You can’t rush perfection, and as these remixes and covers prove, sometimes you can’t even manage it yourself.
I can already feel the hate comments, glares, and side-eyes coming as I type this article, but the fact still remains: sometimes, your favorite artist’s song is better sung by someone else. For all the purists out there, I hear where you’re coming from, trust me. I will downright engage in fisticuffs with ANYONE who tells me one of Michael Jackson’s songs is better done by someone else. But as music-lovers, sometimes we must admit that messing with a good thing only produces a GREAT thing.
10. “Girlfriend” by *NSYNC ft. Nelly (Remixed by The Neptunes)
I remember my 7th grade self FREAKING OUT when my future husband (Justin Timberlake) and babydaddy (Nelly) popped up on the radio in the SAME SONG! The song was already dope when we first heard it on what is arguably *NSYNC’s best album, “Celebrity,” but it was a certified hit once The Neptunes and Nelly got a hold of it. While it didn’t work out between me and JT, or Nelly, for that matter, it definitely worked out to put them on the same track.
9. Girlfriend” by B2K feat. R. Kelly
Maybe it’s something about that song title that makes for a mediocre song. A total boy band fanatic in seventh grade, I was all about B2K. This was probably my least favorite B2K song until the Pied Piper got a hold of it. Not only did he add some grown ‘n’ sexy to the tone, he sped it up and gave it a little bounce. Lil’ Fizz’s flow at the breakdown was an additional lively touch, and it made the song (which had about six more remixes) a personal fave from my boys.
8. “I’m a Flirt” by R. Kelly feat. T.I and T-Pain
You know your song was “meh” when you have to add another verse at the end because the feature on your remix MADE the song, and that’s exactly what Robert did. T.I.’s verse was a fun little mix-in, but T-Pain just killed it.
7. “This is Why We Hot (Blackout Remix)” by MIMS feat. Cham And Junior Reid
I’m a sucker for an island beat. Mixing up the banger “This is Why We Hot” with a riddimic vibe was the perfect addition to an already fire (ha) song. Waiting for the bullhorn sound in the middle of the song became a regular activity when listening to the radio, and it was always super disappointing to hear the original version.
6. “Lean Back” by Terror Squad feat. Lil’ Jon, Eminem, and Mase
The first one was whack. I’m saying it so you don’t have to. This song was about something most people can’t relate to – dancing really gently so as to not set off the gun in your pants, and no one really understood that until the remix came out and Eminem flat out said it. The remix was so good, in fact, that radios stopped playing the original altogether.
5. “I’m Goin’ Down” by Mary J. Blige
Originally recorded and released by Rose Royce in 1976, Mary J. Blige put her soulful spin on the song in her 1994 cover. We love Mary for so many reasons: her little dance shuffle walk thingy, her one eye, and her songs about being hurt. Whoever chose this song for her to cover did an excellent job not touching the actual music itself, but letting Mary do her thing vocally (and getting rid of the awkward crying bridge in the original song).
4. “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye
Many people don’t know it, but Marvin Gaye was actually the third artist to record and release this song as a single. Legendary composers Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong penned the song for Gladys Knight and the Pips who released it in 1967, then Smoky Robinson and the Miracles recorded and released the song in early 1968…only to have Marvin come in and release it in October of the same year. Marvin’s cover was such a hit that it stayed at the top of the Billboard pop singles chart for seven straight weeks and became the biggest hit single on the Motown label for that time period!
3. “Come Together” by Michael Jackson
Someone is gonna fight me on this, but in the words of NeNe Leakes, “I said what I said!” The original song by the Beatles is a classic, no doubt. But the remastered cover, with louder, sharper vocals and instruments by the King of Pop is a cover to reckoned with.
2. “Walk This Way” by Run DMC
You know someone smashed a remix when the original artist doesn’t even get credited as the song’s composer – even though they’re still on the track. This is what happened with “Walk This Way.” TBH, I didn’t know there was an original for years. I wasn’t until I tried to download the song and was left waiting for record scratches that I had to educate myself. The first one was amazing, no doubt, but hip hop and rock just have an unquestionably magical relationship that was captured on this record.
1. “Ignition (Remix)” by R. Kelly
This is our generation’s quintessential remix song. You’d forgotten that the first “Ignition” was even a song, huh? Same here, and for good reason. When I even think of the word “remix,” in my heard I immediately hear, “Now usually I don’t do this…”
I wasn’t even supposed to be listening to secular music, let alone any songs off of the hypersexual “Chocolate Factory” album, but I knew all the words to the “Ignition” remix simply from hearing all my schoolmates sing it at lunch, in the hallways, on the bus…really anywhere. Fifteen years later, the party still turns up to the sound of people singing to the top of theirs lungs when this song comes on.