It's nice to see that Beyonce never tires of releasing just about every song off her album as a single. Fortunately for us, this means that (arguably) the best track, "End of Time," gets a slew of tasty remixes for dance floor consumption. Now DJ Ron and I have a few different takes on which of these mixes is good and deserves your time.
The official remix package includes a lot of big name but mostly atypical producers, names we'd not normally associate with a Beyonce project. Red Top is there, a welcome name among the crowd. The rest, while recognizable and enjoyable dance producers, get a chance to flex their muscles with this distinctively energetic pop/r&b track. For those of you who aren't familiar with "End of Time," it's a beat-driven, horn-infused romantic romp through a musical playground unlike any that Beyonce has given us before. Combining funk, soul, and a killer hook, "End of Time" challenges you not to become addicted. It's doubtful you'll succeed. It's a unique energy, a vibe that has to be felt deeply to appreciate but can flitter around you in passing if you don't have the time to immerse yourself. It's also an energy that is integral to the song's success, and in translating "End of Time" to the dance floor, it's imperative to maintain that energy or replace it with something equally as magical. This is where I begin to heavily scrutinize any remixed offering of the track.
There's a few different ways, in my opinion, that a remix should be scrutinized. Firstly, listenability. If a track isn't enjoyable to listen to, why would you even dance to it? Secondly, translation. How does the remix compare to the original? Some remixes butcher an original track so terribly, yielding a sad parody instead of a floor stomper (or in some cases, quite the opposite). Thirdly, movability. Does the mix make you want to dance? If you heard the mix at a club, would you dance or sit it out? That's three surefire categories to help quantify the success of a remix. So, with "End of Time", how do the mixes hold up? As I stated earlier, Red Top comes back to work some more magic, but joining him are The Wideboys, Manny Lehman, Cutmore, and Wawa. It's a distinctively UK batch of mixes. Here are our ratings of each:
Ben - Listenability - 2.5/5. It's monotonous, I wouldn't put this on my iPod. Translation - 3.5/5. The horns muted but still included and elements of the percussion still live on. Movability - 4/5. The beat is great and I feel this mix would definitely get people moving in a club. It's got just enough attitude to get Beyonce fans moving.
Ron - Wawa really seems to be hit and miss lately with some amazing high and some horrible lows. This would be a low because the mix sounds nothing like them. It sounds like a dated europop take (maybe "Doop" era) of the "Me No Speak Americano" swing sound. Horribly dated, and hopefully the last time Wawa will attempt a mix in this style.
Ben - Listenability - 2/5. I like Cutmore, but after a couple listens this begins to sound like a tacky Cascada rip off. Translation - 3/5. Standard house mix, nothing thrilling, keeps some of the horns but goes for a "safe" translation rather than something more interesting. Movability - 3.5/5. That tacky beat, depending on the energy in the room, might actually make me sit down rather than shake my ass.
Ron - Schizophrenia never sounded so good. Just as you are getting into a Sugababes/Saturdays minor key vibes pop remix, the Tourette's kicks in with bursts of randomly sprinkled electro bits. While it's a mix that I would never play, I give it credit for the WTF factor.
Ben - Listenability - 1/5. Overbearing circuit remix attacks! Translation - 2/5. Nothing to see here, folks. Keep looking, because while all of the lyrics are present, the energy is gone. Pitfall of the circuit genre. Movability - 5/5. Circuit has survived this long because the genre has a great way of shoving as many beats into every moment as possible, so even though I loathe the genre on principle, I can admit when the beat makes me want to move.
Ron - Yawn. This is the same late 90s tribal style that hasn't ever progressed. I could probably pull out Manny's mix of "What It Feels Like For A Girl" and perfectly overlay the two. Then again, if you are at a circuit party tweaking on something illegal, this kind of nonsense is probably fierce.
Ben - Listenability - 5/5. This is what I'm talking about! Awesome musicality on this one, definitely jam this out while I'm walking around the city. Translation - 5/5. Red Top have always done a great job reinterpreting Beyonce songs and this mix that has one finger on the pulse of Michael Jackson's classics and another on just the right notes to emphasize the emotion in Beyonce's words. Movability - 2/5. Sadly this slower track isn't ideal for the dancefloor, except with the right audience. While I would dance my ass off, I might be Dancing On My Own.
Ron - Stylistically, Red Top does a brilliant mashup blending 70s disco pop with 80s-era Stock Aiken Waterman-esque cowbells and syncopated handclaps. The vocals fit and this remix feels like it could be the original version of the song.
Ben - Listenability - 2/5. Stadium electro warps the track in a way that I can't see myself itching to listen to this in the future. Translation - 1/5. I really feel Wideboys totally missed the magic of the original in their rendition here. Movability - 3.5/5. I can see that this track would get asses shaking, but the part where it shines the most is when they remove Beyonce's voice all together. Their mix would be a really awesome instrumental track, and I'd dance to it just the same.
Ron -- I will be the first to admit that I am Wideboys junkie and have unwittingly played several of their remixes and tracks back to back. With that being said, the past year of Wideboys remixes have been hit and miss for me - varying between orgasm and just laying there. With this mix, the boys blow it out of the park - blending the best of their trademark repetitive loops with influences of the dirty dutch sound that R3hab and Chuckie have brought to the mainstream. It's as if the four of them (Ed, Jim, R3hab and Chuckie) hooked up and birthed this amazing monster. The energy is sickening. Yeah, the vocals are sped up to hell in places but it doesn't really bother me as I am not the biggest Beyonce fan in the world and the uplifting message is still in place. This remix was the first track I played for 2012 after "Auld Lang Syne" and it set the tone for an amazing year.
While we are on the topic of Beyonce and crackhead tracks, take a listen to the new Major Lazer "Original Don" track. If the pattern holds, I bet you can add some reductive sexist tripe on top of it and it will probably be the lead single from the upcoming "Five" album when Beyonce recovers from her pregnancy in 2014.