What’s on Your New Year’s Eve Playlist?

Looking for something fun to fill your New Year’s Eve playlist? How about something from the Postmodern Jukebox?

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What’s a Postmodern Jukebox, you say.

According to The Huffington Post, Scott Bradlee & Postmodern Jukebox broke out in 2013.  Scott Bradlee is the creator of the viral phenomenon Postmodern Jukebox, a diverse group of musicians who have turned Ke$ha into country, given Justin Bieber a bit of swing and most recently garnered praise — and more than 4.3 million views, as of this writing — for replacing Miley Cyrus’ twerking with some classic doo wop.”

Still confused? Here’s Scott Bradlee & PMJ on TED.

I stumbled upon the Postmodern Jukebox while scrolling through Google Play for something new, which used to take me hours flipping through record bins at local Sam Goody’s or Sound of Market record stores. I was immediately hooked.

The song featured on Google Play that month was a Jazz cover of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” featuring Kate Davis on lead vocals and bass.

Fun, right?

Of course the first thing I did was create PMJ radio stations on Pandora and Spotify, which is how I first heard their 1950’s ‘sock hop’ style cover of Magic’s “Rude” featuring hyper animated vocalist, Von Smith, with Robyn Adele Anderson and Jen Kipley singing backups. There’s a stunning moment at 2:27 when Von cuts loose. He hits and holds an impressive high note. It’s a little touch that makes this cover worth it.

If you listen closely, you might notice that Von Smith’s voice is reminiscent of 80s Star Search winner, Sam Harris, with whom Von sang a duet in 2010.

Led by Scott Bradlee, the Postmodern Jukebox is a rotating collection of musicians and singers who produce covers of pop songs in various styles of music; such as jazz, swing, doo-wop, and gospel.

One of the things I like about PMJ is their creativity. Their ragtime cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”, with Robyn Adele Anderson’s camp vocals, is incredibly fun.

Turning Jason Derulo & Snoop Dogg’s “Wiggle” into a 1920s ‘Broadway’ number takes guts.  But taking the Guns & Roses classic, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and rearranging it into New Orleans jazz style Mardis Gras anthem was a stroke of genius! Having the remarkable Miche Braden belt out the lyrics doesn’t hurt.

Guns and who?

Speaking of New Orleans, PMJ took Sam Smith’s “I’m Not The Only One” and turned it inside out. Sink your teeth into this vintage New Orleans jazz cover featuring Casey Abrams.

I don’t know what I was doing on 2013 that I didn’t take notice. Though, it’s probably better that I found PMJ after they’ve accumulated a decent catalog of music. I’d hate to think I might have written them off after hearing the Miley Cyrus cover.

I’ll leave you with the PMJ cover of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”, in the style of a vintage Irish Tenor, featuring Mitchell Jarvis and Robyn Adele Anderson. I love the underlying campiness of this version. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also pretty good.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year. Hope 2015 brings peace, love, happiness and plenty of chances to “get lucky”! 😉


 

Bonus Track!

Scott Bradlee and the Postmodern Jukebox covers Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” in a “Great Gatsby” ragtime style, featuring Robyn Adele Anderson and, as always, Mr Bradlee on keyboards.

For more Scott Bradlee & PMJ, check out ScottBradleeLovesYa on YouTube.

Cheers!

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Things To Do In Philly When The Internet Goes Down.

You never really understand how much of your life is dependent upon the internet until it’s not there anymore.

For almost a month, my internet has been suffering drop outs and sluggish speeds. It’s been a nightmare for which I’ve been preparing a long vengeful blog post that, because of outlandish accusations and rough profanity, will probably never be published in it’s entirety.

We did find productive things to do around the house while the internet was down. Sunglasses are now required in the bathroom because the bathtub sparkles so brightly! 😎

In our downtime we caught a few good movies, some of which I share with you here.

I happened to catch a late night broadcast of Crime and Punishment (1935) starring Peter Lorre, on GetTV (one of the myriad broadcast movie channels that have been popping up lately.) I’ve never seen this early adaptation. Lorre is brilliant. Strangely enough, this version is not available on Netflix but it is available in it’s entirety on Youtube.

“The story goes that Peter Lorre wanted to star in the film version of the Dostoyevsky novel, but was certain that Columbia Pictures chieftain Harry Cohn would turn the project down. So Lorre hired a secretary to type up a synopsis of the story in words of one syllable then submitted this simplified resume to Cohn. Enthusiastic over the project, Cohn gave Lorre the go-ahead — but first he asked “Tell me —  has this book got a publisher?”” – Hal Erickson (Rovi)

Whether true or not, that rumor makes for good entertainment.

Here’s the movie, in it’s entirety. Bookmark it. Save it for when you’re looking for something good to watch.

Out of the Furnace (2013) stars Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Forest Whitaker and Casey Afleck (yes, THAT Afleck). When police stop looking for his missing veteran brother, Russell Baze takes matters into his own hands.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but clearly not anything as deep and thoughtful as this flick turned out to be. It’s slow to unfold but it’s good story telling. Woody Harrelson is creepy as hell.

While we’re on the subject of Christian Bale… If you haven’t seen American Hustle (2013), put it on your list. it’s a great piece of entertainment that’s loosely based on the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late 1970s and early 1980s. I don’t know why people love to hate this film so much. I enjoyed it. The clothes and the cars alone gave me flashbacks.

Warm Bodies (2013) A zombie saves a teenager. They fall in love and save the world. What’s not to love? Even the Romeo and Juliet references that get shamelessly thrown in your face didn’t manage to ruin the film for me. It’s cheesy, pop corn chomping fun.

The Call (2013) How can you go wrong with Halle Berry? A 911 operator gets a call from a kidnapped teen. This is a joyride movie! It had me shouting at the screen.

The 2014 Robocop reboot was a lot better than I had expected. It’s still silly and a bit of a stretch for suspension of disbelief, but it was good entertainment. Perhaps I’m just a little biased. I’ve been a huge fan of Gary Oldman since Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, one of my all time favorite films.

I started following Simon Pegg on twitter long before I learned of his incredible career as an actor/writer/comedian. Seriously, I had no idea. That was almost four years ago. Since then I’ve gotten all caught up. I’ve enjoyed him in everything from Shaun of the Dead to Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, Star Trek and everything in between. On Monday night we had the pleasure of watching A Fantastic Fear of Everything. It’s about a crime writer whose research has turned him into a paranoid mess. It’s a little strange but bizarrely funny. Pegg spends half of the movie in his underwear chasing his imagination. The running gag is incredibly funny.

Thankfully, our internet trouble has been dealt with. Everything is running smoothly. We sacrificed a goat and danced around in circles naked while singing the alphabet song backwards. That seemed to have appeased the internet gods. …for now. 😉

Bonus Material…

Everything Wrong With Robocop (1987) in 7 Minutes or Less. by CinemaSins

 And finally…

Simon Pegg rapping old school style in ‘A Fantastic Fear of Everything

Oh, fair warning. The following clip is probably not safe for work.

 

Happy Birthday Bette Midler!

In honor of Bette Midler’s birthday, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite Bette songs. You won’t find Wind  Beneath My Wings or The Rose on this list. They’re both great tunes, but we’ve all heard them a million times. Instead, I’d like to share some of the lesser known, but equally good tracks.

I didn’t really pay attention to Bette until I heard a radio interview sometime in 1980. I was a lost fifteen year old. I had few friends because I had no social skills. During this interview she recited the following quote…

“What’s underneath the mask isn’t as important as the mask that you choose to wear. That’s the true indication of your imagination and your spirit.”

That quote gave me the courage to be the person I wanted to be. I started making new friends, I got my first part-time, after school job, and a year later I came out. Surprise! 😉

My unofficial introduction to Bette Midler was her 1972 remake of Bobby Freeman’s “Do You Want To Dance”, which appeared on her debut album, “The Divine Miss M”. The slower tempo gives it a more sultry feel than the original. It wasn’t until I was much older that I understood the deeper sexual themes of Bette’s version. It remains a favorite.

The third cut on Bette’s debut album, which also includes a beautiful cover of the Ethel Waters standard “Am I Blue”, is a percussion heavy, 1960s style  rock/soul tune called “Daytime Hustler”. It’s the style of song you’d expect to hear from an artist like Tina Turner. With lyrics like, “Fancy money doesn’t buy my love. Flashy Cadillacs won’t make me f❇k. I’ve been hustled by the best of them, and you ain’t nothing but a crazy, crazy man…”  It’s a fun song.

“Skylark”, from Bette’s 1973 self titled second album, is probably the most under-appreciated interpretation of the 1941 Johnny Mercer/ Hoagy Carmichael American pop classic. According to wikipedia, The yearning expressed in the lyrics is Mercer’s longing for Judy Garland, with whom Mercer had an affair.

On the other end of the spectrum from Skylark, is “Breaking up somebody’s home”, also from Bette’s second album. This is one of those little known gems that got buried in the past. It’s bluesy, raw, and more than a little bit sexy. You probably won’t hear this song at a wedding reception. …at least I hope not.

Bette’s fifth album, Thighs and Whispers (1979) contains her disco hits “Big Noise From Winnetka” and “Married Men” and a decent cover of Johnny Bristol’s “Hang on in There Baby”. Although “My Knight in Black Leather” did well in gay clubs, it never became anything more than a camp classic.

The real gems from her fifth album were “Cradle Days” and her beautiful, sad cover of James Taylor’s “Millworker”

“Cradle days” is an aching plea to first love. We’ve all been there. Bette’s voice is powerful in this emotional rock ballad. It’s my favorite tune on that album.

From Bette’s little known fourth album, the one that nobody bought, called Broken Blossom, came “Empty Bed Blues“, “Paradise“, and a really cool duet with Tom Waits called “I Never Talk To Strangers.”

The economy of 1970s was pretty much as it is today. Bette’s aptly named Songs For The New Depression contains a campy cover of “Marahuana” — originally sung by Gertrude Michael in the pre-code “Murder at the Vanities” (1934)

Bette was sick during the filming of Divine Madness, You can hear it in her voice. But the cameras, lighting and sound equipment were already paid for and the auditorium was booked. Canceling production would have cost millions. So they pumped her up with Vitamin C and sent her on stage. Yet, in my opinion, the Divine Madness performance of “Stay With Me Baby” is the best.

Happy Birthday Bette!

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

I just finished reading “NOS4A2” by Joe Hill; aka. Joseph Hillstrom King. Yes, THAT King.

I don’t normally do this. Reading is so personal. Everyone has their favorites, and opinions to go with them. But I liked this book so much, that I thought I would share it. – See? Another opinion . 😉

I could never have written a review as well as GoodReads member Will Byrne. Read Mr. Byrne’s excellent review here.

Lists. …this is a good one.

The 2013 TIME 100 was released a week ago. I’m always suspicious of lists. Often, they are nothing more than self promotion and mutual masturba back scratching. But I think Time Magazine got it right on at least three of it’s picks.

Rebecca Smeyne / Corbis

Rebecca Smeyne / Corbis

John Legend writes of Frank Ocean as a respected colleague and close friend. “Frank is brilliant,” he writes. “The day I started writing with him, it was clear that he has a very interesting mind and a distinctive way of expressing himself. He was fearless and innately creative. You talk to some people in this business and you get the sense that they’re very focused on radio: what will be a hit or won’t be a hit. You never get that from Frank. The focus is on creating something that’s beautiful, that’s great art.

“Frank broke a lot of rules with his album Channel Orange. He wasn’t focused on “What’s gonna be my single?” And obviously, one of the cardinal rules was that he wasn’t supposed to come out. But he did…”
Illustration by David Despau for TIME

Illustration by David Despau for TIME

Maya Angelou wrote one of the most beautiful pieces on a First Lady I have ever read. Of Michelle Obama, she writes, “Modesty is a learned affectation. It’s just like decals. As soon as the world shakes the modest person against the wall, that modesty will drop off them. But humility comes from inside out. It says someone was here before me; I have already been paid for. All I have to do is prepare myself to pay for someone else who is yet to come. And that’s exactly what Mrs. Obama’s doing with the fight against obesity. She considers all children her responsibility: black or white, pretty or plain, all the children.The philosophers tell us that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Mrs. Obama is as if it doesn’t touch her. She hasn’t tried to become anybody else’s idea of the First Lady. She has remained herself, with her grace, her gentleness and her sense of humor. That she would dare to wear clothes off the rack. Or go out and garden. Or have a grandmother in the White House. She knows how to be a public creature without being separate from her family.” Beautiful words for a beautiful First Lady.

But my favorite by far is what Chelsea Clinton wrote of 15 year old accidental activist, Malala Yousafzai  
Mark Seliger for TIME

Mark Seliger for TIME

“People whose courage has been met by violence populate history. Few, though, are as young as Malala was when, at 15, a Taliban gunman boarded her school bus in northwestern Pakistan and shot her and two other girls, attempting to both kill Malala and, as the Taliban later said, teach a “lesson” to anyone who had the courage to stand up for education, freedom and self-determination, particularly for girls and women. Or as young as 11, when Malala began blogging for the BBC’s Urdu site, writing about her ambition to become a doctor, her fears of the Taliban and her determination to not allow the Taliban — or her fear — to prevent her from getting the education she needed to realize her dreams.Malala is now where she wants to be: back in school. The Taliban almost made Malala a martyr; they succeeded in making her a symbol. The memoir she is writing to raise awareness about the 61 million children around the world who are not in school indicates she accepts that unasked-for responsibility as a synonym for courage and a champion for girls everywhere. However Malala concludes her book, her story so far is only just beginning.”