Unless you’re living under a rock, it’s unlikely that you haven’t heard about Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox or simply PMJ. A musical collective founded by arranger and pianist Scott Bradlee in 2011, PMJ shot to fame for re-imagining contemporary pop, rock and R&B hits and reworking them in the style of ragtime, vintage jazz, swing, doo-wop, ragtime, Motown and other retro genres.
“It’s pop music in a time machine,” declared Bradlee who came up with the idea for PMJ back in his teens.
“When I was in high school, I was getting into really like early jazz, stuff like ragtime and New Orleans music and things like that,” Bradlee recalled. “You can imagine that most of my peers weren’t really into that kind of music. They didn’t play a whole lot of ragtime at school dances back then. So I wanted to be able to share this with my friends, and one thing I wound up doing since I had pretty good ears—I taught myself a lot by ear—I would just kind of pick out pop songs that they liked and turned them into ragtime or jazz and stuff.”
PMJ had its humble beginnings in the cramped basement of Bradlee’s apartment in Queens, New York, where he shot videos with a small group of college friends.
The group’s big break came after doing a jazzy cover of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ ‘Thrift Shop’ which became viral, reaching over a million views in its first week and climbing to #8 on Billboard magazine’s Jazz Albums chart. Bradlee and crew then followed it up with Miley Cyrus’ ‘We Can’t Stop’ and true enough there was simply no stopping PMJ as it found its way out of Bradlee’s basement apartment and into bigger, more elaborate venues and mainstream consciousness.
Post Modern Jukebox’s choice of material ranges from the ‘80s hard rock of Guns N’ Roses to the most current hits of today and they are performed by a rotating cast of musicians, including numerous American Idol alumni, wearing the same fashion pieces as their version’s particular era or genre.
To date, PMJ’s covers has amassed over a billion views on YouTube and while the group’s YouTube channel now has over 3.4 million subscribers. Some of their most popular covers include their take on Radiohead’s “Creep” (48 million views), Meghan Trainor’s “All About The Bass” (38 million views), White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” (24 million views), Lorde’s “Royals” (24 million views) and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” (21 million views).
Among their recent retro-reworkings include Bruno Mars’ “Finesse,” Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train,” The Cranberries’ “Zombie,” Jessie J’s “Domino” and Jimmy Eat World’s proto-emo hit, “The Middle.”
“I take pride in putting together the right powers and personalities to create a unique and amazing experience for our fans,” Bradlee says in an interview. “We want them to escape reality and join us for the most sensational 1920s party this side of The Great Gatsby. We want them to experience what it was like to be at the New Years’ Eve show that Sinatra would have hosted in the 1940s. We want them to feel the excitement of hearing the greats of Motown live and up close. Our goal is to give our audiences their favorite show again and again and still have it feel like the very first time.”
Critics have likewise raved about PMJ’s live concerts. The UK-based National Rock Review calls the group’s show, “a musical tour de force [that’s] not to be missed.”
“Scott Bradlee and his troupe are doing something very noble and unique. They’re drawing an audience that we can’t imagine listening to Sia and Lady Gaga at home, making today’s pop music accessible and enjoyable for them, while simultaneously bringing a style and genre of music to an audience that might otherwise not have divulged from the spectrum of pop,” wrote Allison Cohn of 303Magazine.com.
The Houston Press proclaimed, “Scott Bradlee’s project has turned into a worldwide phenomenon in quite a small amount of time, having sold out shows in more than 60 countries around the world – and rightly so.”
And as any PMJ fan can tell you, the experience is never the same twice, with new songs, new sounds, and new members added to the ever-growing family each time around.
The good news for Filipino fans, is we don’t have to keep on reading all the raves as Midas Productions is bringing Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox Live in Manila at the Kia Theatre this September 14. A swinging pop music in a time machine experience that’s not to be missed, ticket sales for the show will be available starting June 15 at 10AM.
Watch Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox’s rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep” featuring Haley Reinhart here: