t wait to see what the next offering has up its sleeve.


7. Sky Ferreira – You’re Not The One/Heavy Metal Heart (WAR value: 9.2)

While a million-plus-one pop tarts do their tired take on dance-pop, Ferreira’s forked off and brought the rock back in pop-rock. Her sensational debut LP, My Time, Night Time, is a loud, pulsating, sexed up affair with nary a filler tune to be found. I was blown away when I first heard “You’re Not The One”. The guitar riff centres the song, simple but out-of-this world catchy. Ariel Rechtshaid’s production is flawless. When I first heard the entire album, I was floored by how consistent and immediate it was. I was hoping for the best, but sure there wouldn’t be anything to match the brilliance of the lead single. I was wrong. “Heavy Metal Heart” is a beast. Avril Lavigne can’t even dream of a song this good. Gaga would have a massive hit on her hands if this were on Artpop. The reality is, no one else has “Heavy Metal Heart” but Sky Ferreira. Even though she’s a relatively new artist, the song is invariably hers. “You make my heavy metal heart beat” is sung with such gusto, such energy, that you’d swear Ferreira’s heart is made of long, bleach-blonde hair, black leather, and power chords. Maybe it is. I wouldn’t rule anything out with this one.

You’re Not The One:

Heavy Metal Heart:


Anchorman 2 (WAR value: 6.9)

I loved this sequel. For as silly as some of the jokes might’ve been, I always got the sense that Ferrell and company were meticulous in choosing to keep the best ones. I loved David Koechner (Champ Kind). I loved chicken of the cave, even though I’ve never tried it. I loved how the team would occasionally beat jokes to death. The cameos were a lot of fun. I think it’s really tough to be consistently funny nowadays, and Ferrell, Adam McKay, et al have accomplished that here. I’d be more than down for a third instalment (although Ferrell, please do a Step Brothers sequel first, thanks).


6. Haerts – Wings (WAR value: 9.4)

I adore the funk out of this song. It was on heavy rotation from the first time I heard it. It screams 80’s. It’s right now. It’ll be around for a looooong time. It’s not simply that Nini Fabi’s vocal soars, it’s the palpable feeling of joy in being able to fly for the first time. It’s growing wings and lifting, dipping, ascending, cruising, feeling the wind course through your hair like it never has before, like it was never able to before. There is wonder in this experience. There is release. “Wings” is perfect from the first second, but if it wasn’t already so, it somehow gets even better at 3:44, when the music starts to shuffle, and birds can be seen in the distance, flying together, singing and dancing.


Side Effects (WAR value: 7.2)

If this had been released later in the year, the buzz around it would’ve been much larger. I loved the plot and the acting. There were a tonne of twists and turns, and the story is filled with deception, decoys, and ploys. It’s a meditation on the sad state of mass addiction to pharmaceuticals and the damning, horrifying prescribing of modern “medicine,” not to cure, remedy, or build health, but to suppress and sustain dependency. I liked each of the leads’ performance, but in particular, I thought Rooney Mara was fantastic. Steven Soderbergh has had a great run the past couple years and Side Effects is the best of a stellar recent bunch.

Side Effects