Everyone bore witness to Miley Cyrus as she ‘twerked’ her way into VMA history while performing her new single “We Can’t Stop,” whose video is equally perplexing. But despite all the talk about Miley’s artistic choices, her single swept across the YouTube community, prompting a wave of parody and cover videos that definitely gained some attention. While some are meant to be humorous, some are re-imagining her work into something totally different. And that something is vintage.
Scott Bradlee, a jazz pianist, started his YouTube channel ScottBradleyLovesYa around four years ago and despite playing traditional covers such as “Autumn Leaves” and “A Night in Tunisia,” people continued to request something more modern. Thus he decided to begin creating vintage twists on popular pop songs.
He created his series ‘Postmodern Jukebox’ and began to create instrumental covers of songs such as “Somebody I Used to Know” by Gotye, “Grenade” by Bruno Mars, and even the Game of Thrones theme song. But it wasn’t only his piano that contributed music, it was other instruments as well, from violins, to saxophones, and even clarinets.
His most recent (and most popular) videos are accompanied by Robyn Adele Anderson, a vocalist who definitely adds life to his music. She goes from having a country-style voice in their cover of Ke$ha’s “Die Young” to singing in Korean for a 1920’s Gatsby-inspired cover of PSY’s “Gentlemen.”
But Bradlee’s most popular video, as well as his most recent, is the cover of “We Can’t Stop” which features a New York doo-wop group called the Tee-Tones as well as Anderson’s versatile vocals. I couldn’t say I liked Miley’s song at all before hearing this 1950’s-esque cover, and now the doo-wop version is constantly finding itself stuck in my head. With over 4 million views, its not a stretch to say this video is getting some well-deserved attention. And despite over 18 million views, Bradlee’s channel only has over 1k subscribers.
Besides making Miley significantly more bearable, Bradlee has done other recent covers with Anderson, all vintage and all impressive. Their cover of “Beauty and a Beat” by Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj has a 1940’s feel to it while they also do an ‘old-timey’ version of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop.”
On Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox website, he expresses his reasoning as to why he decided to create these unique bits of YouTube gold: “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.”
One thing’s for certain: music is universal. Popular music needed to get its roots somewhere, and Bradlee going back to them has produced some very cool results. With a growing viewership on YouTube, the cover songs are likely to keep coming. And this is one channel to keep an eye on. Not to mention, you can grab a few songs off of Bradlee’s iTunes page. Because who doesn’t want to listen to an Irish tenor version of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky?”