Phoenix-Trying To Be Cool Remix ft. R. Kelly

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Erm. What?! Having been unaware that they once performed on stage together, R. Kelly popping up on a remix of French band Phoenix’s excellent single was beyond unexpected. A massive surprise, but it’s always fun to hear acts of such distant genres come together in this format, and in this case it actually ends up working quite well.

The original is one of my favourite alternative/alt pop tracks in recent times, and as hard as you might try, it’s one of those songs that so inescapably positive you’ll rarely be able to skip it. Throw that bubbly production under R. Kelly’s refined vocal output, and you’ve got a layer of smoothness and warm familiarity to add to that liveliness, rounding the track off rather nicely. It’s difficult to imagine if you’re well-accquainted with the original, but Kels’ vocals legitimately blend in so well here, as he takes over on hook duty and also lends a verse to proceedings; the impact is so effective that admittedly, part of me wanted to hear him take over on vocals for the entire track. That’s pretty greedy though, as this is a superb little refresh of an already-enjoyable track, and one that might just push it toward the kind of mainstream spotlight that this sort of track would thrive underneath. A strong original, a fun video, a likeable dance remix, and now a big name official rework. That, my friends, is how you roll out a single. Hit iTunes for the download.

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Phoenix-Trying To Be Cool (A-Trak Remix)

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The infectious positivity of the original track is worringly addictive, and you throw the ever-enjoyable A-Trak into the mix, and you’ve got a twist on that catchy song that’ll command equal footing in your summer playlists.

Coming in at a shade over 7 minutes, it may seem daunting at first (for those with a small brain), but it’s dynamic enough to keep you entertained the whole way through. The opening makes great use of the inherent positivity transmitted by the vocals, throwing them above a production that’s rather similar to a sped-up version of the original backdrop. A-Trak’s influence in wielded more strongly in the following section, as he throws forth bright, vivid synths that infuse the track with a bounce that’ll allow this to translate to the club scene rather easily- it’s a clever juxtaposition, as the heavy utilisation of the original in the intro contrasts well with its almost complete omittance from the middle portion. The track switches back to something resembling that intro once again, but with much more vibrancy, as A-Trak pairs those uplifting vocals with a lively yet slow-building production, leading into an explosive final quarter that brings the buzzing synths of the middle section back. Sure to be a favourite with the electro and house fans, and one worth throwing onto your sunny day playlists.

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Phoenix-Trying To Be Cool (Video)

In addition to a genius live performance of the track by the band, the video also sees two film crews tackling the impressive task of continuously swapping shots every twenty-five seconds. While one camera shoots, the other prepares the next shot; like a relay race, the cameras must pass the baton to each other to begin the next shot once twenty-five seconds are up, meaning if each camera is not set up, the video itself cuts to black.

I’m sure many don’t care about the technical aspects of videos, but the above is a pretty creative shot concept, and one that backs an already-impressive track. The song is wonderfully upbeat, combining bubbly melodies with chunky percussion and energetic guitar work for a summery, bright backdrop that’ll set you right up for a sunny day (and apparently, we’re getting some this weekend). The vocal output capitalises on that bouncy soundscape, with a melodic performance that focuses more on harmony and lengthened vocals instead of overbearing lyricism or excessive emotion-it’s a decision that makes the synergy between production and vocal much smoother.

The video is a very fun watch, with several funny and unexpected goings on matching up to the upbeat vibe of the song, with a particular highlight being vocalist Thomas Mars’ Gob Bluth moment (2:20, for the impatient). A feelgood audiovisual that should definitely brighten your day. Available now.

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