Pillbox

Scott Bradlee makes Nickelback sound good

Are you displeased with the state of modern pop music? Can’t stand autotune, singers who can barely sing, and blasts of distorted electronica and synth? Then Scott Bradlee, a New York-based professional pianist, has a solution for you: Postmodern Jukebox. Under the YouTube channel name ScottBradleeLovesYa, Bradlee and a group of other musicians cover favorite
(or not-so-favorite) pop hits with a vintage twist.

When Postmodern Jukebox reimagines songs, they become something very different. Justin Bieber’s “Beauty and a Beat” becomes a 1940s Sinatra-esque swing jam and Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” a sultry 50s doo-wop.

Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is turned into a bluegrass barn dance, and Psy’s “Gentleman” a 1920s jazz song, complete with dancing flappers.

The lead singer, Robyn Adele Anderson, has a unique voice that radiates suave vintage class while Bradlee and the rest of the band fill the songs with great instrumentation.

But the crowning pinnacle of their work is an album in which they reinvented seven Nickelback songs as if they were produced by the legendary Motown records. Nickelback is a band so infamous for their horrendous music that, in 2011, over 50,000 people signed a petition at www.change.org to prevent them playing as the halftime show for the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day. And yet, Postmodern Jukebox manages to make these songs not only listenable, but insanely enjoyable.

The album, which is available for free streaming on scottbradlee.bandcamp.com, contains the smooth vocals of Drue Davis and imbues each of the songs with a sense of energy, emotion, and individuality; it’s now actually possible to differentiate between two Nickelback songs! The light, jaunty chords and rhythmic clapping in “Photograph” gives the song more of a carefree and happily nostalgic tone. “Rockstar” is cleaned up with a cool piano riff reminiscent of the blues. “How You Remind Me” is redone with a quicker pace and a toe-tapping beat that plucks the song out of the dreariness of its subject matter.

Other Motown-styled tributes featuring the soulful voice of Postmodern Jukebox friend Annie Goodchild are similarly enjoyable, such as Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi,” which is remixed with a funky beat and a brassy sound.

Notable mention goes to songs that include “tambourine guy” Tim Kubart, whose spirited tambourining injects a shot of pure happiness in every video he appears in, such as the vibrant cover of Katy Perry’s "Roar.”

On their webpage www.postmodernjukebox.com, Bradlee describes his project: “My goal with Postmodern Jukebox is to get my audience to think of songs not as rigid, ephemeral objects, but like malleable globs of silly putty. Songs can be twisted, shaped, and altered without losing their identities – just as we grow, age, and expire without losing ours – and it is through this exploration that the gap between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art can be bridged most readily.”

Some songs completely overshadow their modern counterparts. The production on each song is beautiful, and the musical arrangements incorporate a variety of instruments and styles. The channel also contains mashups by Bradlee, including one that mixes Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” with George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” and other piano song covers that Bradlee has worked on. Postmodern Jukebox also features a variety of unique talented artists, including various singers, a Mariachi band, tap dancers, and even a beatboxing flutist.

The best part of the channel is the tangible passion behind the music; when you hear a song by Postmodern Jukebox, you know they are people that put love into their work. It is a great channel for anyone who has even the slightest interest in music, and will provide you with hours’ worth of entertainment.