Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Nneka – Heartbeat (Chase & Status Remix)

Drum’n’bass team help propel Nigerian singer to unlikely UK hit…


Chuck Eddy: So apparently the big controversy here (judging from what Frank Kogan told me) is whether this half-Nigerian, half-German singer’s current Brit-hit remix improves on her year-old non-remix, right? So I played them both, back-to-back, and I can definitively say that they both made me seasick.

John Seroff: I really quite like Nneka and expect great things from her in the near future; her voice is unique and her globalblind approach to songwriting works like a pencil come to a fresh point. The original “Heartbeat” is wonderful; a hyperventilating soup of dub, rnb and dancepop. It’s uneasy but powerfully thrusting; you don’t know whether to dance or bob your head or cover your ears or what. The Chase and Status remix undoes all that delicate anarchic balance with unnecessary bluntness and glammy rock guitar. The blend is never clarified and the resulting unfinished product is a colloid on a par with cold clam chowder. I’d give the original an 8; in this format, I can pass.

Edward Okulicz: Creepy, taut and hypnotic. The crashing guitars don’t gel with the singing, but the contrast between the sledgehammer approach of putting them on top anyway with the quieter, tense parts of the chorus is stark and effective.

Iain Mew: By no means does this remix all work — the chugging (nu-metal?) guitars initially come off slightly dated and very out of place — but when it does it’s really something. Nneka sounds totally, compellingly mental in the chorus, falling over herself to get half-formed words out as the beats pile up behind her. It’s surprising and exciting and actually a little draining. When the plug suddenly gets pulled at the end it feels like being given permission to breathe again.

Michaelangelo Matos: I think what works about this for me is the way that at no point does the vocal go in lockstep with the riff and beat. It creates a tension that the power-tool guitar couldn’t possibly generate on its own, sounding devoid of human touch as it does. Which ultimately brings everything else down, tension or no.

Anthony Miccio: I wish they had let Nneka re-record her vocal to fit the cheese-metal backdrop (as Diddy did on his “Benjamins” rock remix eleven years ago), but I’d guess the disconnect only makes it more appealing to mash-up nuts. Me, I usually only like them when I can’t hear the work.

Alex Ostroff: A worthy addition to the canon of Heartbeats (Annie, Robyn, The Knife, Los Campesinos!, Paris). The original is all tinkling piano and high-life drums and pounding bass and stuttered vocals. It evokes house and UKG while retaining an organic immediacy unmatched by synthesizers. The remix first throws Nneka’s voice into an echoey void, and like Skream’s take on La Roux, the result is eerie and affecting. The coup de grace is a Justice-y sort of trick — alternating towering guitar power chords and blurred arpeggios, lending the whole affair an epic hard-rock drum’n’bass feel to it. I was initially prepared to give this an [8] or more, but the off-kilter drums in the original hit the same pleasure centres as the Meters’ sample in Amerie’s 1 Thing, and Chase & Status can’t match up.

Matt Cibula: I like the original a lot more than this rocked-up remix, like A LOT a lot. But whatever gets Nneka onto the charts is all good, and it’s still the same song more or less, a heartfelt plea to feel the blood beating in others’ veins as well as your own.

Additional Scores

Pete Baran: [4]
Martin Skidmore: [6]

3 Responses to “Nneka – Heartbeat (Chase & Status Remix)”

  1. A worthy addition to the canon of Heartbeats (Annie, Robyn, The Knife, Los Campesinos!, Paris).

    …Taana Gardner, Vivien Vee, the Defranco Family, Wire. Plus “Baby’s Heartbeat” by John & Yoko (literally featuring a baby’s hearbeat in utero), and the beating of their hearts which is the only sound in Tommy James’s (and later Tiffany’s, etc.) “I Think We’re Alone Now.”

  2. prince used his unborn (and sadly stillborn) child’s heartbeat as a bassline for sex in the summer.

  3. Personally, I prefer the Chase & Status remix.