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In today’s fast-paced, on-to-the-next-one mentality when it comes to digesting new music, remixes have become an invaluable asset in extending the lifespans of records and, as always, opening those original productions up to new factions of the music community. House music producers can show love to their favorite R&B artists by taking them into their world, peers and contemporaries can shock their fellow artists by reinterpreting the initial tracks into previously unthinkable arrangements, and, in special situations, remixers can use the building blocks of a composition to create something even better than the original.

The 20 remixes below highlight the best and most creative revisions from the past 12 months. Read on and listen in below, and stay tuned the rest of this week for the remaining categories — Music Videos, Albums, Producers, and Who To Watch.

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NEST HQ’s Best of 2016: Remixes
*20 tracks listed in alphabetical order by original artist

808 State – In Yer Face (Bicep Remix) [Feel My Bicep]

Every year, without fail, Bicep make a classic house tune. Last year it was “Just”, and now they’ve mined their latest anthem from the caverns of rave nostalgia: 808 State’s “In Yer Face” was a minor UK hit in 1993, a techno-fiesta with a touch of breaks. Bicep recycle its original melody into a crescendo of dazzling chords and warps its warbled screams and drums into clean, screeching builds, eking out a tear jerker with the might of modern FM bass. They deliver this tightly-tied, spaced-out package atop a hearty kick that drives the whole forward. Oh yes, oh yes, it’s all about that kick. – NR

Barely Alive – Over It (QUEST Remix) [Disciple]

As one of the key frontrunners of the emerging new wave of dubstep in recent years, 19-year-old QUEST fuses his love of fantasy RPGs like Elder Scrolls and Dark Souls with a meticulously technical production approach, resulting in slashing, metallic dubstep with a cinematic edge. In his rework of Barely Alive’s LP cut “Over It”, the Texas-based producer holds nothing back, following in the footsteps of genre trailblazers like Skrillex and Virtual Riot, both of whom have rinsed QUEST’s version all year. – JB

Children Of Zeus feat. DRS – Still Standing (Lenzman Remix) [The North Quarter]

Lenzman is a Dutch drum ’n’ bass artist who specializes in the liquid funk realm of the genre. One of the most seasoned in his lane, he has released on a slew of labels since his start in 2007, including his primary home of Metalheadz. Whenever people tell me they don’t like dnb because it’s “too fast” or “too aggressive,” I usually point them in Lenzman’s direction, and his 2016 remix of Children Of Zeus’ track “Still Standing” with award-winning MC and vocalist DRS is a prime example. Taking home “Best Remix” at the Drum&BassArena Awards this year, the instrumental finally matches the power of the lyrics. Tearjerking to say the least. — NB

deadmau5 – Strobe (Dimension Remix) [mau5trap]

Few tracks are more iconic than deadmau5’s “Strobe”, released nearly a decade ago as the conclusion of his breakout album, For Lack of a Better Name. It’s a 10-minute masterpiece representative of one of the greatest eras of all time in electronic music and for mau5trap’s 100th release, the label gave the beloved classic a top-notch remix package including a drum & bass edit from London’s Dimension. Mirroring the original, soak in the blissful euphoria of the lengthy build-up before spiraling into a frenzy of fast-paced, d&b footwork. This one does it right. – CS

Flux Pavillion – I Can’t Stop (Ekali Tribute) [Big Beat]

The EKALI remix of Flux Pavillion’s iconic “I Can’t Stop” is a totally refreshing, orchestral take on the original that could be labeled a cover as much as a remix. Layered with piano, chimes and light synths that come in on the chorus and persist throughout, EKALI’s version of the bass classic nails the sentimentality most of us have for this song by warming it up with soft instrumentation. The final product is so palatable you could sneak this onto your family’s holiday playlist and garner minimal glares from stuffy relatives. — MH

Frank Ocean – White Ferrari (Alex Metric Edit) [self-released]

Frank Ocean took his time with new music, disappearing from the live and recorded music circuit for a time before returning with the Endless/Blonde duology. Alex Metric keeps to a light touch on his “White Ferrari” edit, winding the original out and demonstrating how perfectly its melodies can fit on an undercurrent of house music. By the time Frank’s velvety vocals enter the scene nearly two minutes in, it’s as well-earned as Blonde was. Lots of venerable producers took a stab at remixing “White Ferrari”, but after an entire year of ‘em, Alex Metric still reigns supreme. – NR

graves & Coolights – Say Things (Crankdat Re-Crank) [self-release]

“This is easily the best track I’ve made all spring,” Ohioan bass and trap artist Crankdat wrote in the description of his graves & Coolights remix. Of all the heavyweight “Re-Cranks” he’s dropped via his VIP SoundCloud page, this one has arguably been his best so far. While the raspy synths feel both shrill and satisfying, the real winning element here is the overall production value. Everything is perfectly harmonized, coordinated and structured like the jungle gym of your dreams. — NB

Hundred Waters – Show Me Love (Remix) [OWSLA]

In all seriousness, Skrillex’s remix of Hundred Waters’ standout album cut “Show Me Love” off The Moon Rang Like a Bell is one of the greatest of the decade. Featuring verses and co-production from Chance the Rapper, Moses Sumney, and Robin Hannibal, it’s packed with so much energy, talent, and, well, love that it’s hard to find anything to compare it to. The track’s official video and the group’s live performance of the remix on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert were just as incredible, but it’s really the inherent love that each of these artists bring to the remix that makes it so unforgettable. — NB

Keith Ape – It G Ma (josh pan Opus) [OWSLA]

There might be five rappers (Ferg, Father, Dumbfoundead, Waka Flocka, Anderson Paak) and five co-producers (sakuraburst, MISOGI, X&G, MEDASIN., oshi) in the Opus remix to Keith Ape’s “It G Ma”, but there’s only one person who could bring it all together and his name is josh pan. Ask josh about executive producing the 14-minute “remix”, and he’ll tell you that it represents a visual story from his mind, a collection of individual chambers designed specifically for the musicians within them. A true opus in every sense of the word. – JB

Lee Walker vs DJ Deeon – Freak Like Me (Sonny Fodera Remix) [Defected]

First released in 1996, DJ Deeon’s “Freak Like Me” received newfound attention when Numbers blew the dust off for a repress: then, after Lee Walker crafted a stomping remix of the original, Defected picked that up alongside a whole remix package of its own, eventually culminating in Katy B hopping on for a vocal feature. On Sonny Fodera’s wild take, rhythm spirals out of the voice-over before the combined percolation rides the pitch-shift all the way back up. – NR

Manila Killa – All That’s Left (The M Machine Remix) [Next Wave/Ultra]

This near eight-minute remix of Manila Killa’s “All That’s Left” captures everything I have come to admire about the electronic super-group The M Machine: the ability to tell musical stories on a panoptic scale, thorough attention to detail, and a blatant disregard for the popular genre and sound of the moment. No matter how complex or absurd The M Machine may get, their music always has an ineluctable logic to it. — DN

Manolo Rose ft. Fame School – Run Ricky Run (DJ Sliink & Nadus Remix) [OWSLA]

Two of Jersey Club’s finest took on NYC rapper Manolo Rose at the front of this year for OWSLA’s Worldwide Broadcast compilation, flipping up the slow-rolling original produced by Fame School into an instant Club classic. Pumping at 135BPM with tons of glock pops and reloads, Sliink & Nadus’ remix of “Run Ricky Run” is a prime example of two artists completely reimagining a record within the constructs of their own creativity. – JB

Mr. Carmack – Pay (For What) (Alexander Lewis Trombone Flip) [self-released/Soulection]

Mr. Carmack’s got more beats than most people on planet Earth, so regardless of how big “Pay (For What)” was in 2014, by 2016 it had fallen out of prominence under a deluge of new Carmack tracks. Leave it to Alexander Lewis, then, to revitalize the song by brassing it up. With the new sub bass and instrumentation on his ‘Trombone Flip’, the track once again became a 2016 set staple. We’d like to see Alexander Lewis play this one out live with Brasstracks. – NR

Porter Robinson – Sad Machine (Darren Styles & Gammer Remix) [self-released]

Safe is boring. It’s been an exceptional year for hardcore, watching a massive stateside rise in popularity and re-launching the careers of long-time DJ and producers, Darren Styles and Gammer. The pair shared one of the biggest Porter Robinson remixes to smash the circuit, even rinsed by the man himself, with their high-velocity take on “Sad Machine”. No matter how many times you hear it, the track will make you believe it’s about to be the best day of your life. The future is fast. Hold on tight. – CS

Rufus – Innerbloom (What So Not Remix) [Sweat It Out Music!]

What So Not gave the remix treatment to fellow Aussies RÜFÜS for “Innerbloom”, and the end result is a track sounding so wholly departed from the original it’s virtually unrecognizable until the vocal hits. We make that assessment in the most complimentary way, of course — the haunting elements of the original vocals remain intact while the remix is simultaneously pumped full of energy. What So Not has taken the most exotic sounds of the original and fastened them into a breathtaking buildup that drops into a breakdown driven by what seems to be the original track’s percussion sped up – you need only listen to the first 60 seconds to see what we mean. — MH

Shawn Wasabi & YDG feat. Yung Gemmy – Burnt Rice (Henrik The Artist Remix) [self-released]

Even as the year comes to a close, we’re still doing triple blackflips over Henrik the Artist’s relentless remix of Shawn Wasabi’s “Burnt Rice”. As ¼ of Norwegian club music boy band, Rytmeklubben, he brings forward those super cute influences and combines them with plenty of fresh ideas to create the heaviest offering of his career to date. No matter the circumstances, this one consistently manages to throw any room into reckless abandon. – CS

SKisM – Experts (Barely Alive Remix) [Never Say Die]

“You know these experts tell me heavy music is dead,” SKisM and remixing artists, Barely Alive, declare, before telling those experts where they can shove it. I don’t know what experts they’re talking about – from what we can see, heavy music’s thriving – but these guys make sure they know it. The original serves as an apt middle-finger to all these experts, but Barely Alive’s remix shores up the latent savagery in SKisM’s original, building with a stutter and adding a half-time second drop in true 2016 remix fashion. Barely Alive have constructed a lawless sonic temple to indoctrinate all the bass-doubters, and it totally hits. – NR

Ta-ku & Wafia – Love Somebody (Mr Carmack Remix) [Future Classic]

Carmack always hits the nail on the head, whether it’s a one-off track he randomly uploads at 4:37am on a Tuesday, his Standing Rock charity efforts, or any of the multiple full-length albums he releases on a monthly basis. One of his greatest works of 2016 is an official remix for “Love Somebody” off Ta-ku & Wafia’s (m)edian EP. The original is a complete and beautiful work of art that speaks to the heart, but Carmack’s remix takes it to unimaginable heights; one of my favorite Carmack cuts to date. — NB

Wiwek & Skrillex feat. Elliphant – Killa (Slushii Remix) [OWSLA]

Slushii delivered a standout remix of Skrillex, Wiwek and Elliphant’s original, “Killa” that was a showstopper this year during Jack Ü’s performance at Coachella. The emergent producer’s rendition of the Free and Rebellious EP cut boasts the sparkly sonic aesthetic he’s known for contrasted with a shrill, grating synth-line punctuating the chorus and verses, resulting in a much spookier follow up to the original. — MH

WRLD x Father Dude – Galaxies (DROELOE Remix) [NEST]

It’s no coincidence that DROELOE are ubiquitous throughout this year’s Best Of lists. The pair of producers from the Netherlands have been impressive with every release in their breakout campaign, including this beautiful remix of WRLD & Father Dude’s springtime NEST single, “Galaxies”. Additional vocals, breezy melodies, and pleasant textures shot this rework to the top of the pack. — JB

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Words by Molly HankinsjonahberryNathan BeerCassie SheetsNeal Rahman, and Dani Noguera
Artwork by DISCHETTO

Come back tomorrow for the 10 Best Videos of 2016.

Check out NEST HQ’s Best Originals of 2016.

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