Grammys Hit The Dancefloor With Mixed Results

This year, NARAS will dole out awards for Best Dance Recording and Best Remixer of the Year for the first time ever, and are being praised or criticized for the move, depending on who you talk to.

In the Dance category, the French funking Daft Punk, the radio-friendly Quad City DJs and Gina G, disco diva Donna Summer and Euro-popsters the Pet Shop Boys round out a list that may be danceable, but hardly represents the choices the dance community who lobbied for the Grammy would have preferred.

“Technically speaking these are all qualified,” Ellen Harris, the president of the Committee for the Advancement of Dance Music told MTV News.

“I think what happens when they get in the mix of whatever how many entries is that some times people vote according to familiarity.”

“They’re going to need new judges for the dance records, period,” Remix nominee Todd Terry told MTV News.

“They can’t have Cowboy Bob picking the Best Dance record if he’s never been to
a club before. It’s just the plain fact to it.”

The Remix category packs a bit more credibility as the Academy passed on the work of Babyface and Puff Daddy to bring long overdue recognition to the megastar DJs of club culture. “Now after all these years I think I would have at least got a couple of them,” Remix nominee David Morales laughed. “It would have been nice to have a couple remixer of the year Grammy Awards.”

“People are starting to realize that this is not just hired help like hiring a plumber to fix a pipe,” nominated remixer Armand Van Helden told MTV News. “It’s more like these guys are doing art” [500k QuickTime] .

Fellow nominee Frankie Knuckles agreed saying, “Before it was given little or no recognition whatsoever. So now, the industry is forced to look at what we do as something serious.”

Serious indeed. The art of remixing has taken previously
tranquil ballads and made them upbeat (as Knuckles did with Toni Braxton’s “I Don’t Want To”), sped up the tempo on toe-tappers (like Todd Terry’s work on Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch”), showed U2 how to really make people dance (on Morales’ version of “Discotheque” [450k QuickTime]), and clubified the Rolling Stones (on Van Helden’s remix of “Anybody Seen My Baby” [400k QuickTime] ). But while their work can help established bands find new fans, it can also risk a group’s credibility with die hard followers.

“You’re gonna make people mad first of all,” Van Helden said. “If I were a Rolling Stones fan, I am one, but I’m not hard-core. If I were a long term fan of theirs through the years and they’re putting out these dance remixes on the side, I wouldn¹t mind. I understand that they are just trying to put that song in other markets.”

“It just brings a whole new focus to it,”
remixer and nominee Frankie Knuckles told MTV News. “It gives the audience an opportunity to see the music from a different side, hear it from a different side, which didn’t happen 20 years ago.”

While the remixers themselves see the appeal of spinning a track into a new and different form, it seems that record labels’ attempts to broaden the appeal of its entertainers sometimes leaves artists feeling that the integrity of their music has been comprising.

“Well, Jamiroquai… I did the mix for them,” Terry told MTV News. “I’m sure he said something like he didn’t like this or that or whatever… I mean, it doesn’t work for him. I understand what he’s saying when he doesn’t want his stuff remixed.”

“It’s something you don’t have to give somebody to remix in a club,” Jamiroquai’s Jay Kay said of his music. “I mean, they will, but what I’m saying is it’s an original format. It can be playing in a club.”

“The company hired me,” Terry said, explaining his
work on the Jamiroquai’s “Alright” [250k QuickTime].

“I got no beef with him about it. It’s just like being hired by a company.”

Morales, who has also remixed Jamiroquai on the track “Cosmic Girl,” cut to the essence of his art and commerce saying, “It’s like I got a song from the outside and they said, ‘Give us a dance record. Give us something.’ My job is to make it work on the dancefloor, whatever it is. That’s my job.”

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