By Stephanie Hyde | October 25, 2021
A song remix often brings the expectation that it should meet or exceed the level of the original. A remix should completely reinvent a song instead of just adding a new verse from a bigger artist and keeping all the other verses from the original artist the same. Lately, song remixes have lost their creativity because they have turned into a marketing technique to move the original song up the Billboard Hot 100 chart by adding a verse from a popular artist. Instead of using the same formula to make a remix, an artist should place a stronger emphasis on making music from an authentic place of collaboration.
The Remix Phenomena
Within the first few seconds, a remix should provide a distinct new sound. Nowadays, a remix is harder to discern from the original because a new verse doesn’t come until later in the song. Part of this problem is the willingness to sacrifice originality in order to boost song recognition by adding a popular artist to a remix. The trend has now turned into creating a remix for every popular song.
Sometimes, creating a remix with guest appearances can help make a song sound more complete. For example, when Capella Grey added Chris Brown and Popcaan to a remix of his hit song “Gyalis,” the song now sounds less unfinished because the original song is only 1:45 while the remix is 3:15 in duration. Other times, a remix is meant to elevate the popularity of a song. “Essence” by Wizkid featuring Tems easily became the 2021 song of the summer especially as people spent more time outside. With the song’s growing popularity, Justin Bieber reached out to Wizkid’s management to be on the remix. According to Rolling Stone, it was an organic process out of love rather than trying to score another popular hit. But the real question is did the song really need a remix? While Justin Bieber is the go artist for most remixes, it still felt unnecessary because the song was already doing numbers on its own. Wizkid, who already is an Afrobeats superstar, intentionally put up-and-coming artist Tems on the record to elevate her artistry. More recognition should be given to the fact that an R&B song created by two Afrobeats artists became a part of the mainstream rotation of music before a remix. Justin Bieber already had success working on original material with Jamaican producer BEAM on “Love You Different” and Burna Boy on “Loved By You” from his “Justice” album. Bieber should continue to make original music with other artists outside of his normal pop genre rather than always creating remixes of another artist’s hit song. Right now, there is more room for innovative artist collaborations rather than repeating the same formula of getting on an already popular song. While the remix continues to be celebrated, the original version of “Essence” is the real winner.
One of the difference makers when creating a remix is an organic relationship between the artists on the song. As “Levitating” by Dua Lipa became one of the hit singles off of her sophomore album “Future Nostalgia,” adding DaBaby was a power move. But because DaBaby made homophobic comments during his recent Rolling Loud Miami performance, Dua Lipa removed his name credit from their song. This also prompted many radio stations to stop playing the remix and music streaming platforms to remove it from their playlists. With all the controversy, it raised questions about how genuine their relationship was. At the time, it made sense to bring two popular artists together to elevate a popular song. While the “Levitating” remix with DaBaby peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, both artists will probably never work together again as they no longer publicly associate with each other.
A strong relationship can lead to more opportunities to make timeless music together. For example, Ariana Grande and The Weeknd, continue to keep an excellent track record of successful collaborations from “Love Me Harder” to “Save Your Tears (Remix)” and “Off the Table” because they continue to strengthen their creative relationship with every new song they make. Now, the “Save Your Tears (Remix)” is even more popular than the original as it became The Weeknd’s sixth number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The continuous demand of releasing a remix with a verse from a well-known artist has dimmed the artist's recognition from their original song. BIA, an up-and-coming female rapper, mentioned during an Instagram Live session with Nicki Minaj that her label pressured her to put out a remix of her hit song “Whole Lotta Money” with a well-known artist. If one song is already successful on its own, the focus should not be on just keeping one song successful. Instead, the focus should shift into creating another smash hit instead of overworking a song that continues to get more popular by itself.
A public co-sign from an established artist would do more for an original song than a remix would. When Rihanna posted an Instagram post of her walking to “Best on Earth” by Russ featuring BIA, the video received over 26 million views. The recognition helped the song grow immensely to become a platinum-selling record with over 1,000,000 units sold. Bad Bunny and J Balvin mentioned in an interview with Complex that every song does not need a remix. This opinion comes from two artists who find themselves in a genre that often adds American artists to popular Spanish hit songs. While using a popular artist adds an element of inclusivity by bringing in new listeners, it still leads to an oversaturation of music. If an artist is talented enough to create a hit record, their original efforts should be celebrated, not by adding a big name.
The music industry needs more organic collaboration between artists. Authentic collaborations will create more substantial work and bring an increased feeling of community. Even more so, a remix should be a fun, creative challenge to rework the song with a completely different sound rather than adding verses. Similar to how an artist has to figure out the best way to incorporate a sample into their song, they should also use the same technique to elevate the level of their remixes. A reenergized level of work will continue to bring more excitement to music.