Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Erik's Favorite Things: Scott Bradlee And Postmodern Jukebox

I first discovered Scott Bradlee back when this little video appeared on YouTube:

People who know me know that I love music that's twisted, altered, or straight up remixed.  Hearing how others interpret music and add their own creative spin to an industry that, let's face it, can sound pretty stale and repetitive when you listen to the "pop" genre gives songs that might be forgotten in a few months a new life and something to make them unique.

It makes them "pop" in other words.

I lost track of Scott Bradlee for several years until recently, when I discovered Postmodern Jukebox and went "hey, that "just woke up hair" at the piano looks familiar."

Perhaps you saw this video make the rounds recently, featuring the "Sad Clown With The Golden Voice" covering Lorde's "Royals."

Maybe you caught them doing a medley of the biggest songs of 2013 in the offices of Cosmopolitan?

Maybe you just want to hear one of my favorite versions of a 90's classic hit.

Based on the limited research I've done (mostly because I haven't played the piano since I was very young) there's a distinct art to taking a classic song and translating it.  There are standards that might be in place in a 1920's burlesque show that wouldn't fit in a Motown classic.  There are certainly piano techniques in place in a ragtime piano song that you need to somehow convert modern music into so that it's not just simply "the muzak version of that song."

I have no idea how to do any of this stuff, so I have complete respect for those who can.  Whether it's Richard Cheese's converting pop music into lounge music, Weird Al Yankovic converting songs over to polka, or any of the other artists out there who convert a song's style over to something else, I find it all fascinating.

But outside of Weird Al, my favorite is the Postmodern Jukebox (who you can buy albums from on iTunes or Amazon, primarily iTunes).  The variety of genres, the talent of their singers, and Scott Bradlee's amazing piano work all mix together to create something that is absolutely amazing.

For example, here's some of the sheet music blatantly stolen from Mother Jones depicting how he was able to convert "Sweet Child Of Mine" into the jazzy style shown above.

Seriously, I can barely even read that.  I could never perform it.  I might pick up the trombone again, but I suspect something like that would always be beyond me at this point.

There are not very many artists I'd want to see in a full concert setting, simply because either I worry it would be too much about the show, glitz, and glamour instead of the music, or because I worry that I love the music so much that hearing it performed live in a way that isn't as "clean" as the studio versions would take away from my enjoyment slightly.

Plus, if I go to see a show, it's to hear the musicians perform, not hear the audience cheer, scream, or make background noise ruining the whole thing for me.  I didn't pay the money for the ticket to hear them.

(This ends "Erik gets grumpy because he's getting older."  We now return you to the regular column.)

Where was I?

Oh right.  I want to see Postmodern Jukebox perform.  I'd be willing to travel to see them play, since I suspect that most of the audience would be there for the same reason I am: to see and hear what Scott Bradlee and his band have created, much like how people go to museums to see art as an observer, not a participant.

...I guess I got kind of grumpy there at the end again.  Let's end on a high note.  How about some Taylor Swift done in the style of classic cabaret?

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