Postmodern Jukebox – the best cover band out there?

James Patrick Carraghan

James Patrick Carraghan is an award-winning activist, writer, librarian and student at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. He spends his free time gardening, hording books and flirting. You can follow him on tumblr at http://thelibrarynevercloses.tumblr.com/

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Postmodern Jukebox is simply the best cover-band out there. I know that that doesn’t sound like a huge compliment, but considering the mass of cover-bands that roll through the internet, it is actually quite an accomplishment.

The band came to fame through a series of music videos that became the most perfect blend of swing- and jazz-era melodies with lyrics taken from Ke$ha and Macklemore.

When the new version of The Great Gatsby came out a few years ago, there was a small controversy among some filmgoers over the soundtrack – the mix of modern artists with modern recording techniques (including auto-tune) with vintage 20s musical accompaniment. Baz Luhrmann, the director of the film, said at the time that he wanted the music to reflect the freshness and the wildness of the Jazz Age. Getting that across to a modern audience whose last musical experience was probably the highly-synthesized Mama Mia would be near-impossible using only songs from the era. (I’ll prove it to you: what revs your motor more: Fergie singing ‘A Little Party Never Killed Nobody’ or ‘Shake that Thing’ by Ethel Waters?) Postmodern Jukebox bring the same flavour to their performances, though they go about it in a very different way.

The first song of theirs I ever heard was a cover of ‘We Can’t Stop’ off Miley Cyrus’s album Bangerzz. I was surprised by the beauty of it and the power of the woman in a pink dress and a face hidden behind white sunglasses. Robyn Adele Anderson, the primary vocalist of the band, has the ability not only to clearly draw on the influence of the artists whose songs she’s covering, but can also bring the proper sensibility to the mix of new lyrics and old tunes.

The group manages to make some of the most irritating songs of our era (I’m absolutely talking about ‘Blurred Lines’) the kind of thing that you could actually listen to. I would recommend at the next cocktail party that you host or the next time you have friends over and are looking for music to make the night a bit more interesting, switch on their album, Twist is the New Twerk. Not only does it provide an interesting soundtrack, it also brings a bold, shaken-up flavour that is unique.

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