YouTube sensation Postmodern Jukebox brings vintage pop to York
When you first walk into a Postmodern Jukebox concert, you might think you've stepped back in time.
On stage, you see a tap dancer in a colorful costume tapping across the stage as a band — made up of a piano, horn section, drums and bass — strikes up a 1920's tune.
Then, a woman dressed as a flapper takes the mic.
"I'm so fancy," she sings. "You already know. I'm in the fast lane from L.A. to Tokyo."
The song sounds familiar, but you've probably never heard it performed this way before. It's as if Iggy Azalea's pop hit "Fancy" were recorded in 1924, not 2014.
That's the idea behind Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox — to arrange familiar pop hits in the vintage styles of jazz, ragtime and swing.
Pianist, composer and arranger Bradley started the group in 2009 after realizing it wasn't easy to get a New York audience excited about the same jazz standards everyone else was playing.
So, he turned to YouTube.
Bradlee began mashing up contemporary pop songs in old-time jazz styles, starting with a medley of '80s hits by artists, including Journey and Bon Jovi.
"One of the cool things about jazz is it really sets you up to be able to play a lot of styles because so much of it is improvised," Bradlee said.
Shortly after posting the medley video on YouTube, award-winning novelist Neil Gaiman came across it and tweeted about it to his millions of followers. By the next day, the video had gone viral.
"I was checking my email, and I couldn't figure out why so many people were commenting (on the video)," he said. "It was the first time I had actual fans, which was a crazy concept to me."
Bradlee started following up with new videos right away.
In November of 2011, he uploaded a Motown tribute to Nickelback , which now has more than 1.5 million views on YouTube.
But the song that really launched Postmodern Jukebox's Internet fame was its cover of Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" in 2013. In just one week, the song had a million hits on YouTube, and today, the video has nearly 9 million views.
"That's when people really became aware of what we were doing on YouTube," Bradlee said. "I realized it was something that people legitimately enjoyed, and it got me to continue."
Today, Postmodern Jukebox has racked up more than 315 million YouTube views and 1.5 million subscribers on its YouTube channel , which posts a new video every Thursday.
The group has appeared on "Good Morning America" and has performed more than 200 shows in four continents. And now, for the first time, Postmodern Jukebox is bringing its North American tour to the Pullo Center in York on Nov. 4.
"We're so excited to play in York," Bradlee said.
"I made it my mission to bring this idea of Postmodern Jukebox around the world," he added, and York is another stop on that journey.
In the last few years, Bradlee has worked with about 100 performers and musicians on Postmodern Jukebox, including Haley Reinhart, who placed third on the 10th season of "American Idol" and Emily West, who finished runner up on the ninth season of "America's Got Talent."
But on Nov. 4, the York audience will see a rotating cast of about a dozen singers, dancers and musicians. The performers will be kept a secret until the night of the show, but Bradlee said the audience can expect to see some of the singers more recently featured on his channel.
"(A rotating cast) makes every show unique," Bradlee said. "What's also really cool is it allows me to work with so many talented people and incorporate them into our universe."
The setlist will incorporate a good mix of Postmodern Jukebox's older and newer songs, Bradlee said, which could include anything from Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" performed in '50s style doo wop to Ke$ha's "Die Young" as a classic country tune.
"I like to pick songs that are familiar to people and change them in a way where they could definitely work in an earlier genre, but at the same time be something people wouldn't think of," Bradlee said.
But no matter what songs make the final setlist, Bradlee said he can promise a concert experience that's completely different from anything the audience has seen before.
"Just reading the reviews and what people have said, it's the best concert experience they've ever been to," Bradlee said. "You feel like you're really back in time."
If you go
What: Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4
Where: Pullo Center, 1031 Edgecomb Ave., York
Cost: $32.50, $42.50 and $57.50
More information: Visit postmodernjukebox.com