"She's Got Me Dancing"

by Tommy Sparks

The Music Always Matters
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Listening to this blind—sans pertinent info—I guessed Sparks was from Stockholm before I decided to look him up. Sure enough, that's where he grew up—young hiphop fan, mind blown by Stop Making Sense, pre-Nirvana indie, rave, etc. Now he makes fake '80s new pop (think the British stuff on early MTV), just like acres of his countrymen, and this song's pretty undeniable, if not necessarily all that enjoyable.

"The Fear (StoneBridge Clean Radio Mix)"

by Lily Allen

Speaking of Stockholm, that's where producer Sven Hallström comes from. His bread and butter is remixing pop records into club anthems under the name StoneBridge. It's an odd position: Hallström is an auteur of sorts, with an identifiable sound, but it's the sound that's famous, not him. Listen to his remix of "The Fear" and you'll recognize it instantly: clean, boxy Eurohouse with spangly digital keyboards, like someone texting their best friend the next penthouse over.

Under lots of other circumstances, this approach to remaking a song that was already doing okay on its own would seem intrusive. But this is Lily Allen's lament about fame: "It doesn't matter 'cause I'm packing plastic/And that's what makes my life so fucking fantastic," and then, on the chorus, "I don't know what's right and what's real anymore." Hallström's bubbling beats and decor that's half oompah (the flat-foursquare beat), half dreamy complement things perfectly. In fact, they make the original song seem superfluous.

"Fiesta"/"Traffic Jam"

by Cobblestone Jazz
(Wagon Repair)

By contrast, this bubbling 12-inch leaves any ideas of "pop" behind. Not just be-cause Vancouver trio Cobblestone Jazz maketechno, which usually eschews song struture, but because they're essentially an improvising unit. This time around, Tyger Dhula, Mathew Jonson, and Danuel Tate were joined by the Mole, whose own Wagon Repair titles have a more loop-based approach, and the combination works brilliantly: These tracks breathe and move in what sounds like real time, with "Fiesta" coolly unfurling a slow 303 line and "Traffic Jam" turning the heat up with a mesmerizing static-tinged keyboard riff, without losing any tension.

"Sine Language"

by the Crystal Method ft. LMFAO

Here's another approach to dance music: Invite the biggest bozo you can get on the microphone and make sure your music is equally boorish. Low point among many: "What I like is girls cooking breakfast/And what I really like is them cooking nekkid." As bad as "I Love College." recommended