Diva (Remixes) - Beyoncé Single Review
There was a time when extended remixes of chart hits were elusive and highly sought-after. Often, if not exclusively, reserved for the vinyl EP or 12" single, a remix of Billie Jean or Blue Monday or Tainted Love was a thing of true beauty. And not everyone could get to a record shop that sold such gems, so cassette copies were passed around and re-copied and worn out.
Despite industry warnings to the contrary, home taping did not kill music nor, incidentally, did video kill the radio star (in your FACE, Buggles). Yet the industry has evolved to such an extent that it has virtually killed the quality remix.
Beyoncé Knowles is as renowned and successful a 21st century pop star as you could hope to find; extraordinarily beautiful with a voice of tremendous range and power. So when downloads of her single Diva, taken from her oh-so-enigmatically titled third album I Am... Sasha Fierce, did not get close to bothering the UK Top 50 you might have expected the Beyoncé machine to quickly move on. Although the single did considerably better in the US (rarely a guarantee of quality), in the UK at least, they didn't bother with a CD release and went on to enjoy a better showing with the next release, Sweet Dreams.
But they just couldn't let Diva lie. No doubt there was talk of 'sweating assets' and 'optimising out-turn' and so the remixes have been made available. All eight of them, probably knocked up in an afternoon on various laptops. Whilst it is acknowledged that clubland continues to 'give it up' for ceaseless, soulless, drawn-out re-tellings of second rate pop, by such standards even this is weak.
Diva didn't chart well in the UK for one excellent reason -it isn't very good. It simply is not the sum of its parts. The gorgeous star with the epic voice, the high-end arrangements and top quality production all mean nothing when the track lacks a decent hook. And it is with the hook that remixes do their best work. Stripping it down and teasing the listener until the layers are sewn together into something that binds it to the original; the love-at-first-sight bass-line of Billie Jean, New Order's Barney Sumner asking how it feels to treat him like you do, Tainted Love's unmistakable 'boop-boop' - all arrive with a euphoric rush of satisfaction that invokes the best an artist has to offer.
Whilst no-one expects Beyoncé and her writers to produce a Billie Jean or Blue Monday, remixers Maurice Joshua, Jeff Baringer, Mr Miggs et al would have expected something more to work with. If nothing else, the eight versions do differ significantly but, if anything, that's a result of the original material lacking anything substantial to tie the mixes together beyond Beyoncé's assertion that a 'diva is a female version of a hustla'.
Rather than extend the rich feast of the original, the Diva remixes have laid it bare. Next time such a turkey comes along for Beyoncé, hopefully it will be permitted to die a quick, dignified and humane death, soon forgotten - no one wants to witness prolonged and pointlessly remixed death throes.
Diva, when it finally leaves us alone, will not be missed but sadly the quality remix may have had its day.
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