SCOTT BRADLEE’S TIME-TWISTING POSTMODERN JUKEBOX RETURNS WITH A SECOND COLLECTION OF VINTAGE-POP MASH-UPS
The Essentials II features hits by Ed Sheeran, Michael Jackson, Metallica, Britney Spears, Sia, David Bowie and others transformed into vintage swing, golden-age rock, Motown soul, doo-wop, and blues
In the two years since the release of its best-selling compilation album The Essentials, Postmodern Jukebox has grown from a viral sensation to a worldwide phenomenon. Founder and mastermind Scott Bradlee has taken his offbeat vision of gramophone music for a smartphone world and transformed it into a throwback empire, with celebrity guests alongside world class vocal talent, ambitiously eccentric surprises alongside meticulously crafted arrangements, and a touring show that has thrilled music lovers of all generations across six continents.
The Essentials II, set for release on November 2, 2018 via Concord Records and Postmodern Jukebox Records, charts the astounding growth and time-warping sensibilities of PMJ, collecting 18 more favorites from the group’s era-colliding mash-ups. There’s a heavy metal anthem twisted into Motor City soul, a ’90s boy-band earworm refitted with angelic doo-wop harmonies, the Biebs and Britney turned black and white, even a sad clown turning a party-girl anthem into a melancholy ballad.
“If you’re looking for a starting point for PMJ, the two Essentials collections catch you up to speed on everything you need to know about what we do,” Bradlee says. “This album brings together a diverse sampling of songs that have been big in the PMJ universe: fan favorites, viral hits, recent successes and early tracks that were influential on our journey.”
That journey has been a remarkable one. Postmodern Jukebox started as a lark, a way for a struggling musician in a cramped apartment in Queens to reimagine the music of the day in the bygone styles that he loved: vintage jazz, golden age rock and roll, classic soul and early blues. The idea caught on, with a vaudevillian distressing of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop” and a ‘50s doo-wop romp on of Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” garnering millions of views and creating demand for more.
Bradlee recounts that extraordinary story in his recent memoir, Outside the Jukebox, but the astonishing saga of PMJ is revealed in spectacular fashion through the 18 tracks on The Essentials II. No longer just a fun get-together for a group of gifted friends, PMJ here invites actor-comedian Wayne Brady into the fold, channeling Cab Calloway on a Halloween rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
Saxophone giant Dave Koz swings into the studio on a ‘50s prom-inspired take on Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect,” with a cappella crooner Mario Jose and The Voice semifinalist India Carney. Even wider exposure came via Bradlee’s heartfelt salute to the late rock icon David Bowie, the stunning “Heroes” with Nicole Atkins, which took on a life of its own via its use in a Heineken PSA featuring Formula One legend Sir Jackie Stewart.
“It’s so amazing to look back and see all of the amazing, talented people that I’ve gotten to work with,” Bradlee says. “I love what I get to do: I’m able to dream big and make these things come to life.”
The staggering variety of genres and talents represented on The Essentials II offers just a taste of Bradlee’s prodigious imagination. Postmodern Jukebox posted a brand-new video each and every week for more than five years before taking a summer-long hiatus to gear up for what Bradlee is calling “Season 2,” an even more ambitious relaunch planned for the fall.
“The Essentials II gives a hint of things to come,” he says. “When PMJ started, we were known for viral hits and being timely. Over time I’ve begun to think of PMJ differently, as an amazing platform where we don’t need to do things just for attention anymore, we can just put out great music. I take more chances on the arrangements and the casting, and we’ve covered bigger or more interesting songs. We’re still uncovering aspects of Postmodern Jukebox. You learn as you go; that’s just part of being an artist.”