Big-Name Remixes: The Sound Of Labels’ Panic Buttons Ringing?


Britney Spears’ “Till The World Ends,” the Ke$ha-penned second single from her album Femme Fatale, hasn’t been out for very long. (Six weeks, give or take.) But already there’s a splashy remix of the tune featuring both Ke$ha and Brit’s future tourmate Nicki Minaj, who seems particularly energized here, stretching and bending her voice like it’s a Plasticman doll while making reference to fried chicken and Ricki Lake. (There’s also a fantastic little breakdown near the song’s two-thirds point that adds just the right amount of aural intrigue to the proceedings.) Will this added starpower elevate “World” to the top spot on the Hot 100? Well, it worked for the last two singles that have been No. 1 following the weeks-long reign of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”

Both Katy Perry’s t.A.T.u.-biting “E.T.” and Rihanna’s amped-up Lina Santiago rip “S&M” saw their chart futures rise after releasing versions of their songs that were aided by Kanye West and Spears, respectively. Time for a tale of the tape! Or the ProTools file, anyway.

Katy Perry, “E.T.”
Original release date: August 17, 2010 (digital pre-album release)
Chart peak before remix release: No. 42
Remix release date: Feb. 16
Guest star: Kanye West
Chart peak after remix release: No. 1 (chart released April 1; bumped “Born This Way” from top spot)

Rihanna, “S&M”
Original release date: January 21 (radio release; Loud was available digitally on November 12, 2010)
Chart peak before remix release: No. 2
Remix release date: April 11
Guest star: Britney Spears
Chart peak after remix release: No. 1 (chart released April 22; bumped “E.T.” from top spot)

Britney Spears, “Til The World Ends”
Original release date: March 4
Chart peak before remix release: No. 8 (current)
Remix release date: April 25
Guest stars: Nicki Minaj, Ke$ha
Chart peak after remix release: TBD

In a way, these cut-and-paste remixes are about half a step removed from the “duets sung by two people who were probably never in a room together” trend that dominated so much of pop last year (see: “Airplanes,” “Love The Way You Lie,” “Magic”). A control-c here and a control-v there and voila, you’ve got a new pop song, and as a bonus all that cross-pollinization maximizes cross-demographic incentives to listen in–sure, you might not like Britney, but don’t you love Nicki? Or if not her, Ke$ha? It’s vaguely reminiscent of the period in the early ’00s when some combination of Ja Rule, Ashanti, Fat Joe, and Jennifer Lopez seemed to be atop the charts at all times, only this time there’s a little bit more blurring of genre boundaries–and a lot more women serving as both main course and ornamentation.

Of course, there seems to be a bit of desperation on the bit of the people masterminding these remixes–it all has a Pop’s Last Stand feel of sorts, with the few people remaining in the limelight clustering together and holding on to one another for, if not dear life, at least holding up the illusion of invincibility. We’ll probably know whether or not this is a real, live, industry-wide trend if Beyoncé and Lady Gaga–whose latest singles, released last week, are languishing on the iTunes Store’s singles chart at Nos. 21 and 14, respectively–join in. At the very least, if they decided to help each other out, B’s overstuffed “Run The World (Girls)” could turn into something as vexingly earwormy as the rework of “Video Phone” that somewhat unfairly sank like a stone in late 2009.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 25, 2011

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