Thursday, 19 March 2015

Postmodern Jukebox

by Emily Tandy

Scott Bradlee and Postmodern Jukebox are a band, which, if you have not heard of them, then please Youtube them (there's an example below). 

Only if you have time on your side, though, because for the next few hours of your life you will now inevitably be watching and fan-girling over them. They are an incredible band that started as a group of friends just mucking about with ideas in their little New York apartment and are just coming to the conclusion of their first European tour, have appeared on Ted talks and have around a million subscribers on their Youtube channel. So, not only do I love their music, but I find them to be a really inspirational group of people too. The basic premiss for their music is to take popular songs and put them in different styles and eras. He plays with the idea of what makes a song that particular song.



I saw them live in Brighton recently; they are some of the most talented musicians I have ever seen. Hearing Stacys Mom as a 30s jazz piece was defiantly a personal highlight; the way that they manipulated songs into so many different styles effortlessly was incredible. It also shows just how music can be altered and is not fixed - taking it right back to its fundamentals. Is it the lyrics, the melody, the rhythm that makes it that song? How far can you change a piece of music, before it is no longer the same piece? They manage to propose these questions, while giving stunning performances. Its also really interesting to hear what distinguishes different styles and the subtlety that it requires to make a song sound utterly different. By just changing the way the same chords are played underneath the same melody and using the same instruments, it can create a different atmosphere to the piece.

They also highlight how music has evolved over the years. The main conclusion, I found, was: surprisingly little. The changes over time are actually really subtle and gradual. The fact that something like an Ellie Goulding song can sound great in the style of a sixties girl group amazes me. Especially given the amount of stick that most modern music gets, especially from those of older generations, saying that modern music is not as good as it once was. Surely, this proves that this isnt the case at all. Dont get me wrong - I am not defending all modern music, some is truly awful. However, some of it is really good and the ways that these musicians have managed to manipulate it to make it more accessible to other generations, is pretty impressive.


Scott Bradlee, the pianist and main coordinator of the band is a pretty awesome person. In the concert, he asked the audience to name some artists. This being Brighton, there was an excellent mix, Barbra Streisand, Led Zeppelin, Bruno Mars, Justin Beiber and Lady Gaga. He then proceeded to improvise a mash up of all of them, for a good five/ten minutes. The entire audience was just in shock and awe over how impressive it was. 

Thats another thing that was pretty cool to see: the diversity of the audience. The venue was a club right on the seafront, by the pier. However, there were young people, some younger than us, but equally there were middle aged and even some much older people, all having a great time and loving the same music. Which is something I dont think you see very often.


Just in case Ive not quite sold you on this yet - they have a tap dancer as part of their band. Which is, in my opinion, wonderful.

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