Album cover courtesy of The Chainsmokers
Review by Nathan Kahn
Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall, better known as the DJ duo The Chainsmokers, are arguably the hottest thing in pop music. The Chainsmokers blew up after their breakout hit “#Selfie” was released on Dim Mak recordings on January 24, 2014. Since then, The Chainsmokers have gone on to release multiple Billboard Top 10 hits, including “Roses”, “Don’t Let Me Down”, and most recently “Closer”.
“Closer” was released on July 29 of this year and has become an instant hit. On August 20, it became the Billboard Top 100 number 1, and stayed there for nine consecutive weeks. After attracting this much attention, “Closer” became a target for bootleg remixes by numerous DJs, including Jauz, ARMNHMR, and Meaux Green. Several of these bootlegs have over a million plays on Soundcloud and have been played live by The Chainsmokers in their DJ sets.
The Chainsmokers later released an official Remix EP two months after they released the original, featuring remixes from R3hab, Shaun Frank, Wuki, and Robotaki. This EP came well after many bootlegs became popular, and features several lackluster remixes in comparison, despite the existence of remixes by relatively well known and talented DJs, including Shaun Frank, who helped write the original song.
The first remix of the EP features a sped up, tropical version of “Closer” by R3hab. R3hab is a highly successful DJ with releases on Spinnin Records and several tracks with tens of millions of plays on Spotify. He is best known for his style of Big Room House, featuring aggressive, distorted synthesizers, four on the floor beats, and a tempo of 128 beats per minute, suited to being played at music festivals. However, here he takes a step away from his older style into a slower, chiller style of music, which is disappointing in comparison. It lacks the energy of his previous style, with little emotion to make up for it.
R3hab’s remix is the shortest of them all, clocking in at 2:41, and has little substance to it. The breakdown isn’t very interesting, and the buildup leads to a very forgettable drop, lacking the catchiness of the original. While he has attempted to distance himself from his older festival music, a remix in that style would be much more suitable to a live-performance, and would provide something different from the other remixes in the EP.
Shaun Frank’s remix provides the most refreshing take on Closer by keeping his version as catchy as the original, but with more emotion. Shaun Frank completely overhauls the track by changing the structure; he cut up the acapella and uses tempo changes throughout the song to keep the listener constantly wondering what comes next. His remix provides a different take on the original while keeping in the same genre and infusing his own style into it.
Shaun Frank’s remix has striking similarities to a previous track called “LA LA LAND” with DVBBS and Delaney Jane. The production quality also shines through, and the remix works as he blends his style with The Chainsmokers seamlessly (though his work as a writer for the track likely influenced this). The end result is the highest quality remix on the EP, due to his skill, original idea, and emotion involved.
The third remix is done by Wuki, and it is a confusing addition to the EP. Wuki traps out “Closer”, uses minimal parts from the original vocal, and the dubstep influenced drop is out of place compared to the lighter tone set by Halsey’s vocal. Wuki is no stranger to doing remixes for big Djs, having done remixes for the likes of Galantis, RL Grime, and Valentino Khan. All of these previous remixes combined the vocals and his new instrumentation to create a more cohesive song, whereas his “Closer” remix feels very disjointed. Wuki’s remix could easily be turned into an original by removing Halsey’s vocal and adding a new one better-suited to the music behind it.
The last remix is by Robotaki is equally disappointing, but for the opposite reasons. While Wuki moves extremely far from the original version, Robotaki makes very few changes, using the same melody in a near identical drop, and does little to change the structure. This leaves listeners questioning if the remix offers anything new. The only redeeming part of the remix is the second drop, which builds on the first, and is different from the original, but it has many similarities to other songs in the future bass genre, featuring big chord stacks and vocal chops. In the end, the remix fails to add anything innovative.
In the end, the Closer Remix EP fails to provide much new. Of the four remixes, only Shaun Frank provides something that is memorable. The other three remixes seem thrown together, with little thought put into them. With the vide variety of bootlegs available, The Chainsmokers could have easily picked several that they liked from those and had official remixes done instead.