If you put a coin into a Postmodern Jukebox, you get a mix of doo wop, bass fiddling, and hot jazz goodness. With a rotating cast, and innovative arrangements of pop songs, Postmodern Jukebox keeps things new and exciting. Let’s be honest... vintage will always be in style. Pop culture revolves in cycles and the past influences the present.
Whenever I experience a sense of nostalgia for the past, I listen to Postmodern Jukebox and enter a time machine that takes me back to eras of the past.
Postmodern Jukebox is a musical project driven by Scott Bradlee, where contemporary songs from various genres are reworked into a musical style from past eras. A self-taught musician and jazz lover, Bradlee was never a fan of music lessons. He taught himself piano picking jazz songs apart by ear, trying to mimic jazz songs on the piano and experimenting with ragtime piano playing.
He grew up listening to ragtime and jazz, but his friends listened to pop music, so to bridge the gap he invented Postmodern Jukebox. Bradlee started off trying to make it as a jazz pianist in New York, but there was not much work so he embarked on musical projects where he reworked modern songs into a vintage style. In 2012 he released "A Motown Tribute To Nickelback” which was a collaboration with local musicians which arranged Nickelback's songs in the style of 1960s style R&B music. He expanded his passion of re-working popular songs into jazz or rag-time pieces when he began posting his original pieces of today’s hits on YouTube with the support of Postmodern Jukebox. The group received recognition on YouTube after the doo wop version of ‘We Can’t Stop’ by Miley Cyrus blew up.
Personally what appeals to me most about Postmodern Jukebox is the fact that they are preserving old styles of music such as doo-wop, and older forms of jazz but still making it relatable to the modern age by covering contemporary songs. Just as Scott Bradlee intended to do, PMJ bridges the gap between popular music and jazz music. Moreover, it is refreshing to hear something different, amongst the pool of alternative, and manufactured modern pop hits.
The rotating cast paradigm is exciting because you are constantly being introduced to new artists, so you are never bored. It is also a great platform for promoting up and coming artists, and showcasing undiscovered talent.
Due to the nature of Postmodern Jukebox’s rotating cast, we do not know which members will be performing at the jazz festival this year, so we are all in for a pleasant surprise, but among many others, some prominent postmodern jukebox members include Haley Reinhart, Morgan James, Robyn Adele Anderson, Casey Abrams, Miche Braden, Mykal Kilgore, and Von Smith.
My personal favourite of the cast is Haley Reinhart:
For those who are unaware, Haley is no newcomer to the music scene, she placed third in the tenth season of American Idol and she is a frequent singer in the Postmodern Jukebox covers. The singer’s distinctive timbre evokes jazzy and soulful undertones with a raspy edge. Upon first listening to her, her voice sounds gentle and quiet.. but don’t be fooled by her supple vocals, because she can belt out notes effortlessly in her upper range as well. The juxtaposition of her soft vocals, and raspy growls is what makes her stand out from the crowd in my opinion. Her most notable collaboration with the band on a Jazz cover of Radiohead's "Creep" spent 58 consecutive weeks on Billboard's Jazz digital charts and received critical acclaim.
Apart from Postmodern Jukebox, she writes and releases her own music independently. Her second studio album, 'Better' was released on April 29, 2016. The album debuted at number 22 on Billboard's Independent Album's chart. She has also written songs for singers like Christina Grimmie and Martina Stoessel. Ladies and gentleman, Haley Reinhart is one to keep your eyes on.
Nowadays, it seems anyone with an Internet connection and GarageBand has the possibility of becoming a YouTube sensation, and with the rise of autotune and other technological tools it can be difficult to filter through the good and the bad.
However, one thing that is certain is Postmodern Jukebox’s authentic talent. From the arrangement of the song, to the orchestra, and the top-line singers, the whole act is carefully curated – presenting a YouTube band that you are not hesitant to see live.
If you are keen on taking a thrilling musical journey into the past, don’t miss Postmodern Jukebox on Friday, June 30 at Orpheum Theatre.