Ultra Naté - Turn It UpOne of the tricks of vocal house is how that vocal sounds over different types of backing. Who better to showcase a few than Ultra Naté, best known for her big, deserved 1997 diva classic "Free"? The original version of "Turn It Up" is effortlessly built, but the chorus is its weakest point—the close-voiced, quick-sung up-and-down part, specifically. I do like the verses, though—the Auto-tune layers are judicious and give an already sheeny performance some extra shine. The Thrillers' original production may have a hyperglow too slick even for latter-day yacht-funk revivalists, but this is just as much a record in a tradition.
The remixes vary, none more so than Paul Oakenfold's: dance veterans gotta stick together, clearly. In much the way the song itself does, the Oakie version starts piano-heavy and promising and then heads straight to the cheese barrel on the gauzy, arpeggiated chorus. Similarly the mix by Ruff Loaderz Vs. Scott Giles mines a fairly lean, crackling style on the verses but goes soft on the hook (which removes the verses' tautness), and Ruben Mancias and Raffia Scoccia whip the original's most glistening aspects into aural meringue.
Wawa's two remixes aim for the mall discos with even more gusto. I don't care for the electro one, but Wawa's club mix is a great lesson: just because something is déclassé doesn't void it of pleasure. He stuffs the track so full of up-with-jelly-bracelets synth gewgaws that he even gets me to like the chorus. So does the simpler MuthaFunkaz version, a simple, swinging-as-fuck piano-organ gospel-fiery thump that reminds me of the Masters at Work that once made small touches seem huge.
Paul Oakenfold is the UK’s number one DJ. This simple statement, however, doesn’t even begin to properly acknowledge Oakenfold’s stellar contribution to our musical landscape. His signature can be seen in everything from the early rise of hip-hop and the re-invention of British dance culture to the Balearic explosion View the full artist profile