I first became aware of Scott Bradlee and his Youtube videos a couple of years ago when I stumbled upon a cover of Lorde’s Royals, fronted by Puddles, a 7ft sad clown with, as the video proclaims, a golden voice.
Postmodern Jukebox is the brainchild of the group’s arranger and stunning pianist Scott, who in his own words, was simply fed up of the music he liked having little airtime on the radio. His solution was to begin covering a wide range of current pop songs in his preferred genres with the help of a host of talented musicians and singers, which has garnered runaway success. 10 million viewers have been captivated by Puddles and his haunting voice alone. As a self-proclaimed fanatic of anything remotely reworked (electro-swing, you’re my greatest weakness) the swing cover of Thrift Shop and subsequent electo-swing remix had me hooked.
Completely removed from their original styles, these covers are imaginative and surprising once you get your head around something that was originally rap being sung seductively at you. Translating these standalone videos into a live show and conveying the differing characters of each cover and the rotating frontmen and women was something that had to be done right; not only was it everything I was hoping it to be, but it was an energetic, enthusiastic show that kept me guessing what the next surprise was going to be.
Covering and reworking pop songs has been done before, Weird Al Yankovich and Richard Cheese amongst others have certainly built careers on it. What set Postmodern Jukebox apart for me was their sincerity; every member of the band was brilliantly talented and while the aim is in part humorous and in part to surprise, their dedication to the show and to the music made it for me.
With a huge amount of songs to choose from, nobody was safe from their vintage treatment. The band shifted effortlessly from Iggy Azelea, Britney Spears, Ellie Goulding, Taylor Swift to name but a few, subjecting them to motown, swing, smooth jazz, country and various other treatments.
Every member of the band has their moment to shine, including a rhythm section comprised of a drummer, bassist and a tap dancer. The guitar solo from “Sweet Child of Mine” as interpreted by tap dance is something that needs to be seen to be believed. I almost felt sorry for their bassist who had his instrument stolen from him by one of the singers who was equally as good on the instrument and began to belt out a huskier “I’m Not The Only One”. I was so distracted at one point by the most flamboyant tambourine man in the world that I didn’t realise I’d almost been conned into singing along to a motown tribute to Nickleback. The country version of “Stacey’s Mom” is some of the best fun I’ve had in a long time; the happiness was infectious, a drawn out few sung notes to begin with had us all hanging, anticipating what it could possibly be.
Postmodern Jukebox are a collective of people who are clearly having the time of their lives doing what they love the most, while somewhat bewildered at their success. They are certainly an act that have found their success virally, and Scott took a moment to let us know how much that meant to him. They certainly promised to be back, and they’re not an act to be missed. If you appreciate quick wit, good musicianship, and an alternative attitude to being entertained, then these are people to investigate.