When Bronwen Dickey brought her new dog home, she saw no traces of the infamous viciousness in her affectionate, timid pit bull. Which made her wonder: how had the breed-beloved by Teddy Roosevelt, Helen Keller, TV's "Little Rascals"-come to be known as a brutal fighter?
With Lady Gaga becoming pop music's biggest star and releasing a handful of inescapable singles over the past year, a remix album of her recent work was all but inevitable. Thankfully, Gaga has employed a collection of more-than-capable producers to make her dance-ready smashes from "The Fame" and "The Fame Monster" even more propulsive on "The Remix." A majority of the tracks – including Starsmith's keyboard-heavy take on "Bad Romance" and a bombastic reworking of "LoveGame" that features a Marilyn Manson cameo – speed up the tempo and accentuate Gaga's earworm refrains. "The Remix" works best, however, when the artists use the singer's framework as inspiration for new musical sensations. Stuart Price flips around the chorus of "Paparazzi" to emphasize Gaga's sense of longing, while Passion Pit turns "Telephone" into a delicious mix of techno, dubstep and chipmunk vocals. "The Remix's" 10 songs won't replace Gaga's chart-topping hits, but the tracks offer enough interesting angles to attract Gaga diehards as well as casual dance music fans.
These 15 remixes of songs from Phoenix's last disc are all over the map. Animal Collective turn "Love Like a Sunset" into shimmering psychedelia; Passion Pit toss a couple of synths at "1901." In the hands of Chairlift, the sumptuous ballad "Fences" is dragged into the chill-out lounge. It's a fun, slightly gratuitous album, whose varied results underscore the strength of the source material: songs too well-built to be improved upon — or ruined.