What A Difference A Remix Makes

What A Difference A Remix Makes

tori amos
Tori Amos. Photo by Niels van Iperen/Getty Images.

Whether it’s a single being freshened up for re-release, an album track being given a new direction when lifted as a single or a radical club makeover given to a non-dance record, remixes have been responsible for turning many songs into hits. Songs like these…

"West End Girls" by Pet Shop Boys

First recorded with hi-NRG producer Bobby Orlando – a personal hero of the synthpop duo – Pet Shop Boys' "West End Girls" gained some attention in clubs, but was only released in the UK on import and peaked outside the top 100. Re-recorded with Stephen Hague, the song gained a fuller, more lush production that helped propel it to the number 1 spot in both the UK and the US, and the Australian top 5.

"Take On Me" by a-ha

The evolution of the Norwegian trio’s debut single is a lengthy one, with the inception of the song’s synth hook dating back to Magne Furuholmen’s mid-teens when he came up with it. Initially recorded in 1984 and released in October of that year, the first version of "Take On Me" peaked at number 3 in Norway. But it wasn’t until the song was revamped by producer Alan Tarney – and the iconic part-animated music video released – that the song took off.

"Tom’s Diner" by Suzanne Vega

Two versions of Tom’s Diner bookended Suzanne Vega’s 1987 album, Solitude Standing, but it was the opening a cappella track that caught the attention of production duo DNA, who paired it with a beat taken from a Soul II Soul record. Rather than sue, Suzanne’s record company struck a deal to release the bootleg remix officially, with the new version of "Tom’s Diner" becoming the folk singer-songwriter’s only top 10 single in Australia.

"Shocked" by Kylie Minogue

On her third album, Rhythm Of Love, "Shocked" was an uncharacteristically lengthy track with a substantial instrumental intro before the vocal kicked in – unlike anything else Kylie Minogue had released during her time with Stock Aitken Waterman. Reworked by DNA into a tighter 7-inch edit, with a rap by Jazzie P added in the middle, the single version of “Shocked” became her ninth ARIA top 10 hit.

"U R The Best Thing" by D:Ream

If at first you don’t succeed, keep re-releasing until you do. The debut single by the dance act best known for “Things Can Only Get Better” was initially released in 1992 and then again in 1993. But it was the remix by the Perfecto team of Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne issued in 1994 that finally turned “U R The Best Thing” into a success – D:Ream’s second (and final) top 10 hit in Australia.

"Cruise Control" by Headless Chickens

It was also third time lucky for this New Zealand hit from 1991 that charted locally on its third release – and with its third mix. The original 1991 version of "Cruise Control" fit into the UK indie-meets-dance vibe of bands like EMF and Jesus Jones, while the Eskimos In Egypt remix that finally brought the song into the Australian top 40 in 1994 (following an unsuccessful 1992 UK remix) was more of a synth-pop track.

"Missing" by Everything But The Girl

The original version of this track from the British duo’s eighth album was in-keeping with their previous output: a low-key, acoustic-leaning tune. But after Todd Terry got his hands on it, "Missing" became a club favourite and then a global mega-hit, providing Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt with a whole new musical direction to explore on subsequent releases.

"Professional Widow" by Tori Amos

This track from Tori Amos’ 1996 Boys For Pele album underwent even more of a major transformation thanks to remixer Armand van Helden, who took the harpsichord-based rock track, retained very little of it and came up with a funky floor filler, underpinned by a bass riff and a couple of vocal snippets from Tori’s original. A prime example of how a remix can sometimes become basically an entirely different song.

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