PMJ: The musical time machine


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Musician Scott Bradlee’s motto is “Everything new can be old again.” He proves it every time he performs, including at one of Los Angeles’ swankiest nightclubs.

Bradlee takes the best of popular music and twists, distorts or repackages it to transport his audiences back in time. He does it by reinterpreting the biggest pop stars, such as Miley Cyrus, and setting their music to doo-wop and other bygone genres with a band called Postmodern Jukebox.

On a recent Wednesday night at Hyde Sunset Kitchen on Sunset Boulevard, the Jukebox ferried a crowd of 200 people back to the glamorous 1950’s (or was it the 1920s – the flapper era?). The lead singer sported a flowy updo hairstyle with a silver headband and a beaded halter dress with feathery hemline. She crooned in a husky voice, as the band behind her played a doo-wop version of Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” backed up by five dancers. Then they played a country version of “Die Young.” Then a waltz version of “Get Lucky”.

The crowd got very excited as Bradlee, 33, a native of New York’s Long Island, introduced the members of his band. He formed Postmodern Jukebox in 2013 with a rotating group of classically trained musicians and vocalists, all of whom wear vintage clothing to help audiences stroll down memory lane.

It seemed to be working very well during the recent appearance at Hyde Sunset Kitchen. One woman wearing a puffy 1950’s country outfit with white knee-high boots danced on the sidelines with a partner dressed in appropriate vest and shiny shoes. Others also wore vintage costumes while some sported evocative headbands.

One couple said they’ve been following the band for quite some time. “I can’t count how many times I’ve listen to their music on YouTube “, the husband said.

Some YouTube and Facebook fans say the music makes them feel as if they were born in the wrong era. Among the band’s other popular musical reinventions are a jazz version of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop,” which has been reworked into an elegant vintage arrangement, and a Motown version of Taylor Swift’s “Shake it off”.

PMJ’s music indeed transcends the barriers of genres and generations. While Hip-hop flirts with the swing music of the 1920s, 1980’s pop sways to an early 1900’s waltz and R&B meets 1940s torch.

“There is nothing like it!” said the band’s manager, Jordan Howard. “No one has ever thought of doing such a thing.”, Since popping onto the public’s radar screen in March 2013, the group’s version of Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” has earned almost 11 million likes on YouTube; solid evidence that Post Modern Jukebox can bend time and merge generations.

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