Summer Sounds

Skip the weak, late American release of Lady Gaga's The Remix collection and savor instead true Songs of Summer

Has Lady Gaga already peaked? Oh sure, it was only last summer that her career as a mega-star took off. But it’s been threatening overexposure ever since.

Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga

Honestly, can you stand to hear ”Paparazzi” again? Or another remix of ”Poker Face”?

It’s not clear who’s left to buy it, but Gaga’s label has just released The Remix. True fans — or even just Canadians — surely already have the international edition, which featured a whopping 17 remixes, including a Pet Shop Boys remix of ”Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)” as well as a stripped-down piano version of ”Poker Face.” That was released pretty much everywhere but here in May — yes, before summer even began.

Not only is the American market way late to the game, again. We also only get 10 tracks. Many of these are sub-par remixes in the blah-blah-blah techno realm, by a crew of mostly unknown, upstart remixers. The two most established producers here, Stuart Price and Richard Vission, turn in ho-hum remixes of ”Paparazzi” and ”Just Dance,” respectively.

The Massachusetts synth-pop band Passion Pit offers a bouncy and moody ”Telephone,” and the echoing vocal manipulations of FrankMusik’s ”Eh, Eh” are intriguing.

But really, only Chew Fu’s Ghettohouse Fix of ”Love Game” is worth seeking out, to hear the New York remixer’s sonic hopscotching, and to hear Marilyn Manson add his creepy growl. Suddenly, the disco-stick song makes sense.

But little else does here. I need a break from the Gaga. I’m getting Gaga’d out.

What song will take the title of Song of Summer 2010, SOS for short? There are several contenders.

Gaga’s Swedish confection ”Alejandro” is, of course, one. (Though The Sound of Arrows’ remix on The Remix is the sound of winter doldrums.) But ultimately, ”Alejandro” is just not sweet or light enough to earn the SOS appellation. It doesn’t capture the carefree spirit that is — or should be — summer. Others too edgy for the distinction include: Robyn’s heartbreaking but beautiful ”Dancing On My Own”; Scissor Sisters’ ”Fire With Fire”; Kelly Rowland’s sexy, shouty ”Commander”; and Ne-Yo’s ”Beautiful Monster,” which overflows with desire as Ne-Yo is irresistibly drawn to something he shouldn’t be. That all-but screams summer.

So does Katy Perry’s ”California Gurls” to some, but not me. Next! The colors are already fading on Kelis’s magnificent ”Acapella,” and the Kelis camp long ago moved on to follow-up single ”4th of July.”

The Kylie camp has also started to move on to the second single from Aphrodite, ”Get Outta My Way.” But ”All The Lovers” is proving to have amazing staying power, at least in gayland. It may not — yet — be quite as overplayed as ”When Love Takes Over” from David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland. But it’s just as bright and bubbly, about the headiness of a new love, as last year’s champ, which also took its time bubbling up in clubland; ”All The Lovers” just topped Billboard‘s main dance chart. This whispery wonder of an anthem may have been a sleeper hit to some, and it definitely does get better with each listen. And once you hear Michael Woods’s remix, you’ll agree, to paraphrase Minogue, all the others, they don’t compare.

But I heard you say, hey hey! Ah yes, certainly Dennis Ferrer’s ”Hey Hey” is the undisputed underground SOS — especially given recent release of a slew of hot remixes. With its sharp, twitchy production, sassy female vocals and a touch of jazz, it’s this summer’s ”Let Me Think About It.” Just as with that 2008 club hit by Fedde Le Grand featuring Ida Corr, you don’t hear the track as often as you’d like. And you can’t get enough of it.

”Just an ordinary day, ’till you came around. Now my life’s upside down,” go the lyrics. ”And it’s all because I heard you say. It’s all because I walked your way.”

LADY GAGA
The Remix
Interscope
$10
starstar and a half

But who’s the singer? You’ll search in vain through official documents. The official track listing only credits Ferrer. ”As the world rediscovers a taste for classic vocal-based house, Dennis Ferrer’s at the forefront with ‘Hey Hey,”’ reads a press release. Yes, it has the gall to tout a return to vocals in dance music without bothering to credit the vocalist!

It’s perhaps the most pernicious aspect of modern-day dance music, this regular slighting of a song’s singer. Many big-name DJ/producers have done it in recent years, from Roger Sanchez to Deep Dish to Offer Nissim. But vocalists have always driven pop music, as most fans follow a singer, not a songwriter. Even David Guetta knows this: He always shares billing with the vocalists on his tracks.

Ferrer always doesn’t. He didn’t credit vocalists on his debut album, 2007′s The World As I See It. And he doesn’t on ”Hey Hey.” But Ferrer’s publicist confirmed the rumors for Metro Weekly. It is, in fact, Shingai Shoniwa of the British indie-rock group The Noisettes.

What was that? I heard you say, Dennis Ferrer featuring Shingai Shoniwa. Hey hey!

Doug Rule is a theater critic and contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

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