Through the rise of TikTok, lo-fi music has taken centre stage. Short for low-fidelity, lo-fi music sounds like it is floating from a crackly old record player, earthy with nostalgia and character. In today’s pop-music charts, it would be rare to find soft jazz songs from the 1940s, but some lo-fi classics, from Frankie Valli’s 1967 hit, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, to The Ink Spots’ 1941 release, “I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire”, have been making a come back as revamped, trap-beat-infused remixes on well-known TikTok videos.
Some of my favourite old lo-fi songs have been remixed by DJs to emit nostalgic beats that sound like the dim glow of a campfire and feel like orange-pink sunsets. These gentle beats and dusky vibes help escape corona news drops and the claustrophobia that lockdown can push for sometimes. Here are some of the best lo-fi remixes of some older material:
- “I Just Want to Be the One You Love”/ remixed by Cryst / sampled from “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” by The Ink Spots
This remix features a song written in 1938, then covered in 1941 by The Ink Spots. It croons romantic dreamy lines like, “I’ve lost all ambition for worldly acclaim / I just want to be the one you love” looped through addictive beats. The original song is also featured in the video game Fallout and is also remixed by another DJ called “Boxout”.
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“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” became one of Frankie Valli’s greatest hits of the late sixties. Written in 1967 by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio (who was also a previous member of the Four Seasons alongside Valli), this gentle love song climbed to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for a week, and has since, been bizarrely adopted by Welsh football fans as an anthem. In this lo-fi remix, artists Aiivawn and Craymer exploit this track’s potential for chill vibes and it sounds so amazing. A fab track to stick on for a run to clear your head or for dreaming about someone you fancy.
- “Polka Dots & Moonbeams” / remixed by Hentaidesu / originally sang by Frank Sinatra
“Polka Dots and Moonbeams” was written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke in 1940. This wonderful jazzy song was the first hit Frank Sinatra recorded with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and is one of the top 100 most recorded jazz pieces – even Bob Dylan covered it in his 2016 album, “Fallen Angels”. In this remix, Hentaidesu samples dialogue from the 2016 dream-themed, award winning film La La Land, to set the love and jazz-infused mood. They then layered only the instrumentals from “Polka Dots and Moonbeams”, strewn with loops and beats to create this vintage-style modern remix.
- “Sunday” / remixed by HNNY / sample from Laura Nyro feat. LaBelle’s cover of the song “I Met Him on a Sunday”
The song, “I Met Him on a Sunday”, featured on Laura Nyro’s 1971 album, Gonna Take a Miracle. Featuring the talented a cappella trio, Labelle, this album by Nyro covered older popular music, such as this song, “I Met Him on a Sunday”, which was originally released by a group called The Shirelles in 1958.
Maybe the best part of these remixes is their ability to expose younger generations to how timeless and soulful some of our world’s older music is. Like this song; written 1950s, covered in the 70s, and revamped into a mellow, lo-fi remix by HNNY, in the 2010s.
- “Monday Loop” / remixed by Tomppabeats / sample from Doris Day and The Mellomen’s song “Again” (1949)
The song, “Again”, was written by Lionel Newman and Dorcas Cochran and recorded by the famous actress, Doris Day (known for playing roles like Calamity in the 1953 western, musical film. Calamity Jane), and The Mellomen singing quartet in 1949. Tomppabeats’ remix is what introduced me to this soft Doris Day song, showing me the power of these inventive, dreamy lo-fi remixes to resurrect wonderful music from the past.
Many people have made really chilled out playlists featuring these sounds on YouTube and Spotify, a few class ones I found were this one, this one, and this one. I liked these remixes because they exposed me to lots of music I may not have otherwise come across in today’s musical landscape. And they also reminded me how lovely imperfection can be, through the soft sunset sounds of low fidelity music.