Render Unto Jim…

I’ve had it with remixes.

We started to hear a lot more of them after Moby‘s 1999 album Play got so much, um, play. Today I heard several new remixes of classic Doors songs by the famous likes of Paul Oakenfold and The Crystal Method. Nowadays, indeed, most every time you search the Internet for a certain famous or “classic” song you find remixes.

I never liked ’em much, and now I’m really tired of ’em. So many of them merely set samples from the song over boring dance tracks. What’s bad about that is not the chopping up of the originals but the loss of the chord changes. If you’re going to call it a remix, it should be a re-setting of the actual song. If you keep the melody and remove the chord changes, it’s not the song. A melody and its underlying chords are interdependent, and if you take one of them away, it doesn’t matter what else you add, you’re still left with not-the-song. (I know, a song can be sung a capella. But in that case the listener’s mind supplies the chords silently, or makes them up if the tune is unfamiliar.)

I have nothing against sampling of the sort we typically hear in rap and other mainstream music, that is, re-using another artist’s materials to make a new artistic statement. Nor have I anything against interpreting an old song in a radically new way. What I’m tired of is being told, “Check out my remix of [whatever]” and finding it’s merely the original song disemboweled.

2 thoughts on “Render Unto Jim…”

  1. I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Are people really doing simple straight “remixes” of classic songs? Most of what I’ve come across is what people call “mash-ups”, like this wonderful collection of tracks off Revolver mixed up with wonderfully unlikely other things. (In particular, check out the last two.) At its best this sort of thing is delightful, creating a new work that brings the old works back to life as well.

    Of course, for most of human history, this sort of thing is what art was.

  2. No, mash-ups are something else – that’s combining/layering multiple sources together. I’m talking about taking an existing recording of a recognizable song and re-setting it with a completely different backing, while losing the chord progression in the process. Like at the Doors link in the original post.

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