Good song? Remix it.

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The Internet has facilitated the constant challenging and reinterpretation of norms which define today’s era. In previous artistic periods, it was easier to characterize distinct trends in movements in different regions of the world because challenging boundaries was bold, special and gradual.

It is well-known that the Internet has connected us globally and at a rapid pace. Moreover, it has facilitated experimentation, giving rise to fusions of old and new and the reinterpretation of pre-established ideas.  This concept of fusion is particularly visible in the rise of remixes in music. Music of varying genres and cultures come together as they are unified by their pulsating beats and melody modifications.

I have had recent difficulty in settling for the original of a song. I suspect that this restlessness comes from the influence of databases such as YouTube, which showcase millions of individuals intent on creating something new and exciting. Many individuals act on an impulse to put their original stamp on their favorite songs to see if they can make them even more enthralling, giving rise to a “DJ culture.” Take the song “Blue Jeans” by Lana del Ray. Sure, her original has the most views on Youtube, but when browsing subsequent pages you find over a hundred remixes of the song. Not all of these mixes are successful, but with such a variety of blends and a commitment to the search, it is likely you will find something that is truly fantastic.

One of the most enjoyable components of being a musician is interpreting the music. DJs also express these interpretations by blending the sounds of various musicians together to deliver a distinctive musical message. Passive listening is obsolete, people use their enjoyment of originals as inspiration to make renditions. With tools like Garageband and Soundcloud, people do not have to play an instrument, read music or have access to heavy equipment to experiment with a song’s potential. Opportunities for universal musical creativity have never been so imminent, nor has the opportunity to experience music in a dynamic way.

A song’s versatility has become as important as its quality in determining its success. It makes sense that current hits, today, often start with simple, pleasant melodies that lend themselves to a variety of sound and rhythmic layering. People can act upon a simple framework in endless ways, as with markers and a coloring book. Creativity with details can be just as groundbreaking as completely new foundations. People are likely to experiment on a template that remains constant, but that is not to neglect other forms of musical creativity that reformulate these foundations entirely.

Within the world of pop music, we find the type of creativity where people use an existing template and experiment with the details. How exciting it is to be part of an era where music is an interactive experience, where top songs are not just appreciated but are experimented on within our culture of DJs.

Here is a list of original songs and their remixes that I enjoy:

1. “Blue Jeans,” original by Lana del Rey, remix by RAC

2. “On the Radio,” original by Regina Spektor, remix by Sub Swara

3. “Chan Chan,” original by Buena Vista Social Club, remix by Checkbox

4. “Heads Will Roll,” original by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, remix by A track

5. “Sabali,” original by Amadou & Mariam, remix by Uproot Andy

6. “Crystallized,” original by the XX, remix by Edu Ibernon

7. “We No Speak Americano,” original by Yolanda and Dcup, remix by Nick Thayer

8. “Kids with Guns,” original by the Gorillaz, remix by Hot Chip

9. “When I’m Small,” original by Phantogram, remix by RAC

10. “One day / Reckoning Song,” original by Asaf Avidan, remix by Wankelmut

11. “Abrazame,” original by los Rakas, remix by Uproot Andy

12. “Finally Moving,” original by Pretty Lights, remix by AudibleAudioArt

13. “Infinity,” original by the XX, remix by Bruno Be

14. “Paper Planes,” original by M.I.A, remix by DFA

Featured image courtesy of Boris van Hoytema/Flickr.

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