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:

My Favourite DJ + Siren Songs

It recently occurred to me that I really dig three commercial dance tracks from the last year or so. What’s the common denominator? All are sung by relevant, siren-voiced chanteuses, produced by DJ’s, and all have streamlined pulsating waves of EDM joy into pop gitch glory.

In the past, finding this type of song would have required some measure of effort on the part of the listener, as the tunes would’ve resided somewhere on the periphery of mainstream accessibility. Nowadays, dance music, in all its forms and machinations, is so ubiquitous that tracks like these are played regularly on all types of radio formats and can be found drawing hits on all manner of music blogs.

Jermaine-Dupri

Where the DJ + Siren style of song used to be a strictly remix-style venture, now, they’re flat out collabo’s (Jermaine Dupri just got a 75 cent royalty from me because I used the word collabo [another 75 cents] and he’s happy as a pig in dirt he’ll be able to eat dinner tonight). Ahh ha. Ahhhhh Ha!

Here are the three DJ + Siren songs from the past year that I so dig:

1) Florence Welch & Calvin Harris – Sweet Nothing

The chorus of “Sweet Nothing” is elite. When I first heard Florence Welch’s voice on “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”, I knew she’d be capable of lifting a dance track high up into the heavens. She’s accomplished that feat with aplomb here.

 

2) Ellie Goulding & Calvin Harris – I Need Your Love

It’s the verses that really get me on “I Need Your Love”, particularly the second one. This is a smash through and through.

 

3) Sia & David Guetta – She Wolf

Sia’s vocal absolutely dominates this track. The melody she creates with her voice is astounding. “She Wolf” is infinitely better than “Titanium”, and this, for me, is Guetta’s best track (possibly his only other good one) since “Love Don’t Let Me Go”.

 

The three tunes listed above are my current favourites, but by no means are Harris, Guetta, or the Sirens the progenitors of the style. When I look back at what’s been released over the past several years, another three tracks come to mind that helped build the Siren/DJ bridge into the Danyan-Kunshan style behemoth it is today.

Danyan Kunshan Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

1) Tiesto f. Tegan & Sara – Feel It In My Bones

Technically they’re two sirens, but they’re unfathomably harmonious, and twin sisters to boot, so I’m gonna let the backbone slide on this one. This track cannot get stale.

 

2) Royksopp f. Karin Dreijer Andersson – What Else Is There?

It may be a tad self-serving to describe Royksopp as DJ’s in the traditional sense, but I feel like they’re close enough, and I there’s no way in Hades I could fail to mention this absolute banger.

 

3) Gabriel and Dresden f. Molly Bancroft – Tracking Treasure Down

Quite possibly my favourite track from my favourite DJ’s.

 

Looking back even further, more branches of the DJ + Siren Family Tree become apparent as they woosh in the megawatt-speaker propelled wind. It’s interesting how the release of this type of track has developed. In the late 90’s, I started noticing that the M.O. of the style often saw a DJ, typically an up-and-comer, remixing a track from a well-established, mainstream star.

I know there are tracks that go back even further than the three I’ve listed below (the early 90’s Eurodance movement comes to mind, and of course, like all others, that scene has its own distinct lineage), but the following triumvirate had such a profound effect on me at the time of their release that I have to cite them as indomitable influencers. These songs still sound fantastic (over a decade later), and from a pop-cultural perspective, they clearly aroused a sensation in music fans/producers that has developed into a throbbing, unstoppable scene today. Here they are:

1) Madonna – What It Feels Like For A Girl (Above and Beyond 12″ Club Mix)

My god does this still sound absolutely brilliant 12 years later.

 

2) Whitney Houston – My Love Is Your Love (Jonathan Peters remix)

Whitney’s voice sounds impeccable on this massive dancefloor anthem.

 

3) Sarah McLahlan & Delerium – Silence (Tiesto’s In Search of Sunrise Remix)

Delerium and Sarah McLachlan are probably still buttering their bread because of this gargantuan hit.