8

Several songs have substantially been more popular in a remixed version than as an original. I'm thinking specifically of R Kelly's "Remix to Ignition", Fatboy Slim's remix of Cornershop's "Brimful of Asha" and the chart topping LVX remix of Elvis' "A Little Less Conversation".

What is the top charting remix to outperform its original?

5

If a remix by the same band would count, then Frankie Goes to Hollywood - 'Relax' might take some beating.

The original recording did almost nothing on either side of the Atlantic, yet the remix became the 7th best-selling single in UK history.

Apparently, the only remaining 'samples' from the original in the remix are some vocals & a 'splash' sample.

Original -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVJMMT9nXRI

More famous Remix -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp2h5jslKY

  • Was the "original" actually released? The link above goes to a live demo, and the Wikipedia article doesn't indicate any actual released recordings prior to the one that charted. – Chris Sunami May 5 '15 at 13:26
  • It may have only been limited numbers, and there were, in fact several versions of increasing complexity before the final 'hit'. That's the only reference I have to the first version. By the first 12" vinyl I ever owned, sometime mid-late '03, the bassline had become the one we're more used to, but it still wasn't the version we know best. A friend of mine at the time had several different versions, long before it kicked off on radio play. – Tetsujin May 5 '15 at 13:38
  • One thing about the entire ZTT 'thing' was the sense of mystique they tried to surround everything with. Deliberately releasing numerous white labels, re-recording, re-mixing constantly, stirring the press with rumours etc. It wasn't all just Trevor Horn & his eccentricities, Paul Morley was a great spin-doctor. My partner used to work there, but in the later days, so all this is hearsay of hearsay, but at least somewhat close to the source. – Tetsujin May 5 '15 at 13:50
4

At the risk of trying to answer my own question, here's one candidate I had forgotten about, Simon and Garfunkel's The Sound of Silence.

To quote Wikipedia:

The album was a commercial failure and led to the duo breaking apart, with Simon returning to England and Garfunkel to his studies at Columbia University. In spring 1965, the song began to attract airplay at radio stations in Boston, Massachusetts and throughout Florida. The growing airplay led Tom Wilson, the song's producer, to remix the track, overdubbing electric instrumentation with the same musicians who backed Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone. Simon & Garfunkel were not informed of the song's remix until after its release. The single was released in September 1965 and immediately began climbing the charts.

The song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1965, leading the duo to reunite and hastily record their second album, which CBS titled Sounds of Silence in an attempt to capitalize on the song's success. ... The song hit number one on the Hot 100 on December 4, 1965. It spent 12 weeks on the chart. By January, it had sold one million copies.

Just as a side note, most people don't realize that the success of Simon and Garfunkel, the quintessential folk-pop-rock act, was launched by their African-American producer, Tom Wilson.

  • Nothing wrong with answering your own question ;) ... & that is info I had no idea about before your post. Could we imagine the 60's without that track & the subsequent albums which would have never existed if not for that remix? – Tetsujin May 5 '15 at 17:13
  • 1
    I have no idea if it's actually the most successful remix, but one could make a good argument for it being one of the most influential... – Chris Sunami May 5 '15 at 19:32
3

The Beatles album, Let it Be… Naked from 2003 could arguably be considered the 'original' of the Let It Be album, recorded in 1969 & then shelved; later remixed & added to by Phil Spector in 1970, after the band's split.

The unqualified claim is that Paul McCartney didn't like the 'over-produced' Spector version & wanted to release it in its original form, without the choirs, orchestras & 'wall-of-sound' trademark that Spector had added to the 1969 original.

…though I cannot resist adding this quote from John Lennon, in defence of the Spector version…

"He was given the shittiest load of badly recorded shit with a lousy feeling to it ever, and he made something of it... When I heard it, I didn't puke."

This could actually be, by a quirk of the way Gold & Platinum record awards have changed over the years, the only case where the lesser-known version [...Naked] strictly went Platinum before the main version…

...Gold & Platinum records were first awarded in 1973, after the Beatles had split up, so none of their original releases qualified. There was a rule change in 2013 that allowed sales from 1994 onwards to count towards gold or platinum status. 13 Beatles albums qualified on that data alone, 25+ years after their original sale. [ref: BBC - Beatles albums finally go platinum

An unqualified statement1 in the Liverpool City Portal claims

The Let It Be LP reportedly shipped 3.2 million copies in 13 days representing a gross retail value of nearly $26 million (Billboard article, June 6, 1970).

1 cited, but no link - possibly due to the citation date.

  • We need a new word for when the original is released second --something along the lines of "prequel". Maybe "demix"? – Chris Sunami May 5 '15 at 19:31
  • I could go for 'cashing in'… but maybe that would be cynical ;) – Tetsujin May 5 '15 at 19:36

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