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State Of The Edit: Exploring Remix Albums & Culture In 2022
Madonna

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State Of The Edit: Exploring Remix Albums & Culture In 2022

From Madonna's 'Finally Enough Love' to Dua Lipa's 'Club Future Nostalgia,' pop icons are reinvigorating the art of the remix in 2022. But their efforts — or those of their producers — are just the latest in a decades-long artform and culture.

GRAMMYs/Aug 18, 2022 - 02:21 pm

Remixing singles, albums and catalogs became a standard part of major label marketing plans for pop stars in the ‘90s and 2000s. While the business practice is currently seeing resurgence, remix culture — the celebration of remixing as a true craft — has been continually appreciated on dancefloors worldwide.

Case in point: Michael Jackson’s Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. The 1997 remix album isn’t regularly referenced as a highlight in the late entertainer’s vast catalog — or even as one of the best examples of the remix format. But, more than 25 years after it was released, Jackson’s platinum-certified collection remains the biggest selling remix album of all time.

"That’s an amazing fact," English producer/remixer Terry Farley tells GRAMMY.com when informed of Jackson’s standing achievement. Under the name Fire Island, Farley remixed Jackson’s "Money" for Blood on the Dance Floor with his frequent collaborator Pete Heller. Although the duo didn’t have any contact with Jackson during the project, they were compensated well enough to be able to hire musicians to record new elements for remixes. That’s something Farley says is now only afforded to the top one percent of remixers.

"Some labels don’t even offer studio time money," Farley says of the current climate for commissioning remixes. "Most labels and DJs seem okay with this situation. It’s sad because back in the day, the better the desk, the better the sound."

Remix albums, like Dua Lipa’s Club Future Nostalgia, made a comeback during the pandemic. Club Future Nostalgia features remixes by a roster of in-demand international touring DJs/producers like The Blessed Madonna, Kaytranada (who won two GRAMMY Awards in 2021), Masters At Work, Dmitri From Paris, Mr. Fingers and Moodymann, plus cameos from the actual Madonna, Missy Elliott and Jamiroquai.

"It was the perfect opportunity to create something like this," Dua Lipa told GRAMMY.com in August 2020. "I had what felt like all the time in the world, and everyone's at home. It doesn't really happen so often that you get the opportunity to collaborate with all these incredible producers and artists. I think it was of-the-moment that I was able to snap everyone up, especially The Blessed Madonna, who would've been on tour by [that] time. This album really came to be because of the current climate."

A Connection To The Past

Remix albums can be a way to introduce younger listeners to unfamiliar genres as well as artists who have passed away, such as with the 2021 release of Nina Simone’s Feeling Good: Her Greatest Hits and Remixes on Verve Records. The collection is an extension of the classic jazz label’s Verve Remixed album series, which features remixes of songs by Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughn, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and other dearly departed stars.

Verve Remixed was created by Dahlia Ambach-Caplin, who was Verve’s international publicist at the time, and it remains the longest-running remix album series in America. Now, Ambach-Caplin is the SVP A&R for Verve, Verve Forecast and Impulse.

"We concocted the idea by witnessing the growing group of electronic producers who were using jazz in their music and [feeling that] we could bring songs of the catalog to a brand new audience," she tells GRAMMY.com. "The whole idea was to leave the songs as recognizable as possible so people would be drawn to hear the originals. We always released a companion album of originals in the same order and it sold well too. Everyone at the label was super open to keep revitalizing the catalog and electronic music was an area of growth with producers excited to jump in."

"When this series started the remix was still an ode to a vibrant culture – DJs, electronic and hip-hop," says Todd Roberts, Head of Music Publishing Creative at MNRK and Executive Producer of Verve Remixed with Ambach-Caplin from 2005-2013. "Now, I think 'remix culture' is unfortunately being led by lazy marketing executives looking to capture peripheral new trends in music."

Though there’s a lot of mediocrity to wade through in general, Roberts points to the remix work of artists like Kaytranada, DJ Koze and Moodymann as proof that there are still producers who view remix culture as a craft and a tradition to build on further. 

The concept of a big budget remix album will be back in the mainstream music spotlight with the August 19 release of Madonna’s Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones. The album contains 50 of her remixes that have topped the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart — a feat that hasn’t been replicated by any other recording artist on any Billboard chart —  some of which also appeared on her first remix album, 1987’s You Can Dance.

Finally Enough Love features a generationally and stylistically varied lineup of producers, including early remixers like Shep Pettibone, Junior Vasquez and David Morales, transgender house music producer Honey Dijon and the late Swedish DJ Avicii. Madonna’s last album, 2019’s Madame X, failed to go gold, but the nostalgic and career-spanning selection of Finally Enough Love coupled with the release coinciding with a host of 40th anniversary Madonna reissues might give it a better chance at earning higher sales. 

"Classics from Madonna’s catalog of remixes are always going to track better than her new music, I think," says Roberts. "Remarketing is free money for the labels essentially, whereas breaking new songs from an older artist is usually gonna be more work."

The Material Girl may already be on the way to having a summer blockbuster. A representative for Rhino Records told GRAMMY.com that pre-sales of the vinyl version of Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones sold out in less than 48 hours.

From Tools To Tracks

From slashing to clicking, the tools of remixing have evolved dramatically alongside technology. Today’s remixes are largely made by using software to manipulate digital audio files — a far cry from the razorblade-to-reel editing of the '70s and '80s, which could draw actual blood alongside the sweat and tears. The Latin Rascals (Albert Cabrera and Tony Moran) exemplified the stuttering, stop-and-go style of razor editing in the mid-80s. Highlights include the extended drum breaks in their reconstructions of songs like Bauhaus lead singer Peter Murphy’s solo song "Final Solution," Aretha Franklin’s "Freeway of Love" and their "Version Latina" of Pet Shop Boys’ "Opportunities."

The '90s level of remixing that Farley recalled often included recording entirely new musical elements and arrangements to lay on top of an existing work. This was exemplified by the first two winners of the GRAMMY Award for Remixer of the Year, Non-Classical (later changed to Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical): house music pioneers and long time Def Mix business partners Frankie Knuckles and David Morales.

Knuckles, who passed away in 2014, was widely known as the "Godfather of House" and was a prolific remixer in addition to a producer of his own music. Then and now, Frankie Knuckles remixes stand out as elaborate new studio arrangements of songs, often with the addition of live piano and new supporting vocals. In the year leading up to his 1998 GRAMMY Remixer of the Year, Non-Classical win for his "Franktidrama Club Mix" of Toni Braxton’s "Un-Break My Heart," Knuckles crafted elaborate new arrangements of songs  by Michael Jackson ("You Are Not Alone," for Blood on the Dance Floor), Janet Jackson, Chaka Khan and Mary J. Blige.

Morales — who won the golden gramophone for Remixer of the Year, Non-Classical in 1999 for his work with Mariah Carey — maintained an equally busy schedule of remixing. Carey was particularly hands-on in the remix process with Morales, who also won Album Of The Year in 1996 as a producer on Carey’s Daydream.

"When it came to remixing Mariah Carey's songs, we usually went in and re-sang the song," Morales told the Recording Academy in 2016. 

For Carey’s "Fantasy," for example, Morales disregarded the downtempo instrumentation of the original. Instead, he went into her studio to build a fresh club-ready backing song on her studio’s Sony digital multitrack machines.

"‘Fantasy’ was almost 80 tracks [of new sounds]," he noted. "I programmed my drums on drum machines and Satoshi Tomiie programmed keyboards on Vision software. Terry Burrus played live piano. First, I had to create the music for the remix, which really had nothing to do with the original version. Once that’s done then Mariah comes in and does what Mariah does: she vibes to the track and makes it happen. I did a couple of different versions of the remix so there's something special about all of them."

Back To The Edit

Since the Jamaican practice of making new versions and dubs of songs dates back at least to the '60s, Sean Combs drew international side eyes when he named his 2002 Bad Boy Records remix compilation We Invented The Remix. But the trend-savvy businessman then known as P. Diddy also sold enough copies for the collection to be certified platinum, opening the door to even more hip-hop and R&B remixes to follow.

"Remix culture is Jamaican soundsystem culture," Roberts says. "While I think any genre being remixed can qualify, it is an art and not easy."

Years later, even country music has a place in the current remix conversation. It’s a popular category for BPM Supreme, a Los Angeles company that offers a "record pool" of digital remixes and edits of songs for DJs and employs a network of remixers around the world. Country also serves as a remixing muse for buzzing groups such as England’s Flying Mojito Bros, who fashion old songs by country acts like Ronnie Milsap and Crosby, Stills and Nash into cosmic disco dance floor heaters.

The practice of remixing hasn’t slowed down, but in 2022, a shopper on a DJ-centric music site such as Beatport might find more tracks labeled as edits than remixes — though this refers to edits made on a computer instead of with a razorblade. 

That shift in terminology is perhaps fitting for the general effort and relative lack of larger investment that’s currently put into this craft. Though the era of big budget business-minded remixes may be past, remix culture will continue whether it’s within or outside of the gaze of the music business.

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Jackson Tops Dead Earners List

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Jackson Tops Dead Earners List
GRAMMY winner and Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Michael Jackson topped Forbes' annual list of top-earning dead celebrities with $275 million, earning more than the combined total of the other 12 celebrities on the list. Elvis Presley ranked second with $60 million, John Lennon placed fifth with $17 million and Jimi Hendrix tied for 11th place with $6 million. Forbes compiled the list based on gross earnings between October 2009 and October 2010. (10/26)

UK Arts Council Announces Budget Cut Plans
Following a previous report, Arts Council England has revealed plans to implement the 30 percent cut to the UK's arts funding budget. The cuts will include a 7 percent cash cut for UK arts organizations in 2011–2012, a 15 percent cut for the regular funding of arts organizations by 2014–2015 and a 50 percent reduction to the council's operating costs. (10/26)

GRAMMY Winners To Perform At World Series
GRAMMY winners Kelly Clarkson, Lady Antebellum and John Legend are scheduled to perform "The Star-Spangled Banner" during Major League Baseball's 2010 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers. Legend and Lady Antebellum will perform at games one and two in San Francisco on Oct. 27 and Oct. 28, respectively, and Clarkson will perform at game three on Oct. 30 in Arlington, Texas. (10/26)

 

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The Week In Music: Who Is The Fairest Of Them All?

GRAMMY ladies go head-to-head in the battle of the pretty

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

What are the attributes that make the perfect woman? Is it a camera-ready glow? Fashion sense? Intelligence? Sense of humor? Talent? An uncanny argumentative ability? Chances are the ladies making AskMen.com's Top 99 Women of 2012 list have all of the above, and much more. With actress/television personality Sofia Vergara topping a list containing the usual abundance of actresses, models and paparazzi favorites, current Best New Artist GRAMMY nominee Nicki Minaj led all female musicians at No. 5. Other GRAMMY nominees putting the "s" in scintillating in the top 20 include Rihanna (No. 9), Zooey Deschanel (No. 12), Katy Perry (No. 16), and Lady Gaga (No. 18). Other notables making the grade include Selena Gomez (No. 14), Beyoncé (No. 39) and even hot newcomer Lana Del Rey (No. 95). Of course, lists of this nature are always subjective. But if you're a female looking to get in on the competition, we invite you to sample some tips from our GRAMMY Glam Squad.

While Music's Biggest Night is just a week away, Indianapolis will take center stage on Feb. 5 when the New England Patriots and New York Giants battle it out in Super Bowl XLVI. While the staff at ESPN is busy crunching statistics for their exhaustive game coverage, musicians are chiming in with their official predictions. Not surprisingly, JoJo, who grew up in Foxboro, Mass., will be pulling for Tom Brady and the Patriots. "I just feel like we [will] win by default, because we have heart," said the songstress. Putting on his analyst cap, Nelly thinks the Giants defense will be too hot for the Patriots. "I think the Giants play a little bit better defense, and I just think defense wins championships in the end," he said. Theory Of A Deadman's Tyler Connolly is leaning toward the Giants, but don't quote him on it. "I guess I'll go with the Giants," said Connolly, a San Francisco 49ers fan. When it comes to the halftime entertainment, Connolly did not mince words, however. "In reality you need to think about who's actually watching the Super Bowl — it's big dudes eating nachos and drinking beer," said Connolly. "And they want to watch the commercials with the Doritos girls. … Madonna? They're not going to watch Madonna." While there are few things better than Doritos girls, we here at TWIM we'd definitely rather watch Madonna, while enjoying a side of nachos.

Speaking of the Super Bowl, following Elton John and Madonna's Golden Globes feud last month, the Rocket Man is reportedly turning over a new leaf in offering the Material Girl some advice for her upcoming halftime performance on Feb. 5. "Make sure you lip-sync good," John advised Madonna on "Good Morning America." "I've never seen a decent one. Never ever." While Super Bowl halftime shows have arguably become more about the spectacle instead of the performance, it's hard to tell if John's advice is sincere. In 2004 the tiny dancer's response to Madonna winning the Best Live Act honor at England's Q Awards was: "Madonna, best fing live act? F off. Since when has lip-syncing been live?" While much of the Super Bowl action will happen on the field this Sunday, there's no doubt there will be lots more to see between Madonna's halftime spectacular featuring LMFAO and Nicki Minaj, and John's Pepsi commercial, set to air during the big game.    

While Dave Grohl has long been known for his quirky sense of humor, evidenced by videos for Foo Fighters songs such as "Big Me" (Mentos, anyone?), "Everlong," "Learn To Fly," and, most recently, the GRAMMY-nominated "Walk," the Foos frontman is taking funny to a whole new, hopefully hysterical, level. According to a report, Grohl is teaming with comedian Dana Gould to executive produce a 30-minute sitcom for FX Networks. The show will reportedly center on a rock band that is in the midst of their big break, and a breakup. The band seeks help from a therapist, who ends up being broken herself. Did we say sitcom? This sounds like the makings of a perfectly good drama to us. But whatever the show turns out to be, we're sure it'll be a hit, given Grohl's vast voiceover experience in films such as The Muppets and television series including "Daria."

Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich lost the Florida primary Tuesday to Mitt Romney by a wide margin, but that may not be the worst news he got this week. Gingrich also joined the long list of politicians who have been sued for misappropriating a pop song for a campaign without the artist's permission. On Monday, Rude Music Inc., controlled by the song's co-writer Frank Sullivan, filed suit against Gingrich for his use of Survivor's GRAMMY-winning "Eye Of The Tiger" from Rocky III. Gingrich was clearly gunning for some Rocky Balboa magic now that he appears to be the underdog again, and the anthem's other co-writer, Jim Peterik, who hasn't joined the suit, says that's okay with him. "If it motivates people to get out to the polls and create some excitement, that's what it's for," he told the Washington Post. And while Chicago-native Peterik is loyal to his native son, President Barack Obama, he concedes, "I like [Gingrich's] taste in music." Still, as Rocky himself might ask, "Yo, don't I got some rights?"

Adele's "Set Fire To The Rain" is No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" is tops on the iTunes singles chart.

Any news we've missed? Comment below.                                                            

Last Week In Music

Follow GRAMMY.com for our inside look at GRAMMY news, blogs, photos, videos, and of course nominees. Stay up to the minute with GRAMMY Live. Check out the GRAMMY legacy with GRAMMY Rewind. Explore this year's GRAMMY Fields. Or check out the collaborations at Re:Generation, presented by Hyundai Veloster. And join the conversation at Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

The Week In Music: New Judges On The Block
Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson at a press conference for "American Idol" season 10

Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage.com

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The Week In Music: New Judges On The Block

"American Idol" redux leads The Week In Music

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

And your next "American Idol" judges are…"Jenny From The Block" and the man behind "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)." At a press conference on Wednesday, Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler were announced as the two new judges for season 10 of the revamped show. Contestants seemed to be brimming with sweet emotion regarding Tyler's new venture: "I'm super excited," said Kaeli Filpi, a contestant from Los Angeles. "My parents are all into '80s classic rock, so I'm a huge fan of him. I'm so excited." After nearly a decade with the predictably supportive Paula Abdul and skeptical Simon Cowell, viewers could be in for a pleasant change. How will J-Lo, Tyler and top dawg Randy Jackson fare? We'll find out when season 10 launches in January 2011.

Katy Perry is one California gurl that runs a little too hot for Bert and Ernie, Grover, Big Bird, Mr. Snuffleupagus, and the gang over at "Sesame Street." The show issued a statement saying it would not air a taped segment featuring Perry and everyone's favorite tickle buddy, Elmo, due to "feedback" they received. It appears Perry's wardrobe choice during her skit with Elmo and performance of "Hot 'N Cold" was deemed too revealing for the kids. A representative for Perry said the pop star enjoyed her time on the show. Elmo could not be reached for comment but did exclaim, "That tickles!" Meanwhile, the clip in question is available to view at Perry's website.

In real estate news, the last home of late Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia is up for sale. The asking price? A cool $4 million. The 11-acre, 7,000-square-foot Mediterranean-style estate is located in Marin, Calif., just north of the famed psychedelic rock act's San Francisco base. The previous owner renovated the house shortly after Garcia's death in 1995, selling many of the home's fixtures to raise money for charity, including the guitarist's…toilet. Heading just six hours south you'll find the residence of late heavy metal icon Ronnie James Dio up for grabs. The 5,000-square-foot, English Manor-style home located in Encino, Calif., is on the market for approximately $3.4 million. Amenities include new appliances, a pub bar, 200-year-old wood floors, five bedrooms, and five bathrooms featuring five toilets that can be potentially sold for charity.

Billboard reported that the Michael Jackson estate has entered a licensing deal with SEE Virtual Worlds to create an online virtual world, "Planet Michael." The planet will live inside the Entropia Universe, a massive, multiplayer online game that has approximately 100,000 active users. Game play will focus on Jackson's dance moves and reflect his belief in nonviolence, which will be seen as a departure from other online multiplayer games such as "World Of Warcraft." "With Michael Jackson, we're aiming at different game play," said Martin Biallas, SEE Virtual Worlds CEO. The "Bad" virtual world is slated to be unleashed in late 2011.

Speaking of games, the Huffington Post released its list of Game Changers, celebrating 100 innovators, visionaries and leaders across entertainment, technology and media, among other categories. The main criteria for being included on the list? A willingness to take a risk by saying, "I think I have a better way." The lone musician game changer is will.i.am., who knows how to get things started. Other notables include Kalpen Modi, who parlayed his role as Kal Penn in films such as Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle into a position with the White House and has participated in The Recording Academy's GRAMMYs on the Hill advocacy event; and Apple chief Steve Jobs, who started an iRevolution.

"Glee" kicked off its sophomore year this past Tuesday and the ratings sang to a tune of an impressive 12.3 million viewers. In the season's debut episode, the cast performed hits from Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and Lady Gaga. Of course, music and television have always fit together like peanut butter and jelly, evidenced by Billboard's list of top TV themes that have impacted the charts over the past three decades. Themes on the list include "Theme From The Dukes Of Hazzard (Good Ol' Boys) " by Waylon Jennings, "Theme From Greatest American Hero (Believe It Or Not)" by Joey Scarbury, "Moonlighting (Theme)" by Al Jarreau, "As Long As We Got Each Other" (theme from "Growing Pains") by Steve Dorff & Friends, and "I'll Be There for You" by the Rembrandts (theme from "Friends"), among others. Sadly, the theme to "Saved By The Bell: The College Years" did not make the cut.

After hosting the 82nd Academy Awards last year, actor/comedian/GRAMMY winner Steve Martin has gotten in the business of handing out awards himself with the creation of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. This year's inaugural award went to banjoist Noam Pikelny of the Punch Brothers, who received a cash prize of $50,000, funded by the Steve Martin Charitable Foundation. Pikelny was chosen by a group of board members, including Béla Fleck, Martin, Earl Scruggs, and Pete Wernick.

Elvis Costello is taking an old-school route with the release of four tracks off his forthcoming album, National Ransom, on a pair of 78 rpm discs. The GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter posted a semi-cryptic announcement on his website to alert fans of the limited releases. Details on pricing were not mentioned, but 25 pressings of the limited-edition releases will be made available, each of them personally autographed by Costello.

Bruno Mars' "Just The Way You Are" is tops on the Billboard Hot 100 while "Empire State Of Mind (Glee Cast Version)" holds the No. 1 spot on the iTunes singles chart.

Any news we've missed? Comment below.

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Last Week In Music
 

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Kelly Clarkson To Perform National Anthem On Super Bowl

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Kelly Clarkson To Perform National Anthem On Super Bowl
GRAMMY winner and 54th GRAMMY Awards performer Kelly Clarkson is set to perform "The Star-Spangled Banner" prior to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis on Feb. 5, according to a Billboard.biz report. GRAMMY winner Miranda Lambert and current GRAMMY nominee Blake Shelton will perform "America The Beautiful," and Madonna will be the featured performer during the halftime show. (1/12)