Back in 2010 when downtempo producer Shamantis slowed down Justin Bieber's “U Smile” by 800%, he probably didn't know he was at the cutting edge of a new genre. We didn't know, either. But now it's clear there is a real appetite for transcendental takes on teenie-bop hits.
Yesterday, Twin Freaxx Records released what's probably the first compilation of the nascent art form: Now That's What I Call Drone: Vol. 1. Containing twelve chord-holding, sustain-filled takes on Top 40 tunes, the album features re-imaginings of everyone from Nicki Minaj to Bruno Mars.
What first began as a joke on Twitter—like most things do these days—the idea quickly picked up steam until experimental musicians like Jon Monteverde, Ben Marrett, and Patrick Cosmos started to actually make the tracks. The album is now available as a name-your-price release on Bandcamp. While not every attempt begs for multiple replays, there are some real gems here. Just listen to Bishonen Knife's shimmery, pulsing take on Carly Rae Jepsen's “Call Me Maybe” and you'll be sold.
Now That's What I Call Drone is just he latest in a long tradition of fringe genres re-appropriating mainstream successes. Nearly four decades ago The Dictators were covering Sonny and Cher songs and The Ramones were singing “Do You Wanna Dance.” Today it doesn't take more than a cursory YouTube search to find a million dubstep versions of the latest chart-toppers. Hell, you can even find a klezmer version of “Bad Romance.” That's all to say, this may not be as subversive as it first sounds—though still, it makes for a fun listen.