Harmonimix

For the longest time, I had no idea that “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was a Queen song. This totally blew my mind when I first found out. The song’s rockabilly simplicity and Elvis-tinged vocals scream 1959, not 1979 — the latter being the year Freddie Mercury reportedly penned the tune while lounging in a hotel bath tub. If I had to trace the emotional pathway that led away from this revelation, it would probably look a little something like this:

Step 1: Shock. “WTF? That’s a Queen song?!?”
Step 2: Denial. “No fucking way. I swear that song’s like 50 years old!”
Step 3: Confusion. “But… it doesn’t even sound like Queen… and it doesn’t mention a single bicycle…”
Step 4: Bargaining. “I guess tons of Queen songs don’t sound like other Queen songs. And Freddie Mercury did have a freakishly malleable voice…”
Step 5: Acceptance. “Damn. Queen kicks way more ass than I realized.”

When you think about it, isn’t this the exact same set of feelings Chris Hillard experienced on that fateful day he barged into the bathroom and found out that the British nanny he’d grown to love and respect was actually his American father in makeup and a fat suit? If there’s anything I learned from Mrs. Doubtfire, it’s that recontextualization changes things. I bring this up because I had another Mrs. Doubtfire moment this weekend as a result of something James Blake posted to Facebook in reaction to whispers that he was collaborating with Lil Wayne:

This wasn’t just any “little bootleg.” This turned out to be the same badass remix of Weezy’s “A Milli” that I became obsessed with when it first hit the interweb. I took it jogging. I took it on drives. I did everything but put a ring on it… and, ya know… find out that Blake was the one who made it.

Though I was shocked when I made this connection on Saturday morning, no denial stage was needed. The remix bears many of his signatures, from its soulful undercurrent to the extreme vocal modulation. And there’s even a solid reason for the disconnect; Blake released the song under a pseudonym –Harmonimix. Now that I know though, I love it even more. That fateful Facebook post transformed the song from an island of brilliance in a vast and often unrewarding sea of remixes into a catalyst for getting to know a side of Blake I didn’t know existed. Now I’m off to explore the other songs he’s remixed under the Harmonimix name, and I get to look forward to the purported September release of brand new Harmonimix material. Join me by trying out Blake’s remix of “A Milli” below, along with his take on D’Angelo’s “Left & Right.”

Lil Wayne — “A Milli” (Harmonimix remix) [Soundcloud]

D’Angelo — “Left & Right” (Harmonimix remix) [Soundcloud]

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