How about another speed round? Let's start with J.Period's (ft. De La Soul) "Excursions (Tribute Remix)" (jperiod .com/q-tip), in which my favorite hiphop group ever rhymes over a classic by their most inspired colleagues, A Tribe Called Quest—part of J.Period and Q-Tip's The [Abstract] Best Volume One, available free online. Beyoncé's "Single Ladies (Silk Remix)" (MP3) simply lays B's vocal over an appealingly elegant, rolling R&B groove that suggests the song is strong enough to have been a hit in a wholly different arrangement. "My Swagg" by Big Chief ft. Jim Jones (Make Millions Music, Inc.) isn't billed as a remix, but it might as well be, since the track is a carbon copy of Mims's "This Is Why I'm Hot." Over it, a couple of vocal nonentities manage not to get in the beat's way, or their own.
"Whachadoin?" by N.A.S.A. ft. Spank Rock, M.I.A., Santogold, and Nick Zinner is the aural equivalent of one of those rock-stars-wear-Converse magazine ads in more ways than one—it's enjoyable fluff that sounds like it was made by the Hype Machine's secret blogger lab (and before she changed her name to Santigold). Favorite new-wave redux of this young year is Franz Ferdinand's "Live Alone" (Domino), which sounds pained and resembles Duran Duran at the same time—what a trick. Neko Case's "People Got a Lotta Nerve" (Anti) isn't surprising if you know Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, but where I always found that album impenetrable lyrically, this song gets good and specific in a hurry: "I'm a man-man-man, man-man-man-eater/But still you're surprised, prized, prized/When I eat ya." And that note she hits after the second chorus is to freakin' die for.
Ben Watt's "Guinea Pig (DJ Koze Remix)" (Get Physical) is the only new track on Koze's astonishing new remix disc, Reincarnations, and its swooning, treated vocals, just on the right side of incomprehensibility, hold you taut for the three and a half minutes it takes the beat to drop; this one's really for listening more than dancing. Not so with Gui Boratto's "Atomic Soda"/"Ballroom" (Kompakt), which sounds awfully—and awfully enticingly—like a pair of variations on Vitalic's dirty mid-decade dance classic "La Rock 01." Tadeo's "Reflection Nebula 056n" (Net28), meantime, goes all the way back to early-'90s Berlin-Detroit-axis techno for its evocation of the heavens slowly turning. Let's say good-bye with Jürgen Paape's "Ausklang (Burger/Voigt Mix)" (Kompakt), the highlight of Pop Ambient 2009: like following a single drop down a very long waterfall.