When I was reading Breckenridge’s article, music is what first came to my mind. In particular, songs that have been (literally) remixed by different artists. Trap and dubstep are two of my guilty pleasures, and I bask in the genius of those who spend their time remixing popular songs into something new. Currently, my obsession is Mike Posner and the remixes that have been done of his songs. The remix of the song “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” is done by SeeB (there are curse words in this version, I couldn’t find an unedited, legally posted version of the song. See below for similar examples of his):
(Ibiza is an island in the Mediterranean sea that’s known for it’s clubbing and nightlife scene and electronic music. It’s the place where Orlando Bloom punched Justin Bieber.)
But now listen to the original song:
The two versions inspire different feelings. The remix has almost all of the original lyrics in it, but the beat it is put to doesn’t give the impression of being somewhat tragic. But when I listened to the original song, I felt incredibly sad.
In fact, Mike Posner addressed the irony of the remix of his song becoming popular in an article he wrote for Observer Culture. He wrote: “To add to the irony, the talented Norwegian duo SeeB remixed and re-appropriated the song into an Ibiza-worthy club anthem. How can a song with depressing lyrics like ‘I took a pill in Ibiza to show Avicii I was cool, and when I finally got sober felt ten years older,’ be the soundtrack to partygoer’s tequila shots and sparkler-draped champagne bottle delivery?”
The song started as a ode to his used-to-be career (“I’m just a singer who already blew his shot”) and worked as a type of warning to those who were seeking fame. And now the song has brought back his “fame” and is celebrated as a nice dance song. Because, hey, if nothing else, the remix is a catchy beat. But we don’t always listen to the words when we hear songs for the first few times. Which, as Posner writes, is why he intentionally left his tracks with little instrumentals: to emphasize the words that he feels are the truth. There are two other songs of his that have been remixed from their original. And both have a different “feel” from the original songs. The original tracks have few instruments and there is an emphasis on the vocal and lyrics, which, as mentioned before, was an intentional choice of the artist.
As Breckenridge argues, it’s important to not just recognize that something has been remediated, but how the remediation process works. To do so, Breckenridge writes we must “interpret the most important ideas from the original text” and transfer “them in such a way as to give new meaning to the interpretation without misrepresenting the original.” With that in mind, we look back at the remixes of Mike Posner. The most important idea in the original song would be that the things we associate with fame are not actually as glamours as we may be led to believe. It’s a testament to what happens after fame. As such, we then look towards the remix. While the remix does have almost all of the lyrics still in the song, the meaning is not the same. The beat and the intentional composition that put emphasis on the words is gone, and we are left with another song that we can dance to and enjoy without thinking too much. (Isn’t that the purpose of popular music, anyway?)
I can do nothing but conclude, then, that while the intent of the reproduction/remediation of “Ibiza” is catchy, and I literally cannot get it out of my head, it misrepresents the original text it came from.
(As a footnote, when I was doing research, I found this website that lets the artist and the general public annotate song lyrics. The page to “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” is here and so incredibly interesting.)