What makes a good remix? Not just shifting a song to fit a genre, but producing a track that surpasses the original? There are many ways to remix a song, but to actually produce a remix that is better than the original is more than just auto-tune or a well-timed goat. A good remixer essentially pulls off a musical reboot, reworking the raw musical elements presented before them in just the right way to create an EDM remix that eclipses the original. Basically, these artists walk in, smash your Hydrox cookies, and then give you infinitely superior Oreos.
Tove Lo-“Habits (Hippie Sabotage Remix)”
Sometimes, it’s as simple as a change of perspective to produce a good remix. Take Tove Lo’s “Habits”, a bittersweet song about partying, heartbreak, and chemical dependency. I love “Habits”, but it’s hard to party to a song whose music video is inspired by Requiem for a Dream.
Speed up the beat, raise Tove Lo’s pitch, and take out the lines about DILFs and orgy-watching, and you’ll have Hippie Sabotage’s remix of “Habits”, which has twice as many YouTube views as the original — 439 million vs 196 million, respectively.
Hippie Sabotage leaves in just enough lines to convey that this is a song about getting high, but not why you get high. Basically, the remix is in denial, the original has hit rock bottom.
Lana Del Rey- “Summertime Sadness (Cedric Gervais Remix)”
In that same collapsed vein, you have Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness”, a song that’s perfectly acceptable for marching out into the sea. That’s not a joke; the music video is about a girl jumping off a bridge.
Cedric Gervais however takes this honest to the Drowned God siren song and turns it into one of the best dance tracks ever. Cedric Gervais’ remix of “Summertime Sadness” essentially boosted Lana Del Rey’s career, prompting listeners to check out the original after listening to the ubiquitous remix. To quote The Chainsmokers’ “#SELFIE”: “It’s not even Summer, why does the DJ keep on playing ‘Summertime Sadness’?”
What’s crazy is that Cedric Gervais’ remix won the 2014 Grammy for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical, an award that is given to the remixer, not the original artist. To clarify: Lana Del Rey has zero Grammys. Cedric Gervais has one.
Skrillex– “Ease My Mind (ft Niki & The Dove)“
Oftentimes, these remixes cherry pick the best aspects of songs that would’ve gone completely unnoticed otherwise. For instance, “Ease My Mind” by Skrillex is my favorite Skrillex track, specifically because it doesn’t sound like a typical Skrillex track.
This is not a coincidence, as “Ease My Mind” is built off of “DJ, Ease My Mind” by Niki & The Dove. This is not a simple shift in tempo, but Skrillex robocopping the hell out of what would’ve otherwise been a track lost to time. Listening to the lazy drum beat of the original, it’s easy to see why Skrillex chose to exhume it, adding in rises, falls, base-drops, and an exotic beat that just perfectly accentuates Niki & The Dove’s haunting vocals.
Perhaps that’s the trick to good remixes, they exhume their original tracks, paying proper respect, while simultaneously retrofitting them into something shiny and cool. These remixes are how DJs cover other artists, taking something that’s already dope in its own right, and playing the original artists words, in their own words no less, through beats and base drops.