Why did no one TELL ME that the Starsmith remix of N.E.R.D's Nelly Furtado-featuring "Hot-N-Fun" is life-changing?
N.E.R.D. - Hot N Fun (Starsmith Remix) by Starsmith
(This comes straight from Starsmith's SoundCloud page, so don't miss the download option built into the player: click on the downward-pointing arrow below the "Info" button.)
The Neptunes may have delivered some great tracks over the years, but, disappointingly, the new single from the group of which they are a part wasn't more than "fine." The original "Hot-N-Fun" is R&B-funk in the style you'd expect from N.E.R.D., heavy on the percussion and guitar-based groove. Summer friendly? Sure, but it wasn't anything to make you stop in your tracks--a song to enjoy when it came on, but not one that stuck with you for much past that.
This remix, though, makes it almost unfathomably better. It might very well be the best thing I've heard yet from young, blog-beloved British producer Starsmith (though to be fair, his song for Kylie, "Put Your Hands Up [If You Feel Love]" isn't out yet), who besides his remixes has worked on songs for Ellie Goulding (check out "This Love [Will Be Your Downfall]" or the more famous "Under The Sheets") and Diana Vickers (see "You'll Never Get To Heaven"). Starsmith uses quirky, shiny, cute, jumpy synths somewhat akin to those in Frankmusik's "In Step" or Owl City's "Umbrella Beach" which, if the artist chooses, can lend themselves to a cosmic combination of joy and sadness--beats that lift you up while beautiful melodies simultaneously caress you in your dance and pull you back towards something darker.
Most of that potential darkness is set aside in this remix. Starsmith has reworked "Hot-N-Fun" into what it was apparently always meant to be: euphoric pop-dance. The propulsive electronic backing recenters the song, with the recontextualized answerback-style title-deriving line and Nelly's uplifting hook suddenly becoming less a sleazy invitation by a swag-endowed bass player to engage in some drop-it-low dirty dancing and more a unifying, lost-in-the-music journey to an idealized dancefloor paradise. There's a slight allusion to some duller, more challenging existence away from dancefloor in the piano run quietly embedded in the song and the occasionally slightly conflicted feel in a synth or two, but it's only there to improve the experience you're having now through contrast. They're vague memories floating at the outside of your mind, reminding you that life doesn't have to feel this good--but right now it does. This new version of the song is celebratory in a sophisticated, shaded way.
Remember how you felt about the Jacques Lu Cont Thin White Duke Mix of "Mr. Brightside"? This is right there in terms of remix-induced electronica transcendence. N.E.R.D includes some talented people, but it's hard to believe what Starsmith has achieved with the source material they gave him. A world where competent if unexciting songs are scrubbed off to reveal shining dancefloor gems that suddenly seem like authentic anthems, no matter what their original lyrical content may have been? That's Starsmith's world--and that's a world I want to live in.
The original version of N.E.R.D's "Hot-n-Fun" is available for purchase digitally here. There's nowhere to buy the Starsmith remixes yet (I'm eager to buy the radio remix), but I imagine they will be available in the UK once the single is released there.