When it comes to dance music, the major labels have a rep for playing it safe, and underground imprints tend to stick with their own crews -- a recipe for stasis in both cases. But there's a loophole to be found in remixes. Remixes have many purposes: They're frequently used to reconfigure pop songs for club audiences, or to give a leg up to an artist's understudies.
But they sometimes serve as a back door to a whole alternate universe where genres melt away and the distinction between "underground" and "mainstream" disappears. Who knows how these little ripples in the cool-square continuum happen. Sometimes, they're probably done at the urging of an artist who has done her homework and knows what's coming next; sometimes, they might be the pet project of a high-level A&R rep with a deeply rooted passion for, say, industrial techno. Whatever the case, these moments of rupture can offer some thrillingly head-scratching moments, making you wonder, "Did I really just hear that?" You did indeed. We've pulled together some of our favorites -- Untold remixing Ke$ha, Ricardo Villalobos updating Thomas Dolby, Lindstrom and Prins Thomas disco-fying HAIM (!) -- into one playlist of crazy tangents and unexpected bull's-eyes.