As we all look forward to Sia’s forthcoming ‘1000 Forms of Fear’ album (due for release in July), the lead single “Chandelier” has been receiving widespread radio airplay. It’s quite fascinating for us long-term fans that it took her writing dance records for Flo Rida and David Guetta for many to appreciate her unique voice (both as singer and writer). The song itself has been reviewed everywhere, so let’s talk about the remixes that are beginning to surface. Out of the gate are takes by Liam Keegan and Hector Fonseca. To preface this, let’s just say that to a dance music producer, the song, with its musical structure and instrumentation, is a challenge to make work in a club setting. The original 87 BPM tempo is in that “hell tempo” range that remixers often find difficult.
Liam Keegan does a good job by keeping it at 122 BPM and going in a mellow house direction – like a Clean Bandit feel, with a bit more oomph. Hector Fonseca amped it up to 128 BPM and on first preview, I figured this tribal-oriented mix would be perfect for prime time play. Wow, I was surprised at what came through the loud speakers at the club – the stutter repeated vocals and beats are the closest thing to dissonance I’ve heard in a club record in a long time (going back to some of the more outre/experimental Jonathan Peters mixes from the late ’90s). If you have an adventurous ear (or an adventurous crowd) it could work, but a club kid even asked me if my mp3 was warped. (Those of us who remember vinyl realize how funny that concept is.) If you don’t already know the song, Sia’s vocals become almost meaningless, and you have to wonder why he tried to make a full vocal mix anyway, unless it was a contractual obligation. Hector’s Tribal dub works a lot better and reconciles the disparate elements together in a more aesthetically-unified fashion. It’s a good track that doesn’t sound like everything else, and that’s admirable given how similar so much of contemporary EDM is happy being. But the vocals and the track don’t fit together in a way that people can groove on (though pitching the mix down some does yield much more interesting results and does let Sia’s voice shine through rather than be hammered into chunks as it seems at 128).
As we await the rumored MK-inspired mix by Cutmore, I would encourage you to hunt down the exceptionally strong mix by Bit Error. The rising talent split the difference between Keegan and Fonseca by going in at 125 BPM, keeping the pretty pop feel and adding some tasteful electro in the mix. The vocals are so well done that it would work perfect for mixshows, and an edit would fit just about every dance radio station.
It is kind of wonderful when a pop song can inspire enough discourse to fill a dissertation. “Sexercize” is a dubstep-influenced pop song with overtly sexual lyrics that walk the fine line between playful and sleazy. The fact that it was written by Sia Furler makes me imagine that she and Kylie were drinking wine one night and were inspired to do a raunchy 2014 version of Olivia Newton John’s “Physical” as it would be performed by Rihanna or Beyonce. Is it pop or is it porn? Listening to the lyrics and watching the second version of the video (a hard-R Cinemax lesbian version of the “Physical” video) leans it more to the porn direction. Yet, somehow it seems somewhat classy amongst its sleaze (like maybe porn made by women for women) and that might be because a 45 year-old pop artist performing this material comes off differently than a 20-something R&B singer would. Some might say that this song and video smacks of the same desperation of 2010s era Madonna, pushing sex and drug references that are neither edgy or cool but lame and out of touch, but since this is the first material of this type from Miss Minogue, she gets a pass. It would be quite interesting to see if “Sexercize” gets expanded into a full 45-minute workout a la the infamous Eric Prydz “Call On Me” workout, as it would work perfectly as a warm up for the athletic pole dancing classes that seem to be de rigeur at gyms around the country.
As a DJ/blogger who usually filters through 300 tracks a week, it is sometimes easy to miss a gem during a quick preview. Unfortunately, that was the case when I first heard “Kamikaze” a few weeks ago. Released on Tiesto’s Musical Freedom label, the collaboration between Daniel LeDisko (LA Riots) and chanteuse Polina starts off a bit restrained before the dropdown to vocals and the build to big room electro. When you quickly scan through the track, it doesn’t scream for attention. However, at the suggestion of a fellow DJ, I went back and listened to it from start to finish and it really blew me away. Polina is a singer/songwriter (or what industry people call a topline writer), but with her recent releases she is becoming more and more of an artist, or how I described her- a chanteuse, in the vein of a Sia, Lana del Rey, or Sian (of Kosheen). The strength of her lyrics and performance transcend what you hear on a normal club track. La Riot also steps up his game with a surprise bit of trap after the second break which is raw and a bit disturbing, yet perfectly suited to the vocal themes and yes, the title. DJs who might have missed this when it was released earlier this month should go to Beatport and buy the download. If you are a fan of dance records with darker themes and dramatic vocal performances, like say “Summertime Sadness” or “Titanium,” this “Kamizake” would be a great addition to your mp3 player.