DUTC#8 February 26, 2023

DUTC#5 (Feb.5, 2023) featured the music collective Postmodern Jukebox (PMJ), and I mentioned in my notes that I was going to feature this group at some future time. That time is now! I will fully admit to being somewhat obsessed with this music ensemble that was founded in 2011 by arranger and pianist Scott Bradlee. Their name itself is very appropriate as it plays on the idea of “postmodernism,” a term first used in the late 1940s to describe a school of thought that rejected the dogma and practices of any form of modernism, especially in architecture where the term refers to consciously using complex forms, fantasy, and allusions to historic styles, in contrast to the austere forms and emphasis on utility of standard “modern” architecture. PMJ’s music, and videos, in many ways; takes this practice and reverses it by re-purposing popular songs from many different genres and eras, often giving them a “vintage” feel and staging. This is particularly evident on their interpretation of “Thrift Shop” (featured below), which was the first PMJ video to go “viral” in 2013.

Since then, PMJ has amassed a very impressive collection of videos and live performances, which often feature amazing vocalists, many of whom have, shall we say, flown under the radar of the more traditional music business machinations. To that end, this will more than likely be the first installment feature of PMJ, as there are so many amazing performances, that I sometimes feel like a kid in a candy store every time I discover a new one! While the singing and musical performances by the supporting musicians are second to none (with many viewers commenting on how these performances are better than the originals), it is the staging of the videos that often blows me away. I liken them to a form of “musical theater,” as the singer(s) and musicians imbue their performances with emotion, humor, pathos, love, and movement, jamming into one song what often takes an entire “musical” to convey. The choices below have some of this element to them, but there are others that take this to its full extent!

Their origin story goes like this. Scott Bradlee began shooting videos with friends from college in his basement in Astoria, a neighborhood of Queens, NYC. This group included bassist Chris Anderson, saxophonist Ben Golder-Novick, harpist Brandee Younger, and vocalist Emma Walker. Bradlee had struggled for years as a jazz musician in New York City before one of his videos (a medley of 80s songs done in a ragtime style) became popular in 2009. In 2011, his video of “A Motown Tribute to Nickelback” (yes, you read that right!) with a different line up of musicians, also garnered a great deal of attention, culminating in the viral video mentioned above (one million views in the first week), two years later. They are still going strong releasing at least one video a week!

As a bit of a departure from past posts where I feature the original first followed by the cover, I am reversing the order for this one. For any videos that show as “unavailable,” please click on the arrow at the bottom. It will take you directly to YouTube. Enjoy!

Postmodern Jukebox

PMJ “Thrift Shop” Feat. Robyn Adele Anderson – Feb. 2013 – first PMJ video to go viral.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Benjamin Hammond Haggerty (born June 1983), better known by his stage name Macklemore, is an American rapper and songwriter. He is a native of Seattle, Washington. He first met Ryan Lewis in 2006, but it wasn’t until 2009 that the two made their collaboration official, releasing the Album Heist in 2012. The single “Thrift Shop,” featuring WANZ, reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 2013. It was the first song since 1994 to top the Hot 100 chart without the support of a major record label; their second single, “Can’t Hold Us,” also peaked at number one, making Macklemore and Lewis the first duo in the chart’s history to have their first two singles both reach number one. They won four Grammys in 2014, including best new artist, best rap album, best rap song, and best rap performance.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – “Thrift Shop” Feat. Wanz (Official Video) – 2012 Album- The Heist (Deluxe Edition).

Postmodern Jukebox

PMJ “Seven Nation Army” – Vintage New Orleans Dirge White Stripes Cover ft. Haley Reinhart – Aug.13, 2015

White Stripes

The White Stripes were an American rock duo from Detroit that formed in 1997. The group consisted of Jack White (songwriter, vocals, guitar, piano, and mandolin) and Meg White (drums and vocals). The rose to prominence in 2002 as part of the “garage rock” revival scene. Their critically acclaimed albums; White Blood Cells and Elephant, drew attention from a large variety of media outlets in the United States and the U.K. The single; “Seven Nation Army,” which used a guitar and octave pedal to create the opening riff, became one of their most recognized songs, and has been covered by a wide variety of artists. The band recorded two more albums, Get Behind Me Satan, in 2005 and Icky Thump in 2007. They dissolved in 2011 after a lengthy hiatus from performing and recording. They used a low-fidelity approach to writing and recording. The music featured a melding of garage rock and blues influences and a raw simplicity of composition, arrangement, and performance. They were also noted for their fashion and design aesthetic, which featured a simple color scheme of red, white, and black-which was used on every album and single cover the band released. Their last three albums won the Grammy award for best alternative music album. In 2015, Rolling Stone Magazine named them the sixth greatest duo of all time!

I remember hearing rumors when they first appeared on the scene that they were a brother and sister act, but as the story goes, when Jack Gillis met Meg White at a restaurant where Meg worked and where Jack used to read his poetry at open mic nights, the two formed a friendship. After several years of dating, they married in 1996 and, contrary to normal convention, Jack took his new wife’s surname.

White Stripes – “Seven Nation Army” –-2003 Album Elephant

Postmodern Jukebox

PMJ “I Want You To Want Me” – Vintage Blues Cheap Trick Cover ft. Sara Niemietz – Mar.16, 2017

Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick is an American rock band from Rockford, Illinois formed in 1973 by guitarist Rick Nielsen, bassist Tom Petersson, lead vocalist Robin Zander and drummer Bun E Carlos. Their commercially successful work bridges elements of 60s guitar pop, heavy metal, and punk rock, and ultimately laid the foundation for them becoming “power pop” and “arena rock” artists. They released their self-titled debut album in 1977 and, later that year, found success in Japan with the release of their second album, In Color. The went on the achieve mainstream popularity in the United States in 1979 with their breakthrough No.4 live album At Bodukan and a Top 10 single, a live re-recording of “I Want You to Want Me.” They followed this with the release of Dream Police (1979), which was their most commercially successful studio album. They would later top the U.S. charts with The Flame in 1988. They have performed live more than 5,000 times and have sold more than 20 million albums! Over the course of the band’s career, the band has had line-up changes and has experienced several resurgences of popularity over the years, with a dedicated cult following. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. As of 2021, the band was still active and released the single “Light Up the Fire,” in advance of the release of the album In Another World (Apr. 2021).

Cheap Trick – “I Want You To Want Me” (1979 UK TV Appearance) – 1977 Album In Color.

Los Angeles 2023

5 thoughts on “DUTC#8 February 26, 2023

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